Sunday, September 9, 2012
Roosevelt Sykes - Blue And Ribald
Somehow the esteemed Sykes charges through this low-rent production like a high-priced quarterback, scoring and then coming back around for the field goal. The independent blues label that released this was based out of Columbia, SC, and their production is on the cheap side, with flimsy vinyl, generic printing, and a recording sound that might make the listener imagine that the fellow with the microphone wasn't sure how close he was supposed to get. Sykes was allowed to re-record material he had already committed to posterity a few times already, as well as completely extemporize an instrumental inspired by a swipe through a deck of cards, which must be the boogie-woogie equivalent of a John Cage composition. He even picks up a guitar for the only time in his recorded career, and although the instrument sounds in need of repair and the song is wretched, he manages to pull off an impressive lead break, especially for a pianist. He seems to have been in a rowdy mood, which saves the day in terms of what have could have been a substandard album. After playing a filthier than usual "Dirty Mother for You," he follows up with an arrogant number entitled "Put Up or Shut Up," the type of material the artist does with glee. The only trick the label seems to have missed is promoting this as a filthy or sexy record. The title doesn't quite indicate how many numbers of this sort are on the record, and how much free rein Sykes is given. This certainly isn't the set he would play if there were little old ladies in the front row. Or maybe it would be!