Release Date: 09/24/02
The King of the Delta Blues. Few were better
Charley Patton lived only into his 40s, but he left a large body of recorded work, which reveals a broad repertoire, much self-written. He came to his first recording session - in June 1929, for Paramount - with an established reputation. It was said his voice could be heard 500 yards away. The songs he recorded that day include some he had been honing for 20 years around the Delta. Pony Blues is usually cited as a masterpiece. He cut two versions. Both are good, the first is finer: he growls the lyrics, his guitar lopes and bucks. Patton's rhythms are one of his trademarks - complex, intricate, powerful, his fingering always precise. Listen to his playing on Down The Dirt Road Blues - he puts brilliant guitar phrases at the end of each stanza. Songs like Banty Rooster, with its beautiful slide work, and the idiosyncratic Spoonful represent the essence of Mississippi blues and are typical of Patton fast-and-loose approach to blues structures (there's not a standard 12-bar in Patton's recorded output) and rhythmic conventions. Even those who have studied Patton's lyrics find areas to dispute. The voice is gruff, the phrasing eccentric and his Mississippi accent can be impenetrable. But it's worth paying attention - Patton's songs evoke a world that has vanished. We hear of characters like Sheriff Tom Rushen, a lawman whom Patton knew well, for the wrong reasons. He did exist, although his name was actually Rushing. Other songs evoke things like the whistle of the Pea Vine train, or the boll weavil, which threatened the cotton crop - as Patton sings: ... (it) sucks all the blossom and leaves your hedges square. In each case, Patton's playing is crafted to the song. Throughout his career, Patton recorded religious material. Prayer Of Death, from the first session (sacred tunes, and a sermon whose words are as obscure as his song lyrics), is a powerful example. Patton died in 1934, still in demand. His reputation has burgeoned since.
|Label: Jsp Records|
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