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R.L. Burnside - An Ass Pocket Of Whiskey - LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €14.95


Fat Possum reissues this collab between Jon Spencer and the recently deceased blues great.

As a kid I went through long stretches where I bought records that I understood to be important to the development of rock music; so, inevitably, I had a protracted blues phase. There was something puzzling about this music, though, a discord between what I read and what I heard. In print I gathered that blues was fundamentally social; I was always reading something about the big names of the genre getting their start playing fish-fries, juke joints, and rent parties. From these descriptions blues sounded like party music designed to get people dancing, but the music I was hearing was for the most part slow, brooding, and personal, often performed by a single guitar and voice. Even with, say, Muddy Waters' full band and a faster tempo, I still couldn't imagine dancing to 12-bar. What kind of parties were we talking about?

Somewhere along the line I acquired an album by Mississippi Fred McDowell called Somebody Keeps Calling Me, and, hearing "Shake 'Em on Down" and "Drop Down Mama" it all made sense. McDowell's guitar playing on these songs was all about rhythm, a distinctive syncopated chug that emphasized the offbeats and often stayed on a single chord. The structure seemed so much more open and inspired movement. This blues sounded like a party. Up near McDowell in the Mississippi hill country lived a man 22 years his junior named R.L. Burnside who heard his elder play and ultimately put his own spin on the stomping monochord vamp.

Burnside recorded his share of solo acoustic 12-bar, but he'll be remembered for driving electric blues. He died recently. In the last 10 years of his life he enjoyed a modest amount of fame in the indie world due largely to this record, a 1996 collaboration with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion originally released on Matador. Burnside had already toured with the Blues Explosion by this point. When Spencer got the idea to cut a record, the band dispatched to an isolated spot in rural Mississippi with nothing but their equipment and what one imagines was a vast amount of booze. It's hard to imagine a more masculine scene: A half-dozen guys in a hunting cabin, drinking whiskey, cursing a blue streak, talking about women, and playing the kind of raunchy blues where "I'd rather see you dead than with another man" is as close as one gets to "I love you."

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