Thursday, November 16, 2006
We're less than a week away from the release of the Tom Waits box set, Orphans. Now, I'm not saying I've heard it yet, and I'm not saying I haven't, but a little bird has told me that it's pretty damn swell. 'Course lots of the songs have been available in some form or another elsewhere on non-Tom albums (though some of them appear as re-recordings), it's pretty keen to have them all assembled in one fine and dandy package. So empty out your penny jars, head to the bank, sell your blood, trade in those Peter Frampton albums, whatever it takes. Show Tom a little love. 'Cuz Tom loves you.
Speaking of Tom, I gotta believe he's heard himself a little Blind James Campbell at some point.
After years of playing in roadhouses, jukejoints, and, yes, street corners all around his native home of Nashville, with various combos (the Nashville Washboard Band, The Friendly Five), Campbell hit what must have been (early recordings are either sketchy or non-existent, I've never heard any) his creative stride teaming with Beauford Clay, George Bell, Bell Ray and Ralph Robinson (on Tuba!!!!) to form Blind James Campbell and His Nashville String Band.
Recorded by Arhoolie bossman, Chris Strachwitz, over a period of a couple of years in the early 60's, the appropriately titled album Blind James Campbell and His Nashville String Band.
Now, why the hell should you care about some Blues guy among thousands recorded, revived, rediscovered, or what have you, during the heydey of the decade of folk revivals?
I'll tell you.
It's a glorious mess.
Honking, belching tuba, loose-stringed and more loosely tuned fiddles, banjos dueling guitar lines smashed long before The Clash were even born, and the voice of god when he's drunk rambling and veering all over the melody, falling and rising above the wailing din. And I think there's a tub being thumped somewhere along the way. Oh, my, this is good stuff. And chaotic. It's string band music taken to the end of the rainbow, and finding not a crock of gold, but hallelujah, and that's more than good enough. Folk, ragtime, country reels, blues...it's all present and mashed together into a joyous mess of hill-stomp, hill-billy, street corner dance music. The Mountain was created for albums like this.
I actually considered changing the theme song of this here eternally late spot on the world wide internets from, well, "Big Rock Candy Mountain" to "I Am So Blue When It Rains". I dare you not to start dancing 'round your room with the nearest available dust mop or broom when you listen to it.
Blind James Campbell: I Am So Blue When It Rains (mp3)
Blind James Campbell: Buffalo Gal (mp3)
Blind James Campbell: Sittin' Here Drinkin' (mp3)
Blind James Campbell: Gambling Man (mp3)
The Holiday season is almost upon us, and that means we're coming up on the legendary daily holiday posts from the Mountain (If anyone wants to start a betting pool on how long that lasts, I'll give away a mix cd to the winner). It also means that it's time to spread the seasonal cheer and help keep your local, independent businesses afloat.