Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pee Wee Crayton - Make Room For Me

Although he was certainly inexorably influenced by the pioneering electric guitar conception of T-Bone Walker (what axe-handler wasn't during the immediate postwar era?), Pee Wee Crayton brought enough daring innovation to his playing to avoid being labeled as a mere T-Bone imitator. Crayton's recorded output for Modern, Imperial, and Vee-Jay contains plenty of dazzling, marvelously imaginative guitar work, especially on stunning instrumentals such as "Texas Hop," "Pee Wee's Boogie," and "Poppa Stoppa," all far more aggressive performances than Walker usually indulged in.
Like Walker, Connie Crayton was a transplanted Texan. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1935, later moving north to the Bay Area. He signed with the Bihari brothers' L.A.-based Modern logo in 1948, quickly hitting pay dirt with the lowdown instrumental "Blues After Hours" (a kissin' cousin to Erskine Hawkins' anthem "After Hours"), which topped the R&B charts in late 1948. The steaming "Texas Hop" trailed it up the lists shortly thereafter, followed the next year by "I Love You So." But Crayton's brief hitmaking reign was over, through no fault of his own.
After recording prolifically at Modern to no further commercial avail, Crayton moved on to Aladdin and, in 1954, Imperial. Under Dave Bartholomew's savvy production, Crayton made some of his best waxings in New Orleans: "Every Dog Has His Day," "You Know Yeah," and "Runnin' Wild" found Crayton's guitar turned up to the boiling point over the fat cushion of saxes characterizing the Crescent City sound.
From there, Crayton tried to regain his momentum at Vee-Jay in Chicago; 1957's "I Found My Peace of Mind," a Ray Charles-tinged gem, should have done the trick, but no dice. After one-off 45s for Jamie, Guyden, and Smash during the early '60s, Crayton largely faded from view until Vanguard unleashed his LP, Things I Used to Do, in 1971. After that, Pee Wee Crayton's profile was raised somewhat; he toured and made a few more albums prior to his passing in 1985.

Pee Wee's last two albums were recorded in Riverside, California for Murray Brothers, at the instigation of the label's A & R man, blues harpist deluxe Rod Piazza. Pee Wee relished the freedom and the chance to work with some veteran sidekicks and younger admirers like Rod and Honey Piazza (”I played a lot of places with Rod”) and guitarist Doug MacLeod (”one of the best friends I got, and he's one of the finest guitar players you'd ever want to hear”) and his band.
His tone, energy and repertoire were up to the minute. [title] emphasizes Pee Wee's blues, boogies and R & B, with a couple recreations and the accent on instrumentals. Rod Piazza described the music as “a seasoned professional doing what he does best with no compromises.” From the late night instrumental ambiance of a revived and extended “Blues After Hours” and the extravagant vocal blues “When I'm Wrong I'm Wrong,” through the rousing R & B of “Barefootin'” and a revisited “You Know Yeah” and the blistering uptempo instrumentals like “E.T. Blues,” “Red Rose Boogie” and the Piazza feature “Head'n Home,” Pee Wee and Blind Pig records have a reminder of his greatness for his longtime fans, and a wakeup call for a new generation. As the record “Early Hour Blues” affirms, what was once pioneering is now timeless as blues history and joyful listening!



goinsidemyhead said...

...I don't why it is but Pee Wee Crayton is just a joy to listen to...maybe it's just because you can hear this man's soul in every recording he does...he's one of those guys you wish you could have known....his unpretentious vocals and guitar playing is just straight up honest to the bone blues....bagonhead more like this...please...and thanks the always excellent posts..

Xyros said...

I'd never really listened to Pee Wee before and only bought this lp for the label.
He's fantastic with a laid back guitar, no prentious shit and so cool. Because of this lp I've picked a japanese reissue of his Crown lp which is even better. Also coming soon is another lp with 50's tracks.
I'll post both for you though the Crown tracks can be picked very easily.

ramson said...

Yeah man!!.... I have a cd compilation of two lp's for Murray Brothers... but I prefer this complete lp... I give you my sincere thanks for this album.

By the way, does anyone have the disc for Murray Brothers?


Leroy Slim said...

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Anonymous said...

i really dig his tasty guitar playing! never heard him before. many thanks for sharing these gems.