Saturday, January 11, 2020

Johnny Shines - The Blues Came Falling Down Live 1973

Born in 1915, Shines picked up the guitar as a teenager and soon was playing the blues for a living - even earning the title "Little Wolf" after performing some Howlin' Wolf tunes during a break in the big man's set. He also met and toured with none other than the master himself, Robert Johnson, who would remain a major influence on Shines for the rest of his life. He made some recordings that went nowhere, backed up a number of major players and eventually retired until he was rediscovered in the 1960's blues revival.

Here he is captured live at Washington University in St. Louis in 1973, primarily just his voice and acoustic guitar, although he is joined by Leroy Jodie Pierson (who I am not familiar with) on a few songs. Most of the tunes are originals, although he plays several Robert Johnson numbers, as Johnson was certainly a major name and influence on the university blues scenes throughout the country. His playing is excellent - and absolutely is reminiscent of Johnson at times - and he has a terrific voice with a wide range, from a Robert Johnson-esque higher register to a low-down, Howlin' Wolf-ish baritone growl, and is always passionate and powerful in his delivery. Being a simple acoustic recording, his voice at times overpowers the guitar, which is a shame, but that is the way that these songs were played.

In any case, this is a superb document of a highly talented blues guitarist/singer, who has his roots firmly in the origins of the music. Well worth owning!