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Homesick James (6 CD)

(¿James Williamson o John Henderson?; Somerville Tennessee, 3-5-¿1914? / Springfield, Misuri, 13-12-2006)

Voz, guitarra

Primo de John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, James Williamson participa modestamente en el blues de Brownsville de Sleepy John Estes y Yank Rachell. Después de sus inicios como guitarrista en Memphis (y puede que después de participar en una sesión de grabación con Little Buddy Doyle y Big Walter Horton), James se fue a Chicago, se convirtió en un habitual de los clubes de la ciudad y fue acogido por Johnnie Temple y Memphis Minnie. La influencia de estos dos artistas siempre se ha hecho notar, particularmente en su forma de cantar. En 1952, cuando ya había grabado algunos discos como solista en el pequeño sello Chance, pasó a ser uno de los pilares del blues del South Side. Era la época del formidable éxito de Elmore James. Williamson, también adepto del slide - que según él aprendió directamente de Robert Johnson -, se llamó Homesick James en sus primeros discos ( compuso un "Homesick blues" ), afirmando ser pariente de Elmore. Aquellas sesiones grabadas para Chance, algunas de ellas con Big Waltere Horton, sólo han sido reeditadas en un vinilo japonés ("Chance vintage blues" -Pea Vine-).

Esta usurpación de personalidad no parece preocupar a Elmore, quien incluso lo incluye en su banda. Cuando Elmore James muere (en los brazos de Homesick, según él mismo), no había nadie mejor que Williamson para perpetuar su estilo. La leyenda creada en torno a su "primo" le proporcionó más conciertos y más discos. De esta forma fue incluido por Sam Charters en su antología "Chicago, The blues today, vol.2" (Vanguard) y grabó su primer espléndido álbum, "Blues on the South Side" (OBC).

Los años siguientes fueron los mejores para Homesick, quien se convirtió en uno de los favoritos de las giras europeas. Su manejo del escenario, la pureza de su estilo de guitarra (con o sin slide) y la autenticidad de sus interpretaciones le confieren una reputación y un éxito merecidos. Entonces grabó en varias ocasiones acompañado por Snooky Pryor, varios vinilos de primera calidad. Especialmente, habrá que buscar los grandiosos "Ain't sick no more" (Bluesway), "Homesick James, Snooky Pryor (Caroline) y el acústico Home sweet Homesick (Trix), sin lugar a dudas, uno de los mejores discos unplugged.

A pesar de lo que decía el propio Homesick, es un creador muy original y su aterciopelado estilo de guitarra está muy lejos del de Elmore. Tras la muerte de alguno de sus viejos amigos de Chicago como Big Walter Horton, con quien había formado equipo, Homesick volvió a su Tennessee natal tocando regularmente y aconsejando a los numerosos aprendices de bluesman de la región. Destacar de esta época algunos discos nada desdeñables ("Sweet home Tennessee" -Appaloosa- o "Got to move" -Trix-).

01. Johnny Mae Take 2
02. Lonesome Old Train Take 1
03. Lonesome Old Train Take 2
04. Farmer's Blues
05. Whiskey Headed Woman
06. Williamson's Boogie
07. Homesick Blues
08. Dirty Rat
09. The Woman I Love
10. Wartime
11. Lonesome Blues
12. Late Hours After Midnight
13. Williamson Shuffle
14. 12th Street Station
15. Long Lonesome Day
16. Crossroads
17. My Baby's Sweet
18. My Kind of Woman
19. Sunnyland/Homesick Special
20. My Baby's Gone
21. Set a Date
22. Can't Afford To Do It
23. Queen's Rock
24. Can't Hold Out
25. Crutch & Cane
26. Got To Move

