file Son House - ‘Forever On My Mind’

05 Apr 2022 20:57 #960121 von DumbAngel
Son House - ‘Forever On My Mind’ wurde erstellt von DumbAngel
By Chris Wheatley

Blues releases don’t come much bigger than this collection of previously unissued material from legendary singer and guitarist, Son House. Forever On My Mind is set to release March 18 on Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound.

Like Robert Johnson, Son House’s highly emotional style is immediately recognisable and compelling. Born in 1902, the guitarist grew up in the classic era of blues and enjoyed a short career which saw him play alongside fellow great, Charley Patton. House was one of many blues stars ‘re-discovered’ by avid enthusiasts during the 1960s, and it is from this period which these recordings come.

These eight tracks derive from the personal collection of House’s then-manager, Dick Waterman, who taped this live concert in 1964, at Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana. Crucially, this album is being issued via Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound. Auerbach has an established history of working on such projects with suitable reverence, and that commitment shines through here. Given the analogue source, same hiss is to be expected, but that does not detract from the captivating material on offer.

On the opener and title-track, we’re immediately thrust into another world. House sounds remarkably up-close and personal. His slide guitar absolutely sings, the sparse, bare-bones playing conjuring up a wealth of pathos with just a few notes – the sure sign of a master. The presence of the crowd is palpable, but never intrusive. As Waterman recalls: “There may have been up to 50 people, something like that. There were no barriers, there were no filters. He was just giving them the plain, unvarnished Delta material, as he knew it and as he sang it.”

Very few knew it, sang it, or played it as well as House, and this material is wonderful to hear. “Preachin’ Blues” rolls and sways, guitar alternating between strummed rhythm and striking, wailing licks. House plays a steel-bodied, National resonator here – a legendary instrument, originals of which now cost thousands of dollars. On these performances, the guitar and the singer feel in perfect harmony. “Empire State Express” thrills with its side-stepping cuts and ringing flourishes. Not only is this an important historical document, this is Son House at or close to his best.

As Auerbach himself observes: ““He sounds like he’s in a trance, and his singing is so nuanced here. It sounds so right to me.” Auerbach ought to know – he grew up listening intently to Houses’ Father Of Folk Blues, and his own Black Keys were always deeply influenced by the blues. The astonishing “Death Letter” underlines Auerbach’s opinion. On this wonderful number, House sounds completely in the zone, filling every moment with visceral power. “The late-’64 stuff is as good as it’s going to get,” echoes Waterman, and it would be hard to argue with that statement.

Following his rediscovery, House toured extensively across the US and Europe, alongside such luminaries as Skip James and Bukka White, before ill-health led to retirement, in 1974. He spent his last years in Detroit, Michigan. Upon the star’s passing, members of the Detroit Blues Society arranged for a suitable monument for his grave. Forever On My Mind builds on that monument, acting as a fitting reminder of the colossal talent which House possessed.

Many unearthed recordings are historically interesting and few make for vital listening. With this set, Auerbach, Waterman and, of course, Son House, give us both. Excitingly, this album marks the first in a planned series based around Waterman’s collection of quarter-inch tapes. That’s a prospect to savour for blues fans the world over.
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09 Apr 2022 16:42 #960254 von DumbAngel
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