Cedell Davis And Friends
When Lightnin' Struck The Pine
(Fast Horse Recordings c.2002 FH 003)
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: November 2002
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
While 76-year-old Cedell Davis gets a helping hand from a cast of much younger and more recognized sidemen, it's his careening butter-knife guitar work and raffish vocals that set the pace for his new release on Fast Horse Records, When Lightnin' Struck The Pine. Blazing, sheet metal guitar lines come with a reckless attitude while his voice sounds as if it were recorded through a garbage can. If you think they don't make recordings like this anymore, one listen will have you shaking your head in disbelief!. The 55-minute CD includes Peter Buck (REM), Jeffrey Barnes (Brave Combo), and drummer Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) as guests, but it would have been just as easy to record Cedell without any hype from the rock field and the work would have been just as satisfying. Since this is Cedell's offering, the concentration rightfully belongs on what he delivers. At best, this is brilliant and rudimentary blues from someone who ran with Robert Nighthawk, Houston Stackhouse and many others, and regardless of whether polio left him crippled years ago, what he does today with his butter knife gliding across the strings will leave the uninitiated speechless. This is exactly why blues was tagged as "devil music" and Davis sounds like he's got the wherewithal to kick Legba square in the backside, knock him to his knees, and make him get up to dig his own burial plot. From "Pay To Play" to "Hold Me Baby," and indeed, everything in between, Cedell's Epiphone guitar submits to his archaic way of playing and while there are usually standouts in each recording, each of the eleven tracks here delivers exactly what Cedell Davis has been known for throughout his relatively brief career as a recording artist that began with a Rooster set of Arkansas Blues in 1983. While only his third full effort, it's bone rattling, earthy blues at its best and will easily please purists and newcomers alike. Age is merely a number and Cedell plays with the energy of a person much younger. If the gizmos and technological tendencies of many Fat Possum recordings leave you a little cold, this one should please! www.fasthorserecordings.com
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