Josh White - Bluesman, Guitar Evangelist, Folksinger

Published Monday 29th March 2010
Josh White - Bluesman, Guitar Evangelist, Folksinger
Josh White - Bluesman, Guitar Evangelist, Folksinger

STYLE: Blues
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 86457-16061
LABEL: SagaBlues 5302038

Reviewed by Paul Poulton

In 1936 blues singer and guitar player Josh White lost the use of his right hand in an accident, it put an abrupt and sad end to this fine instrumentalists skilful guitar picking. So that was that thought his many fans, and they would have been right were in not for folk singer Pete Seeger's encouragement to join a long and painful re-education programme. Josh White had been reduced to two fingers rather than four but he once again became fine player. There is a notable difference in the blues used before and after the accident. From 1932 the records reveal that Josh's blues featured major tonality, a feel that Reverend Gary Davis continued to pursue so well and may well have had Josh as an inspiration. A harder meaner edge becomes apparent as White's music moves into the 1950s, it's the blues we know and love and the one I prefer if I had to choose. Josh also released songs under the name of The Singing Christian, so this compilation also features 10 songs from the '30s with Josh doing the gospel blues thing. The Singing Christian tracks start with "Motherless Christian", it's a traditional blues song and one that Eric Clapton covered on his comeback album '461Ocean Boulevard' in 1974, it's a real and hard song that gets to grip with life as it's lived. "Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed" is a song Josh wrote and it became a standard in its genre. The recording quality is pretty good all things considered; this is not just a reference album for historians, it's music to be enjoyed. And of course this set does include a version of the classic folk song "House Of The Rising Sun" recorded years before The Animals.

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