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Chimpin' the Blues

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Album Review

While Robert Crumb is most famous as the single most influential artist in the history of underground comics, he's also known as a record collector and serious fan of vintage jazz and blues, freely acknowledging he has no interest in anything recorded after 1936. Jerry Zolten, a well-respected music historian and professor at Penn State University, is a fellow record collector who is friendly with Crumb, and in 2003 the artist was a guest on Zolten's radio show on Penn State's radio station WPSU-FM. Chimpin' the Blues preserves 60 minutes from Zolten's show, with Zolten and Crumb playing some of their favorite rare 78s from the '20s and '30s and discussing the music and the people who made it. The music featured here is an eclectic and engaging sampling of early blues and jazz, from the joyous bounce of "Washboard Cut-Out" by Bobbie Leecan's Need-More Band and the insouciant jug-band sounds of "Walk Right In" by Cannon's Jug Stompers to the gospel fervor of "I'll Just Stand and Wring My Hands and Cry" by Rev. J.C. Burnett and Congregation and the spectral blues of "Down on Me" by Eddie Head and Family. The presence of Robert Crumb will probably lure in a few people who might otherwise ignore this album, and fans of his curmudgeonly wit will enjoy what he has to say about the records he spins, while his knowledge of this music is truly impressive. But the music is the real star of Chimpin' the Blues, and the 11 rare sides presented here are genuinely exciting and satisfying stuff for fans of vintage blues.


Born: August 30, 1943 in New York, NY

Genre: Graphic Novels

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A zany sense of humor fused by a psychedelicized vision made Robert Crumb one of the most influential comic artists of the 1960s. His characters, including Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural, Flakey Froont, and the Vulture Demoness, and his underground comic books, such as Zap Comix, combined elements of social commentary and the British tradition of caricature. His illustrations often graced the covers of record albums, including one for Big Brother & the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills. Comics, however,...
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