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Chris Barber

Chris Barber Presents The Blues Legacy – Lost & Found Volume 1

Review by Gary Hill

Here we get the first CD in this series. These are old recordings of live shows from the British jazz band lead by Chris Barber. These focus on two concerts – one from 1957 and the other from ’58. I  would say that this CD isn’t as strong as the others in the set. For one thing, the first half of the disc isn’t really blues – as the CD series says it is, but rather gospel. Secondly part two features a lot of stripped down blues jams. The trouble is, that kind of blues really starts to sound the same after a while. All in all this is a CD that has some strong moments, but tends to drag a lot. I think for hardcore fans of the artists involved it’s a must have. For the rest of us, it’s a maybe.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band - Every Time I Feel The Spirit
Bouncy and fun, this has a definite old school New Orleans sound. All these tracks with Sister Rosetta Tharpe are from 1957.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band - Feed Me Jesus
This is an acapella gospel number.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band - Didn't It Rain
While there is music accompanying this, it’s still very much in a nearly acapella motif. It’s not nearly as long as the previous piece.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band - This Train
Another that’s basically acapella, this is a slower tune

Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band - Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air
I was getting a bit bored with the acapella treatments, so this full on Dixieland jam is a nice change of pace.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band - Peace In The Valley
Old school gospel with a Dixieland flavor describes this track well. It’s a slower performance than the one that preceded it.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band - Down By The Riverside
Here we get a banjo based Dixieland styled gospel shuffle. They power it up into a more full scale arrangement later in the piece. The later portions of this are amongst the best music on the disc.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band - Old Time Religion
While the mold has not been broken here, this one works better than some of the rest. It’s pretty typical Dixieland gospel, but it just plain cooks
Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band & Ottilie Patterson - When The Saints Go Marching In
This is probably the quintessential Dixieland song. It’s another strong point of the CD.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe With The Chris Barber Band & Ottilie Patterson - Old Time Religion (Reprise)
As one might guess from the title, they move back into a revisit of the song that preceded “When the Saints…”

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Midnight Special
This is the first track from 1958 on the disc. Harmonica figures prominently on this song. This piece has always been a strong number and it works quite well here. The majority of the song is delivered with a very stripped down arrangement, letting the vocals truly shine.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee– Climbin’ On Top Of The Hill
Very much an old school, stripped down blues track, this is a cool one. It’s one of my favorites from the disc.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Hooray, Hooray, This Woman Is Killing Me
Here we get another slab that’s not all that different from the one that preceded it.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Fox Chase
The harmonica on this is great, but the whole making noises like a fox thing had me hitting “skip.” Sorry, I am sure there are those who enjoy this, but I simply can’t take this one at all.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee Band - How Long, How Long Blues
After the last piece just about anything would be an improvement. Well, they give us one of the tastier old school blues jams here.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - John Henry
They pump this up with more energy than the previous tracks. It’s another strong piece.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Cornbread, Peas And Black Molasses
Here’s another that’s a more stripped down, old school blues. It’s another highlight of the CD.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Worried Life Blues
This slower piece is really a classic blues tune.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Callin' Mama Blues
The harmonica plays a much bigger role in this fast paced blues tune. It’s another highlight of the CD.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Betty And Dupree
Another slow moving one, this is a bit too much like the rest of the music here. It’s not that it’s bad, but rather that it’s suffering a bit from the sameness. The blues can really feel like that, anyway.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee Band - When The Saints Go Marching In
Here we get a completely different take of the song we heard earlier. This has a much more stripped down arrangement. It’s a strong cut and both are completely different in flavor, making it hard to pick a winner of the two.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - This Little Light Of Mine
A faster paced number ,this is another old school classic. It’s a strong one.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee With The Chris Barber Band & Ottilie Patterson - Glory/I'm Going To Walk And Talk with Jesus
Here we get a faster paced medley of tunes. This features the whole band again and it’s a screamer. It’s one of the strongest performances on show here and consequently a highlight of the disc.

 
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