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Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 9 (1947-1951)

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Album Review

Document's ninth volume devoted to the complete chronologically reissued works of Roosevelt Sykes covers a four-year period beginning in November 1947 and combines 20 Victor, Bullet, and Regal recordings with four titles that feature Kentucky-born guitarist John Brim and his wife Grace, a convincing singer who is also heard playing drums and harmonica. A perusal of the other identified participants reveals a healthy contingent of seasoned Chicago sessionmen, including trumpeter Johnny Morton, saxophonists Bill Casimir, Walter Broadus, and Oett "Sax" Mallard; guitarists Willie Lacey and Emmanuel Sayles; bassists Ransom Knowling and J.C. Bell, as well as drummers Judge Riley, P.F. Thomas, and Armand "Jump" Jackson. By the time he cut eight sides for Regal in 1949, Sykes had been making records for a full 20 years. Unfazed by changing patterns in pop culture, he matured with dignity by assimilating some of what was in the air and subjecting it to his well-established, straightforward approach to singing and playing the blues. What you get in this package is a fascinating prologue to his adventures in the '50s (see volume 10) and his extraordinary comeback in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and early ‘80s.


Born: 31 January 1906 in Elmar, AR

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Next time someone voices the goofball opinion that blues is simply too depressing to embrace, sit 'em down and expose 'em to a heady dose of Roosevelt Sykes. If he doesn't change their minds, nothing will. There was absolutely nothing downbeat about this roly-poly, effervescent pianist (nicknamed "Honeydripper" for his youthful prowess around the girls), whose lengthy career spanned the pre-war and postwar eras with no interruption whatsoever. Sykes' romping boogies and hilariously risqué lyrics...
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