Consider the music of Walter McGhee, characterised by easy, flowing guitar and the warmest voice in the blues, instantly recognisable. It’s a voice astonishingly rich in texture, although he can give it a cutting edge when the material demands it, and its expressive tonal qualities have even improved over the years, as these 1971 performances show.
Total time: 00:40:25
|Analog Recording Equipment||
Nagra-T Tape Recorder
Merging Technologies Horus
Rene Laflamme – Analog to DSD 256 transfer
|Original Recording Format|
Karl Emil Knudsen
Copenhagen on November 13 and 14, 1971
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||October 16, 2018|
This album is particularly rich in examples of how Brownie McGhee can bring his originality to bear on traditional material and the compositions of other bluesmen. Howdy Blues is a variant of Good Morning Blues, and here the Brownie McGhee lilt has replaced the near ferocity of the famous versions by Leadbelly.
Mean Old Frisco is performed here as Southern Train, in an interpretation more relaxed than the usual train blues, but still evocative of its subject. On both of these and the tender reading of Leroy Carr’s In The Evening, Brownie receives the most sensitive support from Sonny Terry’s harmonica.
Big Bill Broonzy’s Key to the Highway provides Brownie with a chance to prove that he can fashion a completely new guitar part for a well-worn piece, but perhaps the best guitar playing of the date is on Can’t Sleep at Night, a tremendously fluent and swinging performance.
Although Brownie might miss out a bar now and again if the mood takes him, his chord vocabulary is wide, he makes all the changes, and his style is among the most melodically appealing in all blues. And, typical of his confidential story-teller’s approach, he adds new words arising out of his immediate circumstances to the standard choruses of Key to the Highway:
˜I might get my breakfast here in Denmark,
Might get my dinner in New Orleans
I’m the highway walkingest man the world has ever seen.’
A reflective and moving Sporting Life Blues makes a satisfying end to an intimate and very accomplished recital.
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