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The Horror of It All

Cedell Davis

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Album Review

Those who have fallen under the spell of the Fat Possum label's brand of raw, rocking Delta blues are bound to find plenty to like in the music of Cedell Davis. That said, Davis doesn't really sound like anyone else on the label...nor any other for that matter. His angular, atonal bottleneck guitar playing and garbled vocals are bound to offend many fans of slick, contemporary urban blues, but for a raw taste of the Delta you need not look further. Although the songs and performances on The Horror of It All rank a notch below those on 1994's Feel Like Doin' Something Wrong, it's still a strong outing. Davis goes it alone with his guitar on most of the tracks; joined only by drums on one song; and drums, bass, and second guitar on another. Yet, despite the sparseness of the instrumentation, the album offers more variety than most of the contemporaneous releases on the label. Davis veers comfortably from the type of hypnotic, droning blues favored by deceased labelmate Junior Kimbrough on tracks like "The Horror" to John Lee Hooker-like boogies such as "I Want You." Mostly, though, Davis sounds like no one so much as himself. As per usual with Fat Possum Records releases, even the most familiar blues on the album (e.g., "Keep on Snatchin' It Back, "Coon Can Mattie") are listed as originals, and one song ("If You Like Fat Women") is reprised from the earlier album. None of which matters, of course, when the performances are this spirited. Davis manages to make each of these songs his own. The Horror of It All makes a nice addition to any Delta blues collection.

Biography

Born: 09 June 1927 in Helena, AR

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

CeDell Davis was born in 1927 in Helena, AR. His right hand was crippled by polio at the age of ten, so he switched his guitar to a left-handed bottleneck style, which makes for a unique, atonal sound. He played locally throughout the 1950s and '60s, with friends such as Robert Nighthawk, Big Joe Williams and Charlie Jordan. After a series of compilation appearances and several live dates in New York, Fat Possum Records signed Davis. Noted blues journalist Robert Palmer produced his debut, Feel like...
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The Horror of It All, Cedell Davis
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