Mississippi Fred McDowell

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Mississippi Fred McDowell

Postby blueswriter » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:11 pm

Mississippi Fred McDowell
Come And Found You Gone
Devil Down (2010)


18 tracks, 55 minutes. Essential. It would be simple enough to summarize the importance of this disc by saying discoveries of this nature just don’t come along very often, but that would hardly do justice to the shimmering beauty and down-home brilliance of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s music, nor would it carry anywhere near the superlatives due this amazing document. Born in Rossville, Tennessee, somewhere around 1904 to 1907, McDowell was playing guitar by the time he was in his twenties, although he was not recorded until he was in his fifties. This incredibly relaxed and loose set of previously unissued music stems from the summer of 1967. With the now long-running popularity of Mississippi Hill Country Blues thanks to multiple recordings from artists like R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Robert Belfour and others, musical descriptors and phrases like hypnotic, droning and trance-like have become commonplace, which is something they weren’t when McDowell was helping to lay the foundation the aforementioned guitarists would rely on for influence. McDowell’s bottleneck approach wasn’t lyrical like that of Robert Nighthawk or Earl Hooker, yet it was beautiful in its simplicity. His playing had its share of rough edges, with the slide on his left hand frequently rattling over the frets, and yet the acidic notes that rose from his strings were somehow wonderfully soothing. While there are some songs present that became familiar staples in Fred’s repertoire following his ‘discovery’ in 1959 (Baby Please Don’t Go/Get Right Church/John Henry/Shake ‘Em On Down) everything here is to be treasured. The careening Find My Suitcase is riveting, while Death Came In, I Got Religion and You Gonna Meet King Jesus are deeply felt and passionate. Napoleon Strickland’s The Boogie is a stomping solo harp performance and the unknown singer on Dream I Went To The UN had obviously heard Red’s Dream by Louisiana Red. Fred’s wife, Annie Mae joins in on vocals and thankfully the banter back and forth between everyone was left intact and included. Bill Ferris recalls meeting the McDowells and the ensuing session, as well as discussing Fred’s importance on the closing track. While the recording itself isn’t perfect, it wasn’t meant to be. This is a true ‘live’ recording and as such there’s some audible tape wobble and microphone noise, but these imperfections don’t at all detract from the performances. Hearing this impromptu session for the first time some forty-odd years after it was made is eerily similar to rediscovering blues all over again. Devil Down Records has certainly made their entrance and presence felt with their initial release, and as a team they are well-deserving of praise and applause for issuing this fabulous article. The digi-pak layout is wonderfully designed and boasts a handsome folk-art cover. The accompanying 16-page booklet is both in English and French with a nice assortment of photos. A hands-down winner and an essential item from a revered master!



© 2010 by Craig Ruskey
Last edited by blueswriter on Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Mississippi Fred McDowell

Postby stumblin » Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:57 am

Thanks for the heads-up, Craig.
Looks like I'm destined never to save any money!
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