Friday, July 19, 2013

B.B. King/Pee Wee Crayton - Blue on Blues

I don't know where I happened upon this CD, but I have been a fan of King's since his "The Thrill is Gone" crossed over to the pop charts and I have wanted to explore Pee Wee ever since I heard of him (and still need to get more) so this was a natural wherever I found it! The pairing is slightly odd, though the sounds are not as different as one might think in these early recordings (all from the early 50's), especially considering that both men were highly influenced by the great T-Bone Walker.

King gets the first half of the CD and opens with his mambo-rhythmed "Woke Up This Morning", which includes all of the classic B.B. sounds, with a full horn section (the sax wails here!) augmenting the piano/bass/drums, but King's guitar is a little rawer and raspier here, which makes it more enticing to my ears. "Please Love Me" has B.B.'s guitar positively slashing out the "Dust My Broom" lick in this pre-r'n'r number - again, his playing never sounded better to me just cuz of its rough edge. There's another jumpin' blues in "You Upset Me Baby" and its sexy swagger gave him another hit - in fact everything on this CD charted in the 50's, showing that audiences had good taste back then! He gets some fine T-Bone-flavored licks in "Everyday (I Have the Blues)" and while "Sweet Sixteen" was a hit for Big Joe Turner a few years before, King makes it his own now and forever more in this version with his expressive singing (nobody could hit those "baby I wonder"'s like he can) and fantastic riffing. He also picked up "Rock Me Baby" from Arthur "big Boy" Crudup, added a simple, catchy lick, a sultry sex-beat, and turned this into his own. This is a short set, but some of his best work.

Crayton didn't pick up a guitar until he was in his early 30's, which makes his playing all that much more astonishing. But, he was actually a friend of T-Bone's and obviously picked up some of his techniques, as he displays in his first instrumental hit "Blues After Hours". He proves to be a fine singer, as well, in the L.A.-based "Central Ave. Blues" (the then-thriving African-American entertainment strip) but his playing is truly creative and emotional. "Texas Hop" is an upbeat instro where Pee Wee trades licks with sax player Buddy Floyd, both swinging up a storm! The cats slow it down for the romantic torch song, "I Love You So", before boppin' back in with the energetic "Poppa Stoppa" with more innovative guitar and wild'n'wooly sax. His set ends all-too-soon with the high-energy swinger "You Know - Yeah" which will positively make you want more from this man!

Short, but superior CD - unless you already have this cuts on other collections, get it!