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Album Review

By late 1950 T-Bone Walker was singing at times more like an R&B crooner in the manner of Bull Moose Jackson. Everything on this volume in the Classics T-Bone chronology was originally issued on the Imperial label, and legend has it these stylized performances didn't go over as well with the public as had his Black & White recordings from a few years earlier. Here the arrangements call for a trumpet and sax section behind the vocalist. The material recorded in August 1951 is tougher and more in line with tradition. On "Alimony Blues" and "Welcome Blues," Walker uses his guitar and beefed-up band to create a danceable boogie-based blues that rolls like nobody else's business. The slow numbers recognizably form the basis of modern blues theory as epitomized by Otis Rush. "Life Is Too Short," "I Get So Weary," and "You Don't Understand" are ruminative rituals of remarkable substance and depth. The initially cryptic discography begins to divulge a few more verifiable names in addition to the rhythm section of Willard McDaniel, Billy Hadnott, and Oscar Lee Bradley. Alto saxophonist Edward Hale and tenor man Maxwell Davis were particularly resourceful during a fruitful session that took place in December of 1951. A baritone sax is clearly audible on these recordings, although the discography fails to mention the big horn. The last four tracks were cut in March of 1952, and here Jim Wynn is named as the baritone saxophonist, making it quite likely that Wynn was the mystery horn detected on the previous session. "Blue Mood" stands as one of the best variations on Richard M. Jones' "Trouble in Mind" ever devised by anyone. This disc contains a great wealth of historic West Coast blues recordings that definitively inspired the next generation of blues and rock musicians throughout North America and the British Isles.


Born: 28 May 1910 in Linden, TX

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Modern electric blues guitar can be traced directly back to this Texas-born pioneer, who began amplifying his sumptuous lead lines for public consumption circa 1940 and thus initiated a revolution so total that its tremors are still being felt today. Few major postwar blues guitarists come to mind that don't owe T-Bone Walker an unpayable debt of gratitude. B.B. King has long cited him as a primary influence, marveling at Walker's penchant for holding the body of his guitar outward while he played...
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