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Sunday, 9 December 2018

Lightnin' Slim - Rooster Blues

Side 1:
01. Rooster Blues
02. Long Leanie Mama
03. My Starter Won't Work
04. GI Slim
05. Lightnin's Troubles
06. Bed Bug Blues
Side 2:
01. Hoo-Doo Blues
02. It's Mighty Crazy
03. Sweet Little Woman
04. Tom Cat Blues
05. Feelin' Awful Blues
06. I'm Leavin' You Baby

A big thank you to Marv for sending in this reconstructed version of an Excello Lightnin' Slim LP which was originally released in April 1960. The collection consists of 6 singles which were released on the Nashville based Excello label in 1958 - 1960. All of these sides were recorded at Jay Miller's studio in Crowley, Louisiana, and featured Lazy Lester on harmonica. It's basic Louisiana swamp blues with echo drenched productions by the smallest of groups: Lightnin' Slim on vocals / guitar and Lazy Lester on harmonica, accompanied by various drummers / percussionists. Session details are listed below.

Lightnin' Slim's real name was Otis Hicks. He was born in Missouri in 1913, so when he recorded these sides he was already on the mature side. He first recorded in 1954 with Wild Bill Phillips on harmonica. Other harp players he worked with during the succeeding couple of years included Schoolboy Cleve and Slim Harpo. He was joined by Lazy Lester in late 1956 in a partnership which would last into the 1960s. Both Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester went on to have successful careers under their own names, with Slim Harpo in particular outshining his mentor as he eventually became the embodiment of the swamp blues sound for many blues fans.

As an aside, Lazy Lester is one of the few original US blues musicians I have seen perform in the flesh. Twice in fact, both times at the Edinburgh Blues Festival back in the 1990s when it was held in the Caledonian Brewery in Slateford Road. On both occasions Lazy Lester had sampled rather too much of the brewery's excellent products before taking to the stage, which led to rather erratic performances.

Above: from Blues and Rhythm Magazine, I think.

Fax On The Trax

The 12 tracks on this LP were originally released on single as follows:

01. Rooster Blues - Excello 45-2169 A - November 1959
02. Long Leanie Mama - Excello 45-2142 B - August 1958
03. My Starter Won't Work - Excello 45-2142 A - August 1958
04. G.I. Slim - Lightnin' Slim - Excello 45-2169 B - November 1959
05. Lightnin's Troubles - Excello 45-2160 B - July 1959
06. Bed Bug Blues - Excello 45-2173 B - March 1960
07. Hoo-Doo Blues - Excello 45-2131 A - January 1958
08. It's Mighty Crazy - Excello 45-2131 B - January 1958
09. Sweet Little Woman - Excello 45-2160 A - July 1959
10. Tom Cat Blues - Excello 45-2173 A - March 1960
11. Feelin' Awful Blue - Excello 45-2150 B - February 1959
12. I'm Leavin' You Baby - Excello 45-2150 A - February 1959

Feelin' Awful Blue; Lightnin's Troubles recorded in Crowley, Louisiana in late 1956. Personnel: Lightnin' Slim (vocal, guitar) with: Lazy Lester (harmonica); Clarence "Jockey" Etienne (drums).

Hoo Doo Blues; It's Mighty Crazy; Bed Bug Blues recorded in Crowley, Louisiana on June 10th 1957. Personnel: Lightnin' Slim (vocal, guitar) with Lazy Lester (harmonica); possibly Roosevelt Samples (drums); probably Vince Monroe (percussion).

Tom Cat Blues recorded in Crowley, Louisiana in May 1958. Personnel: Lightnin' Slim (vocal, guitar) with Lazy Lester (harmonica); possibly Roosevelt Samples (drums).

My Starter Won't Work; Long Leanie Mama recorded in Crowley, Louisiana in 1958. Personnel: Lightnin' Slim (vocal, guitar) with Lazy Lester (harmonica); unknown drums and percussion.

I'm Leavin' You Baby; Sweet Little Woman recorded in Crowley, Louisiana in January 1959. Personnel: Lightnin' Slim (vocal, guitar) with Lazy Lester (harmonica); Vince Monroe (drums).

Rooster Blues; G.I. Slim recorded in Crowley, Louisiana in September 1959. Personnel: Lightnin' Slim (vocal, guitar) with Lazy Lester (harmonica); Kenneth "Sam" Sample (drums).

CD Heaven

Ace (UK) used to release CDs of Excello material back in the 1990s. I have a couple of their Lightnin' Slim releases -

Ace CDCHD 616

Ace CDCHD 587

Both of the above are worth picking up if you should come across them in the second hand browsers. I did notice that "Nothin' But The Devil" was going for some ridiculously inflated price on Amazon. Anyone who pays that amount of money for a CD must be insane! Look around and you'll find 'em for good prices.

Inevitably public domain company Jasmine has a 2CD set of Lightnin's A and B sides out, and the "Rooster Blues" LP has been re-released on vinyl. I haven't bought any of the recent blues vinyl reissues (usually by public domain companies) so I can't comment on the quality of these discs.

Thanks again to Marv for providing these rips and for steering me towards a neglected part of my collection.

This post concludes the Be Bop Wino Blues Tour! An eclectic mix of R&B, Jazz, Swing, Rock 'n' Roll, and yes, more Blues, coming up in future posts ... stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

First Blues i bought were 'Rooster Blues' along with Harpo's Raining In My Heart and Reeds Rockin' With Reed from Pete Russell's Hot Record Store in Plymouth when i was a youngster,now an oldster, but still got the albums.Cjeers, Cove.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for the great comment! It seems that Excello sides plus Jimmy Reed were a big influence on the 1960s R&B boom in the UK, especially on The Stones and The Pretty Things. I was just a bit too young for that. I really came to the blues via Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.

By coincidence I've just finished reading Garth Cartwright's book "Going For A Song: A Chronicle Of The UK Record Shop" and there's a section in it on Pete Russell's Hot Record Store, including a photo of the display windows.


Unknown said...

I'm with Cove (above). I bought this LP, along with a bunch of other Excello discs, back in 1969 (or thereabouts) and still have them. Thanks for the post with the usual thoughtful curation.

The Magnificent Goldberg said...

Funny; I was just about to rip my copy from the LP.

Thanks very much for saving me the trouble.

Great stuff. I think some of the CDs Ace issued have different takes of this material.