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Tampa Red: The Bluebird Recordings 1936-1938 (Remastered 1997)

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Album Review

By the mid-'30s, Tampa Red was a famous blues singer and guitarist, when he suddenly did an artistic about-face. The records Tampa Red made for the Bluebird label between 1936 and 1938 were certainly unlike anything he made before or after in his long recording career. His fabled guitar was relegated to the back burner, and he cut in two modes: first as a bandleader/vocalist fronting a small jazz-pop band, and secondly as a solo pianist/vocalist working the recently departed turf of Leroy Carr. All of these were cut at the same sessions, following a seamless thread except for a lone appearance of that patented slide guitar on two cuts from a 1937 date. Certainly not the place to start with Tampa, but an interesting sidebar for sure. Excellent notes by Jim O'Neal enhance the package.


Born: January 8, 1904 in Smithville, GA

Genre: Blues

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

Out of the dozens of fine slide guitarists who recorded blues, only a handful -- Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Robert Johnson, for example -- left a clear imprint on tradition by creating a recognizable and widely imitated instrumental style. Tampa Red was another influential musical model. During his heyday in the '20s and '30s, he was billed as "The Guitar Wizard," and his stunning slide work on electric or National steel guitar shows why he earned the title. His 30-year recording career produced...
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Tampa Red: The Bluebird Recordings 1936-1938 (Remastered 1997), Tampa Red
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