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Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: J.B. Lenoir

J.B. Lenoir

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Album Review

Most of the CD compilations released in conjunction with the major television documentary series The Blues were devoted to famous bluesmen or blues-rockers. So those who administered the CD companion volumes are to be applauded for taking a chance and including an installment on Lenoir, who — unlike most of the rest of the spotlighted performers — will probably not be familiar to many, perhaps most, of the series' viewers. This anthology could well be subtitled "J.B. Lenoir at Chess," for though his career did take in work at several different labels, all but two of these 1950s tracks were first released on Chess. Frankly, it doesn't make a case forLenoir as a blues giant; it's good but second-division '50s electric Chicago blues, a little monotonous in flavor, distinguished by his so-high-pitched-it-could-be-a-woman vocals. It does have the Lenoir songs that have proved to be his most enduring, those being his political commentaries "Eisenhower Blues" and "Korea Blues," "Mama Talk to Your Daughter," and "Don't Touch My Head"; "Eisenhower Blues" and "Mama Talk to Your Daughter," both originally released on Parrot, are the two non-Chess pieces on offer. It's too bad, however, that it doesn't license any of his mid-'60s socially conscious acoustic tracks, which demonstrate there was considerably more range to Lenoir's music and artistry than was displayed in his 1950s recordings.

Biography

Born: 05 March 1929 in Monticello, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Newcomers to his considerable legacy could be forgiven for questioning J.B. Lenoir's gender upon first hearing his rocking waxings. Lenoir's exceptionally high-pitched vocal range is a fooler, but it only adds to the singular appeal of his music. His politically charged "Eisenhower Blues" allegedly caused all sorts of nasty repercussions upon its 1954 emergence on Al Benson's...
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Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: J.B. Lenoir, J.B. Lenoir
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