Skip James - Cypress Grove Blues

Published Monday 10th March 2008
Skip James - Cypress Grove Blues
Skip James - Cypress Grove Blues

STYLE: Blues
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 44093-13621
LABEL: Complete Blues SBLUESCD007

Reviewed by Lins Honeyman

Mississippi-born Skip James is probably best known as the writer of "I'm So Glad" (covered by '60s band Cream on their debut album 'Fresh Cream'). Skip himself enjoyed a renaissance in the '60s due to the interest brought on by Europe's belated interest in the blues. This 18-track collection shows the Delta blues master in all his original glory with songs taken from his Grafton, Wisconsin sessions recorded in February 1931. Whilst the sound quality is undeniably poor, the genius of James shines through and songs such as "Devil Got My Woman" and the classic "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues" (recently revived in the Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou) showcase his high pitched vocal style and intricate guitar work - largely influenced by blues giant Charley Patton. Equally proficient on piano, this collection also features his work away from the guitar in songs such as "22-20 Blues" (later to be borrowed by the legendary Robert Johnson for his "32-20 Blues") and the simply breathtaking "Little Cow And Calf Is Gonna Die Blues". In later life, James turned his hand to spreading God's word thanks to the encouragement of his bootlegger turned preacher father and songs such as "Jesus Is A Mighty Good Leader" and "Be Ready When He Comes" reflect something of the spiritual amongst the secular in his repertoire. This is an enjoyable repackaging of the timeless work of one of the blues world's most revered names.

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