Franktown Blues represents the first recording by the three sons of musical legend, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, the man who helped to put rock n' roll music into homes across America and throughout the world via the distinctive voice of Elvis Presley. Since the 1950's, Crudup's music has consistently found its way into recordings from bluesmen and rockers alike, making his impact on music no less significant than Elvis, The Beatles or the mysterious Robert Johnson. Sadly for blues lovers, Franktown Blues will most likely be the only recording released by James, George and Jonas Crudup since drummer/vocalist James Crudup passed away during the recording sessions.
Franktown Blues offers a bit of musical history revisited and great new interpretations of some classic Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup tunes, along with other well-done covers and exceptional original material. Shortly after Big Boy Crudup died in 1974, the sons disbanded their group, The Malibus. Given that the Crudups had not been in the studio since 1972, the quality of the material heard on Franktown Blues is even more remarkable. In addition to the Crudup brothers, James (drums/vocals), Jonas (guitar/vocals) and George (bass/vocals); the recording includes appearances by guitar ace Lonnie Mack, producer Tim Drummond on bass, the Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson & Andrew Love) and Jimmy Buffett alum Greg "Fingers" Taylor on harmonica.
Musically, Franktown Blues is incredibly entertaining. The Crudup brothers' interpretations of Big Boy classics like "That's Alright Mama" and "Look On Yonder's Wall" are unique and refreshing in their presentation. Another Arthur Crudup classic, "Mean Old Frisco Blues," is very well done by the brothers and one of the finest versions of the song that I have heard performed in recent years. One of the more interesting songs in the CD is a great cover of a Bob Dylan/Tim Drummond penned tune called "Fur Slippers" which is both humorous and entertaining.
Among the best of the original material is the title track, "Franktown Blues." The song offers a special view of the history of the Crudup family and the legacy of the music created by the legendary Big Boy Crudup and his sons in Franktown, Virginia. It also alludes to the significant impact of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup on the music world. The final cut on the recording, "Malibu-Jammin' For James," appears to be a tribute to the recently departed brother James, although it is unclear as to whether the song was simply named in his honor or recorded in his honor after his passing.
During 2000, it has been my pleasure to hear and write reviews on several great recordings. Franktown Blues has now been added to that list. As we move into the New Year, this recording gets my strong recommendation as anyone's first musical purchase of 2001. For more information on Franktown Blues, visit Warehouse Creek on the Internet at www.warehousecreek.com.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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