Cendell "Big G" Davis is one of the many artists to make a recent splash in blues following decades of obscurity. After Polio crippled his right arm at age 10, Cedell began picking with his left while playing a unique bottle neck with a butter knife. One he began to establish himself by playing with such artists as Robert Nighthawk and Big Joe Williams in the 50's and 60's, Davis began appearing as a solo artist on many compilations, and his live shows were electrifying. Davis, like R.L. Burnside or Hound Dog Taylor, plays a gritty and raw style of blues. He caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, and his first major label debut, Feel Like Doin' Something Wrong, was released in 1994. The record was a critical and commercial success for the 68 year old blues man.
After working on Buddy Guy's 2001 release Sweet Tea, "Big G" entered the studio to begin work on his forth solo project, his 1st for Fast Horse, Lighting Struck the Pine. In addition to his core band, Davis was joined by Peter Buck, guitarist from REM and Screaming Trees' former drummer, Barrett Martin, as well as a host of Seattle rockers, to give the disc and a rock and roll edge. Cendell mixes it up with standards and originals on this record with rudimentary rhythmic foundations. While each track has laid back ambience, the veteran tears into each song with his fierce signature slide style and rough and ready vocals. Even though there is not a bad cut on this cd, a couple do stand out. Most notably Cendell's rendition of 'Woke Up This Morning' which features Seattleite keyboardist Alex Veley's tasty and clean fills on Hammond B3 in contrast to Williams scorching guitar work. With an Elmore James approach, the slide player constructs a stripped down blues on 'Give Me That Look'. Incorporating horns and harmonica on 'Love Me A Little While' gives the composition a Chicago meets Delta vibe.
Legendary critic, producer and author of Deep Blues, Robert Palmer was quoted as saying this about Williams shortly after producing Feel Like Doin' Something Wrong, "quite possibly the greatest Delta-style hard blues vocalist around". Peter Buck was recently quoted as saying "the last of his kind, a true genius". At 74 years old, Cendell Davis is finding a new and younger audience for his grainy brand of blues and Lighting Struck the Pine would be just as at ease along side your Jon Spencer Blues Explosion collection as it would be your Robert Johnson collected works.
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