Friday, January 12, 2018

The Essential Barbeque Bob

I definitely discovered Barbecue Bob via the blues calendar series and and was intrigued by his strong yet melodic voice and insistent, rhythmic 12 string guitar playing. His work in the 1920's and early '30's garnered a fair amount of popularity, although he currently is one of the more obscure early blues players. This may have to do with the fact that his guitar playing, while providing a powerful tempo behind his vocals, is not all that exceptional, overall. He does get a little fancier in numbers like "Goin' Up the Country", but still, his instrumental prowess does not really stand out.

The songs are acoustic country blues, hokum, and vaudeville-ish with more traditional blues mixed with goofs like "Diddle-Da-Diddle" (done with various other nonsensical words by plenty of others), greats like "Chocolate to the Bone" (with the line "got what it takes to make a monkey man leave his home") and a version of "Sittin' on Top of the World" in "I'm on My Way Down Home" (one of several numbers with the Georgia Cotton Pickers). He even does some light-hearted smack talkin' with his brother, Charlie, ala later Bo Diddley'n'Jerome is the two-parter "It Won't Be Long Now".

On Disc 2, he performs some rudimentary slide work on the lewd "Twistin' That Stuff", he mashes up many other songs in his take on "Motherless Chile Blues" (talking about getting his "hambone boiled" and "where did you stay last night" and "goin' to the river") and does the same for a lot of the other cuts here - whether he is doing an original version or just making things up as he goes, I couldn't say, but it does all work! I dig the raw-voiced Nellie Florence on "Jacksonville Blues" and "Midnight Weeping Blues" (she causes Bob to break out in uncontrollable laughter at one point) and his work with the Georgia Cotton Pickers helps add to his sound.

Although Bob has a fine voice and brings plenty of oomph to the tunes here, his simplistic playing does make a lot of the songs sound similar, especially over the course of 2 CDs. Still, a cool collection from this original blues cat.