Roosevelt Sykes review…September 24, 2013…

ROOSEVELT SYKES

THE ORIGINAL HONEYDRIPPER

BLIND PIG RECORDS  BPCD  5155

COW COW BLUES–DRIVIN WHEEL–HONEYSUCKLE ROSE–ST. JAMES INFIRMARY–I LIKE WHAT YOU DID–WHAT’D I SAY–I’M A NUT–RUNNING THE BOOGIE–TOO SMART TOO SOON–VIPER SONG–DON’T TALK ME TO DEATH–EARLY MORNING BLUES–PLEASE DON’T TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I’M GONE–DIRTY MOTHER FOR YOU

For those fans who may not be aware, Blind Pig Records was not always located in San francisco, CA.  Back in the mid-Seventies when vinyl was still king, Blind Pig opened for business in Ann Arbor, MI.  Those of us who are fortunate to have some of that vintage vinyl in our collections know that this label was always synonymous with great blues.  And, there is a Blind Pig Cafe that is still a viable venue today, and it was there on April 19 and 20, 1977, that Roosevelt Sykes recorded “The Original Honeydripper,”  live in front of a raucous crowd.

The set was originally released on LP back then, and has now been re–mastered for CD.  Some of the excessve crowd noise is cleaned up, and two tracks have been added.  Just the man, his voice, and his piano, Sykes really put on a show for these fans, ripping thru not only his own material, but songs made popular by others as well.

A contemporary of players such as Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, and Cow Cow Davenport, Sykes recorded for Okeh back in 1929, at age 23, and his compositions such as “Drivin Wheel” and “44 Blues” are vital parts of today’s blues canon.

“Drivin Wheel,” “Don’t Talk Me To Death,” and “Running The Boogie” show the crowd the one thing we’ve always been impressed with—Sykes’ mighty left hand, which drives that boogie beat for all it’s worth.  He gives a nod to jazz standards with “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” and turns in a fine read of “What’d I Say.”

We had two favorites, too.  One of the remastered cuts is a minor-key “St. James Infirmary,” no doubt learned by Sykes during an extended stay in New Orleans.  And, the set closes to rowdy applause after another of Sykes’ originals.  He proudly proclaimed “it was recorded in 1934, and some folks may find it dirty.”  He then launches into the double-entendre’-filled “Dirty Mother For You,” much to the crowd’s delight.

Kudos to the staff at Blind Pig for bringing “The Original Honeydripper” to CD.  Roosevelt Sykes’ contributions to the world of blues piano are huge indeed, and this set captures him at his best–in an intimate sxetting entertaining a great crowd.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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