The Sirens (2003) 5005
15 tracks, 53 minutes.
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: July 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
If the thought is that recordings like this don't happen anywhere near enough, it's simply
because the real, honest-to-goodness piano blues seems to be either a lost or vanishing art.
While Mitch Woods, Gene Taylor, Honey Piazza, Marcia Ball and others are highly respected
for their contributions to the genre, it's not often you'll hear any of them beating on an old
upright piano, unaccompanied, calling on the spirits of the true boogie woogie greats. A
scant few come to mind including Barrelhouse Chuck and Erwin Helfer who can be
counted on to carry the torch of authentic piano blues. Of those included on this brilliant
CD, Speckled Red is perhaps the more recognized, although hardly a household
name, but his three cuts, Dad's Piece, Early In The Morning, and Oh Red
sparkle with rough and tumble piano. Doug Suggs is featured on Doug's
Jump and the rolling Sweet Patootie as well as two recently discovered tracks,
Smoke Like Lightning and the aptly titled Slow And Low, a wonderful step
back in time. James "Bat the Hummingbird" Robinson may be the least talked
about blues pianist ever heard, but his Bat's Blues and the seven-minute Four O'
Clock are solid and grinding nonetheless. Also newly discovered are a handful by
Billie Pierce, a rumbling Keep A Knockin' with fine two-fisted pounding, the
slow See See Rider and Florida Blues, plus two takes of Bye And Bye with
Dede Pierce joining in for vocal assistance. An added bonus is the five-and-a-half
minute interview between Erwin Helfer and Doug Suggs. Regardless of the 1950s recording
dates on these Primitive Piano sides, the sound is wonderful from beginning
to end and proves just how much we're losing touch with the past. Steven Dolins and his
Sirens Records label deserve to be highly commended for a continuing effort to rekindle a
flame that has all but flickered out in recent memory. Simply remarkable material.
www.thesirensrecords.com for more info on this as well as other discs of stunning piano
blues and boogie.
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