Saturday, November 3, 2012
Johnny Copeland - Sings The Blues
All of the above three tunes lead me to wonder what took the blues cognoscenti all those years to "discover" a man of such obvious talents?
A spiky guitar intro heralds the arrival of Copeland's fried-in-batter re-make of Lady Day's standard "Ain't Nobody's Business", which builds nicely to a sanctified crescendo and closes out the blues quartet. Three of the next two numbers ("I've Gotta Go Home"; "Hurt, Hurt, Hurt") are reminiscent of the Duke/Peacock big-band R&B sound pioneered by that label's legendary in-house bandleader, Joe Scott. "The above tunes focus almost exclusively on Johnny's under-rated vocal abilities. This man could sing, guitar-god status notwithstanding!
Next we move to a duet of touching eulogies to those who preceded Copeland in the pantheon, made all the sadder by Johnny's recent death. The "Johnny Ace Medley" is also an utterly romantic slow-dance number, a smooth remembrance of the Bayou City's suave, tragic balladeer. Ace was found dead backstage at a Christmas Eve concert in 1954, his record atop the R&B charts, supposedly the victim of an unlucky game of Russian Roulette. It was whispered at the time, though never proven, that there were darker forces at work (read: Duke/Peacock boss Don Robey had him "whacked".) At any rate, like Sam Cooke's, Ace's early death robbed the world of years of great music.
"Four Dried Beans" is an organ-driven rave-up. A bare-bones dance number, "The Hip Hop", closes out the album's original material.
~John Nova Lomax, September 1998
I've edited the review to fit the tracks on the LP.