MISSISSIPPI BLUESMAN LOUISIANA RED
Muddy Waters protÃ©gÃ© shown in his own light
"Originally recorded for Blue Labor, Red pushes his high-tenor voice from desolate moans to exuberant upper-register wails, immersing himself in Kent Cooper's bleak fables as if he had written them himself. His slide work, rooted solidly in the Delta tradition, cuts as fiercely to the bone as his vocals."
-David Whiteis, LIVING BLUES
Heiner Stadler, president of Labor Records, has announced the re-release of Louisiana Red's 1975 recording entitled DEAD STRAY DOG. As a young man, Red followed bluesmen like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Robert Nighthawk and Elmore James learning much from them without ever actually being a sideman. He's unusual in that his instrument was the acoustic guitar - usually bottleneck style, despite the fact that he belongs to the generation of blues players that mostly chose electric. His playing is quite traditional - in the style of the Mississippi Delta. The material on this recording consists of blues lyrics by writer Kent Cooper which were set to music by Red (born Iverson Minter) with the exception of "Caught My Man And Gone" which is Red's tune.
Though other recordings of Louisiana Red were rare in the U.S. until fairly recently, collectors found the occasional disc he did in the Sixties under names like Rocky Fuller, Playboy Fuller, Cryin' Red and Walkin' Slim. His three major recordings apparently earned him nothing, despite excellent sales: 1962's RED'S DREAM on Roulette Records allegedly sold a million copies; he claimed that LOWDOWN BACKPORCH BLUES, also on Roulette, earned him nothing, either. Red's exploitation at the hands of record companies continued when his early 1970's Atco LP LOUISIANA SINGS THE BLUES mysteriously ended up plunging him into debt with the record company. Red is also featured as a sideman on Labor Records #7009: PEG LEG SAM JACKSON'S "Early In The Morning" and Labor Records #7003: JOHNNY SHINES' "Too Wet To Plow." Three years after recording "Dead Stray Dog" Red moved to Europe for better-paying performances and was not known to perform in the United States for years after that.
"Loaded with sweat and emotion, this collection with its exceptionally
good recording quality, is highly recommended as a solid listening investment."
- Doug Langille, CODA
review / LIVING BLUES
Kent Cooper's liner notes tell us that he wrote most of these songs sitting in bars, feeling sorry for himself. That information might turn most listeners away; but in the hands of Louisiana Red, who has endured personal travails that would have destroyed a lesser man, even the most lugubrious tales of woe take on the steely glint of authenticity and courage.
Red's in-studio creations can be chaotic, but for this solo acoustic outing, originally recorded in 1975 for Blue Labor in White Plains, New York, he was well centered. He pushes his high-tenor voice from desolate moans to exuberant upper-register wails, immersing himself in Cooper's bleak fables as if he had written them himself. His slide work, rooted solidly in the Delta tradition, cuts as fiercely to the bone as his vocals.
The "Dead Stray Dog" of the title tune is a haunting archetype for a lonely traveler destined to die alone. On "New Jersey Women," Red screams like Elmore James over some whip-slapping slide; "Held Up In One Town," a tale of a down-and-outer trapped in a wintry city who feasts his eyes with hopeless desire on women passing by, is enervated by Red's spine-shivering slide solo. His rich laughter and half-chuckled asides add a bracing dose of blues irony.
"Caught My man And Gone" is a dark-hued modal boogie, replete with defiant affirmations of pride in the face of mistreatment at the hands of a lover. One wishes, however, that Red had come up with a few more verses. "My Heart's A Loser," built around a fierce triplet slide riff, is again obviously influenced by Elmore James (with added echoes of Joe Willie Wilkins in Red's playing); "Tall White Horse" is another defiant anthem; the disturbing "Back To The Road Again" cuts to the heart of darkness that can lurk behind prideful passion.
The way Louisiana Red wraps himself around this material, most of which is not strictly blues and was written by someone else, is remarkable. A lesser artist might have indulged in histrionics, but Red mines these songs for their tragic essence.
-David Whiteis, LIVING BLUES
Check out the artist's website:
1. Dead Stray Dog
2. New Jersey Women
3. Held Up In One Town
4. Bad Case Of The Blues
5. Caught My Man And Gone
6. My Heart's A Loser
7. Riding On A Tall White Horse
8. Cold White Sheet
9. Going Train Blues
10. Back To The Road Again
11. My Baby's Coming Home
12. Cold Feeling