Monday, April 4, 2016
Junior Parker - You Don't Have To Be Black To Love The Blues
Parker died in November 1971 during an operation for a brain tumor. Before he passed he sailed into the 1970's in promising fashion cutting a pair of terrific albums; You Don't Have To Be Black To Love The Blues circa 1970/1971 for Groove Merchant and I Tell Stories Sad And True for United Artists which was released in 1972. Parker's singing on these albums, to quote critic Tony Russell, "could be used as a manual of blues singing;" his singing is a model of control and phrasing, almost delicate with it's high, fluttering range, with every line placed perfectly for maximum effect. His harmonica playing is quite and melodic, parceled out in small but effective doses.
It sounds old fashioned, maybe even trite, but Parker really knew how to put across a song. He was a marvelous interpretor, a skill ably demonstrated on You Don't Have To Be Black To Love The Blues a collection of mostly standards and revivals of his old numbers. The gorgeous "Five Long Years" sets the tone with his languid, delicate phrasing matched by a stripped down, very mellow backing group. Parker takes his time on exquisite versions of "That's Alright", "Tin Pan Alley", "Sweet Home Chicago" and the fluttering vocal of "Man Or Mouse" a revival of a 1967 chart hit for Duke. "Way Back Home" is a funky, infectious soul/jazz instrumental sporting some fine, nuanced harmonica playing from Parker. Neither the album or the recent Blues Discography has a listing for the band but I was told that it was The Crusaders. This jibes with the overall sound, the fact that the song "Way Back Home" was written by member Wilton Felder and that The Crusaders also backed B.B. King during this period. Edited from Sundayblues.org
Credit to Frits for the rip