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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blues Historian Review: Honeydripper Soundtrack

Unfortunately, it looks like the film is still too far away for me too catch. However, I did get the chance to listen to a fine CD of classic blues, R&B, and gospel to listen too. The offical soundtrack of Honeydripper starts up with a great jump blues called Honeydripper Lounge, then is follow by a work type song called Tall Cotton. No Matter How She Done It is a classic W C Handy style blues sung by Mable John, plus some outstanding piano work by Sonny Leyland. Then a spiritual by the New Beginnings Ministry called Standing By The Highway. Following the New Beginnings Ministry is an interesting surprise, Hank Williams, Move It On Over. Of course I would love to know what part this plays in the movie. What many people don't know about country music is how much the blues influence it. starting with the "Singing Breakman" Jimmy Rogers, who sang blues songs and added yodels to it, and that tradition of using blues continued with Hank, who was influenced by Rogers. Another classic recording of Lil Green singing Why Don't You Do Right, follows Hank. Keb Mo reinterprets the classic gambling gone wrong blues Stack O Lee, which is an old blues fable about two gamblers. The next song is a return to spiritual music with the New Beginnings Ministry, then Danny Glover sings Going Down Slow. Glover does a good job singing that classic slow blues song. Once again Sonny Leyland is plays an outstanding piano. The soundtrack then returns to Memphis Slim's recording of Bertha May. Bertha May is one of those strange recordings in the blues pantheon. Instead of playing piano, Slim is either playing a tinky electric piano, or possibly a melotron, ( I can't really tell and there is no date on the recording) (The only other strange blues recording that is similar to this was an old recording of Otis Spann playing piano blues on a harpsichord, very strange indeed:-) Finally Gary Clark Jr. has three songs in a row. I can only assume this is the part of the movie that he shows up in "Guitar Sam's" place and rocks the house. I am a little disappointed that the three songs seem a bit sloppy, and slapped together, but again, I can only assume that this has something to do with the movie. I have seen Clark on Youtube, and he certainly can play. I think that not being able to see the movie and being able to reference the song to the scene really effects what I can write about it. It is quite possible that they had to play the songs that way for the scene. Barrence Whitfield then follows Clark's numbers with a rocking Music Keeps Rollin On. The last song on the disc is Ruth Brown singing Things about Coming My Way. I can only assume that this was one of the last recordings done by Brown who died in November of 2006. This is a great song by Brown who was an early star of Rock and Roll, and Soul.

It would really have been nice to see the movie, before reviewing the disc. I think it is hard to get a feel for what the music is trying to say without having a visual reference. However, this is a nice collection of old and new blues, and with the exception of the Clark tracks, the songs are incredibly tight and well played. I know that this movie is about a guitar player in the 50s, but the piano players steal the show on the disc. Jessie Williams, Sonny Leyland, and Tom West, play their fingers off on this CD. I know I am probably biased toward piano players since I play blues piano myself, but I know good blues players when I hear them, and these guys rock. Over all, this is a great disc, and one to add to your collection. It has a nice combination of blues and blues influenced music from the turn of the century up to the 1950s, that it is worth buying just so you can hear just how much blues is the father of rock and roll.


Anonymous said...

Don't usually watch movies but this is one I'll watch for. Thanks for the tip. Ü

Anonymous said...

great review

Emerging Pictures said...

Tell us where you are and we'll try and book the movie near you.

--Emeging Pictures