This 26-track overview brings together the early and impossibly rare tracks James recorded for imprints like Chance, Colt, USA and others, from his earliest efforts in 1952 into the mid-1960s before signing with Prestige and producing the Blues on the South Side album for them. The first 15 tracks are culled from his 1952 and 1953 sessions for Chance Records (including an alternate take of his first single, "Lonesome Old Train" ), and some great harp work from Big Walter Horton on the instrumental "Williamson Shuffle." Along with the surviving Chance material are stray singles for USA (an uptown version of "Crossroads" featuring a droning sax section), Colt ("Set a Date" ), UK Decca ("Got to Move" ), Spivey ("Can't Hold Out" ) and a pair of sides shared with Sunnyland Slim ("Sunnyland/Homesick Special" ). There are no real session dates or personnel information on here, and only scant liner notes only giving introductory information; the set also leaves off both sides of his 1960 Atomic H single and thus can't be a complete overview. But the music is just as fine as you could possibly ask for, grade-A Chicago blues chock full of raw slide guitar and Homesick's grainy vocals, making this the best overview of this artist's early work available on compact disc. - Review by Cub Koda,

01. The Woman I'm Lovin' [0:02:08.25]
02. She may Be Your Woman [0:02:43.32]
03. Goin' Down Swingin' [0:03:48.20]
04. Homesick's Shuffle [0:04:16.10]
05. Johnny Mae [0:03:34.70]
06. Gotta Move [0:02:35.33]
07. Lonesome Road [0:03:25.50]
08. Working With Homesick [0:03:23.15]
09. The Cloud Is Crying [0:03:30.32]
10. Homesick's Blues [0:03:10.33]
11. Crawlin' [0:02:08.22]
12. Stones in My Passway [0:03:18.40]

Homesick James (vocals, guitar)
Lafayette Leake (piano)
Eddie Taylor (bass)
Clifton James (drums)

Recorded in Chicago, IL, January 7, 1964.
Produced by Samuel Charters.
Digital Remastering: Kirk Felton, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, 1990.
Reissue of Prestige PR 7388.

1-1 Highway 51 4:20
1-2 Lonesome Train 5:15
1-3 Homesick's Original Dust My Broom 3:13
1-4 Kissing In The Dark 2:20
1-5 Crossroads 3:48
1-6 Shake Your Money Maker (Studio) 2:48
1-7 Careless Love (Studio) 3:58
1-8 Tin Pan Alley (Studio) 2:39
1-9 Dust My Broom (Studio) 3:38
1-10 The Woman I Love 3:02
1-11 Drivin' Dog 3:52
1-12 Homesick Blues Again 4:12
1-13 If I Could Live My Life All Over Again (Live) 4:19
1-14 Baby Please Set A Date (Live) 2:55
1-15 Shake Your Money Maker (Live) 4:32
1-16 Dust My Broom (Live) 3:22
1-17 Worried About My Baby (Live) 3:47
1-18 Gotta Move - Can't Stay Here No More (Live) 3:13
1-19 Tin Pan Alley (Live) 3:55
1-20 Careless Love (Live) 5:13
2-1 Shake Your Boogie 3:23
2-2 Bottle Up And Go 4:02
2-3 You Don't Know My Name 4:29
2-4 Bluebird Blues 4:34
2-5 Can't Love Me And Homesick Too 3:26
2-6 Baby Left Me A Mule To Ride 2:56
2-7 Jump And Shout 3:50
2-8 Gonna Have A Good Time 4:45
2-9 So Sweet 4:46
2-10 Crazy 'Bout You 3:17
2-11 Nothin' But Trouble 3:05
2-12 Cross Town 4:00
2-13 After You There Won't Be Nobody Else 3:53
2-14 I Feel Alright 3:29
2-15 She Knows How To Love Me 3:29
2-16 Dangerous Woman 3:54
2-17 Sloppy Drunk 3:21
2-18 Sweet Home Chicago 4:05
2-19 Mailman 3:13

Homesick James Williamson - guitar, vocals
Snooky Pryor - harmonica, guitar, vocals

2003 release combines the renowned blues singer/slide guitarist’s 1973 (Home Sweet Homesick James), 1974 (Shake Your Boogie), & 1975 (Homesick James & Snooky Pryor) albums, for the first time on CD, with four bonus tracks, ‘If I Could Live My Life All Over Again’ (live), ‘Baby Please Set A Date’ (live), ‘Dangerous Woman’, & ‘Sloppy Drunk’. 39 tracks.


