Tail Dragger review…May 11, 2013…

TAIL DRAGGER

STOP LYIN’

DELMARK RECORDS   DE 828

SO EZEE–WHERE DID YOU GO–AIN’T GONNA CRY NO MO–DON’T YOU WANT A GOOD MAN–MY HEAD IS BALD–ALABAMA BOUND–DON’T TRUST YO WOMAN–PLEASE MR. JAILER–STOP LYIN’–TAIL’S TALE

 

Born James Yancy Jones, Tail Dragger was given that nickname by the legend Howlin’ Wolf himself, when Jones worked for the Wolf in clubs all over Chicago, and who would invariably show up late for work.  As the years passed by, and many of the greats had passed on, Wolf’s prediction that “one day this boy is gonna take my place” may well have come true.  Tail Dragger is still a viable force on the contemporary blues scene, and his latest release for Delmark, “Stop Lyin,’ was recorded around 1980, and is just now seeing the light of day.  It is a veritable time capsule of the West Side scene during that time.  Tail Dragger had been using a truck bed as a stage while playing at the Delta Fishmarket, and the backing players on this set came together at this venue.  Johnny B. Moore and little-known Jesse Williams are on guitar, Larry Taylor is on drums, Willie Kent is on bass, and Little Mack Simmons and Eddie “JewTown” Burks are on harp.  Of the nine original cuts, two of them appeared on a 45 RPM for Jimmy Dawkins’ Leric label, “So Ezee” and “My Head Is Bald,” featuring Simmons on harp and an overdubbed Lafayette Leake on piano.  The other cuts show Tail Dragger doing what he does best–entertaining us with songs that deal with life, love, and making the morally-correct choice, often while poking good-natured fun at himself.

“Ain’t Gonna Cry No Mo” and “Please Mr. Jailer” are sweet slow-blues numbers, and he would revisit the latter on one of his more recent sets.  “Stop Lyin’ and “Don’t You Want a Good Man” are straight-up shuffles, and the band is on fire behind him.  They even tackle a few of the Wolf’s songs, done up Tail Dragger style, “Where Did You Go,” and “Don’t Trust Your Woman.”

 

Perhaps the most intriguing cut of all is “Tail’s Tale,” an interview of sorts about this album.  In it, Tail Dragger speaks of characters such as Necktie Nate and Iron Jaw Harris, and clubs such as Pepper’s, The Golden Slipper, and The Rat Trap.  Tail’s played with all the best, too, such as Big Mojo Ellem, Lucky Lopez, Left Hand Frank, and Jimmy Dawkins, just to name a few.  This is a humorous yet poignant piece about the state of Chicago blues in the early 80’s.

 

Tail Dragger has persevered thru good times and bad, remaining not only an active player in today’s blues world, but one of the last links to the halcyon heyday of Chicago blues.  “Stop Lyin” is a timeless set from a dynamic performer!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

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