Wednesday, 4 November 2009

“Roebuck Man“ by ARTHUR “BIG BOY” CRUDUP (1992 Sequel Records CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…I'm Going Down That Sunny Road…" 

Already 64 years old when he recorded this obscure and forgotten Blues album in early 1970 - Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup had cruelly seen 3 of his compositions covered by Elvis Presley (most famously “That’s All Right”) - but because of strange royalty arrangements – never saw any cash for them. But like Curtis Jones, Otis Spann, Muddy Waters and so many other black blues man of the time (who all complained of being ‘done’ by industry types) - they moved to Britain and Europe where their music was being listened to and appreciated by ecstatic white musicians and mixed audiences hungry for the real deal.

Working a small UK tour at the time (financed by The National Blues Federation of the USA) - Crudup stopped into a London studio to record this album. Produced by CHRIS TRIMMING and RON WATTS and engineered by MICK TAUBER, the whole LP was recorded in one day, 26 February 1970 and released in July 1970 on the Stereo LP United Artists UAS 29092 in the UK. Sporting a fetching laminate front sleeve, the album title came from a pub in Putney (featured behind him on the sleeve) where he received a none-to-enlightened reception and famously included an acidic reaction to it in the album’s title track. The LP also included ex members of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Manfred Mann and the newly formed McGuinness Flint - who were all big fans.

The line up was:
ARTHUR “BIG BOY” CRUDUP – Guitar & Vocals
HUGHIE FLINT – Drums (John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, McGuinness Flint)
BENNY GALLAGHER – Guitar, Bass & Vocals (McGuinness Flint, Gallagher & Lyle)
DAVE GELLY – Tenor Sax
TOM McGUINNESS – Guitar (Manfred Mann, McGuinness Flint)

This September 1992 UK CD on Sequel NEX CD 210 (Barcode 5023224121028) is a straightforward transfer of the 13-track album "Roebuck Man" by ARTHUR CRUDUP (digitally remastered at Abbey Road and subtitled "The 1970 London Sessions"). 
All tracks are Arthur Crudup originals and the sound is lovely throughout – warm and full (48:42 minutes). 

1. I Don’t Worry 
2. Needle Time
3. Room And Board 
4. Blind Man Sees 
5. Long Curly Mane 
6. Roebuck Man
7. Old And Grey [Side 2]
8. Before You Go
9. Korrina Korrina
10. Boogie In The Morning
11. Get You In My Arms
12. What Are You Trying To Do?
13. Burying Ground

It’s immediately obvious that the band complimented his voice and songs – most are combo numbers, but “Blind Man Sees” is just him and guitar ala John Lee Hooker. The harsh “Roebuck Man” opens with “If you should have to come to England, please don’t go to the Roebuck man…” but things get more Chicken Shack with the stunning “Room And Board” – thrilling guitar work and the band digging it (lyrics above).

“Corrina Corrina” (not the famous Joe Turner track Corrine, Corrina) is just Crudup and John Lewis on Piano and is wonderful blues – simple and sweet. It then ups a notch when the band joins them on the Jerry Lee Lewis sounding “Boogie In The Morning” – with piano rolls and great sax work from Dave Gelly, if you heard it in a pub, your foot would be pounding the floorboards in glee. He tells “Katy Mae” he loves her in “What Are You Trying To Do?” and the band just chugs along behind him to such sweet effect until he shouts “Take it!” and they start into blues rocking. “Burying Ground” is a dark closer about death and women dressed in red! So - a great little album then and rare on original vinyl. 

Arthur Crudup died in early 1974, aged 68. Blues historians often say that he gave a lot to the blues and an incalculable donation to world history via Elvis Presley and his 1st Sun 7” single in 1955 “That’s All Right” – it’s just such a shame the music business didn’t return the compliment.Still - there is this superb little CD to treasure and rave about. Seek it out…

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