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50 Great British Blues Recordings – Part 5

Happy New Year, Everyone!

One of my resolutions for the new year is to make more regular postings on this site’s Journal page. I got waylaid by the holidays but now I’m back!

Let’s begin where we left off…

21) Humble Pie – Performance – Rockin’ the Fillmore (1971/2013; see image above)
Steve Marriott plays and sings hard rocking full-throated British versions of blues and R&B classics on this electrifying live set.

The original double-LP was expanded in 2013 with a 4-CD box set (Performance – Rockin’ the Fillmore – The Complete Recordings) that includes all four of their May 1971 shows at the Fillmore East (the more Marriott, the merrier, I always say). This is Steve at his vocal peak. Best blues tracks: “Four Day Creep”, “I’m Ready”, “Rolling Stone/My Babe” and “I Don’t Need No Doctor”.

22) Jellybread – The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (1969/2008)
Pete Wingfield really stars here on Alan Price-ish vocals and piano. For some great, smooth British blues, try “River’s Invitation”, “I Pity the Fool”, “Never Say No”, “I’ve Got to Forget You”, “Boogie Sandwich” and the song I first heard by them, “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”.

24) Tom Jones – Praise & Blame (2010)
Tom Jones surprised everyone with this magnificent blues and gospel CD. Every cut is killer, especially “What Good Am I?”, “Lord Help”, “Strange Things”, “Burning Hell”, “Don’t Knock”, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and “Run On”.

This highly acclaimed CD was followed by Spirit in the Room (2012) which found Tom once again in his element, singing great blues, gospel and other roots music. How many other vocalists can sing like this? None! Get up and enjoy “Soul of a Man”, “Bad As Me” “Love and Blessings”, “Traveling Shoes” and “All Blues Hail Mary”.

Prior to these two great CDs was Reloaded (2002) which contains a hot version of Leadbelly‘s “Black Betty” produced by Wyclef Jean.

After that came the terrific Tom Jones & Jools Holland (2004), Tom’s first major return to his blues and early rock roots. “St. James’ Infirmary Blues” is amazing; other superb tracks include “Life’s Too Short to Be with You”, “200 Lbs. of Heavenly Joy”, “It’ll Be Me”, “Roberta”, “Mess of Blues” and “My Babe”.

For you completists out there, the CD single of “It’ll Be Me” has Tom singing the non-LP cut of Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love”.

25) Jo Ann Kelly – Black Rat Swing (2003)
This comprehensive 2-CD 45 track set covers this great singer’s entire 1964-1988 career. Her ethereal voice calls up the ghost of Memphis Minnie, even sounding of that lost time. Her early death was a tragic loss. Listen to “Backwater Blues”, “Levee Camp Holler”, “Louisiana Blues”, “I’ve Been Scorned”, “Jump Steady Daddy”, “Help Me Through the Night”, “Two Nineteen Blues”, “Come See About Me”, “Moon Going Down” and “Death Have Mercy”. Jo Ann’s singing gives me the eerie chills.

Stay Tuned! More to Come!

3 thoughts on “50 Great British Blues Recordings – Part 5

  1. Tom Jones? Really? As in “It’s not unusual…”
    panties on the stage Tom Jones?
    I have to admit I didn’t follow his career at all,
    but I figured he’d end up as a Vegas lounge act.

    And happy new year back at ya.

  2. Bill, I’ve been enjoying your British Blues posts. You called it right on these later Tom Jones recordings. They are starkly magnificent, with a raw and vulnerable edge. A stripped down shout out to the realities of life’s winding path. Gone are the pop sensibilities that most associate with this artist. They have been replaced by the honest voice of a man looking back over a life in song. I loved the cuts you mentioned, but I would also add his cover of “Tower of Song” to the list.

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  3. @Aaron:
    Yup — that Tom Jones. You aren’t the first person to be surprised by Tom’s big change of musical direction. Ed Leimbacher, who wrote the brilliant introduction to my Legends of the Blues book, was shocked when I suggested we listen to some current Tom Jones. Shortly after hearing just a few songs from Praise and Blame, he became a convert. Believe me — there’s nothing Vegas-y about his recent CDs at all. It’s the kind of material he grew up with in his coal mining community in Wales, the kind of songs he first sang as a teen. The singing on those CDs all comes from the depths of Mr. Jones’ mighty heart and soul.

    You nailed it.

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