This double-CD set of Homesick James and Snooky Prior is remarkable in that it is the first time the entire collection of these sessions has been assembled. There are 39 cuts over two discs. Included are three complete albums and cuts from two different compilations. James did one of these records himself, Home Sweet Homesick James, but Shake Your Boogie and the self-titled duet album were with Prior. The album with Prior is the most satisfying here because of the rawness of the backing band and the loose spooked-out groove of the proceedings -- more like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside than Muddy Waters. The version of "Crossroads" sounds like an entirely different song yet loses none of its power because of its hypnotic boogie. The earliest solo slide guitar material by James, like his version of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Lonesome Train," also has the repetitive groove goin' on, but the guitar playing is so phenomenal it's distracting. The material from Shake Your Boogie is a straight-up good-time blues record; it's funky, greasy, and vulgar in all the best ways. The sound of the recording is also very warm and immediate. He and Prior just get to it, burning up one blues classic after another. Again, James' slide playing is intense as hell; he's always on the beat, and letting the bottleneck ring against Snooky's harp. Even on the more laid-back tunes such as "Bottle Up and Go," the energy just crackles in the mix. The mix of originals to covers is about even, but it hardly matters since these cats make every tune their own. Once more, what these archival recordings prove is that Big Bear was a far more important label than originally thought, and they captured late performances by some of the absolute masters of the genre. This is essential.
Review by Thom Jurek,

01 Livin' Like a Bear
02 Bad Situation
03 Kissing In The Dark See All 3
04 Better Know What You Runnin' From
05 Goin' Back in the Times
06 Rocky Mountain
07 They Call Me Hot Foot Homesick
08 What Done Got Into That Woman
09 Crossroads Years Ago (Honeyboy Is a Friend of Mine)
10 Bitin' Me And Shakin' Me All Up And Down
11 .38 Pistol
12 (Untitled)

Homesick James Williamson - vocals, guitar
Honeyboy Edwards - guitar

1. Gotta Move
2. Set A Date
3. The Sky Is Cryin
4. Cross Out Saw
5. That's All Right Mama
6. Shake Your Money Maker
7. Homesick Boogie
8. Woman I Love (Bonustrack)
9. Early In The Morning (Bonustrack)
10. Bottle Up And Go (Bonustrack)

Continuó grabando hasta bien entrado el siglo actual, aunque abandonó las giras a finales de los 90. De hecho este trabajo es una de sus últimas apariciones, una grabación en directo de 1999 realizada en Suiza (y publicada en 2007). Por lo visto según se indica en el libreto del CD el tipo le daba al "bebercio" y los músicos acompañantes se las veían y deseaban para seguir al maestro, que tenía un comportamiento ligeramente "errático". Buenos temas , propios y versiones, simples pero efectivas ( con desafinos incluidos ) The Sky is crying, de James, Lewis Robinson, cuya versión de Albert king resultaba definitiva, pero no esta nada mal la de Mr. Homesick, That´s alright mama de Crudup, y las creaciones propias como por ejemplo Homesick Boogie. Una recopliación grabada en directo ya en edad madura ( de ahí los desafinos ). En cualquier caso una fantástica grabación que destila el más clásico blues de Chicago.

1 Can't Afford to Do It (2:42)
2 Tin Pan Alley (4:36)
3 Mr. PAwnshop Man (Three Ball Blues) (3:00)
4 Baby Please Set a Date (3:24)
5 Welfare Girl (5:46)
6 Hawaiian Boogie (2:51)
7 Dust My Broom (2:30)
8 That's All Right (4:11)
9 Highway 51 (4:22)
10 Tennessee Woman (5:16)
11 Got to Move (2:46)
12 Bein' With the One You Love (Lost Lover Blues) (3:06)
13 Homesick's Woman (5:55)
14 Homesick Talking (1:00)

Homesick James Williamson - Guitar, Vocals
Ron Thompson - Guitar
Jeff Levine - Piano
Joe Rosato - Bass
unknown - drums

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