Longtime contributor, and later, editor of Guitar Player magazine, and all-around music journalist, Jas Obrecht has written extensively on the subject of blues, in particular, the many brilliant guitarists that have found a place in history due to their genius. Showing knowledge, love, and respect for the music, Obrecht has added this fine piece to his credit list. Many of the interviews within the book had been previously published in magazines including Living Blues and Mojo, but due to space limitations, some of the original text was edited out when they were printed. Where available, the complete pieces are now in Rollin' And Tumblin,' and with text running over 400 pages, there's quite a bit to digest, so we'll take a look at what's included.
The list of artists covered is impressive, to say the least, as it includes Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, the Three Kings, Elmore and Homesick James, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, T-Bone Walker, and many more, while the list of those who either wrote the articles or interviewed the men, is just as impressive. Jim O'Neal, Dan Forte, John Anthony Brisbin, Jeff Hannusch, Tom Pomposello, and others, all played important roles in the finished pages of this book. Obrecht's lengthy, but concise introduction covers the history of blues guitar, and sets a solid foundation for further reading. The interviews, with Saunders King, Lowell Fulson, Gatemouth Brown, plus others, are of particular interest. King's memory was razor sharp as he recalled specific details of amplifiers and guitars used, session information, and lots more.
Of the articles, Brisbin's piece on Jimmy Rogers, a longtime Muddy Waters sideman, is extensive and very well written, as is Waters' story by the editor. Much of the information is well-known, but to have this amount of reading focused on postwar blues guitarist all in one place, is a fine addition to any music bookshelves. Larry Birnbaum contributed a short four pages on Jody Williams, a guitar player with some excellent, though oft-forgotten contributions, and Jim Kent's article on Howlin Wolf guitarist-extraordinaire, Hubert Sumlin, is strong. Jim Franz has a lot to say on the subject of Magic Sam, a brilliant and powerful singer and player, who died at the young age of 32. Sam was on the verge of becoming a major figure, and sadly, we lost a man who may have become the king of blues guitar.
In its entirity, the book is tastefully done, from the humorous and detailed interviews with Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker, to the short but informative pieces on Freddie King, Guitar Slim, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Jas Obrecht contributed twelve of the twenty-eight features, along with editing everything here, and while not an exhaustive piece of work on postwar blues guitar, or the many who played either minor or major roles on its path, it figures prominently on a subject getting more coverage now than ever before. A strong addition to blues history, it is recommended reading, and a necessity for those with voracious appetites on the subject. Available at most bookstores and at many online retailers.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Craig Ruskey, 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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