Guess what, guessers! Wrong! This week is Music Week here at GO! Tower! That means we've pulled five albums from the P.A.G! Twelfth Floor Employee Lounge Close-N-Play Jukebox, and we will present reviews of these albums all week long.
Today we begin Music Week with Mississippi John Hurt, the blues man for the blues-intolerant listener.
I know what you're saying. "I want me some blues in my collection, but as a musical form, the blues are too repetitive and simplistic. I get bored listening to the blues! Surely there must be some kind of blues that doesn't follow the predictable chord progressions and stereotypical forms of the genre."
Good thing you're saying that, because Mississippi John Hurt is here to salve the soul.
His career would have ended around 1940 or so, except that his music enjoyed a bit of a rediscovery in The Fifties, with the rise of coffee house culture. The album pictured to the left, "Today!", was recorded in 1966, shortly before his death. It's a clean studio recording of Hurt at the end of a long and varied career. So, you won't have the scratchiness of old wax cylinders or anything like that... although there are other Mississippi John albums recorded live, and on questionable equipment, if that's the sound you're after. On "Today!", the only scratchiness will come from Hurt's voice.
"Today!" is a tight thirty minutes or so of Hurt playing pretty much his best songs. The songs are usually a tidy two minutes thirty seconds or so: no longer than they need to be. His playing style was developed kind of in a vacuum, with few outside influences. As a result, he sounds only like himself. His playing is a quiet and intricate picking style that is a departure from any other blues you will find. Also, the structure of his songs bears no resemblance to the predictable and repetitive twelve bar progression that, in my opinion, smothers the interestingness out of almost all other blues.
Here's "Pallet on your Floor", which demonstrates his signature picking style:
Another big favorite of mine is Pay Day. Guess what it's about?
Candy Man is pretty dirty, with the lyrics only thinly veiled in metaphor. Fun enough for you. Safe enough that your kids won't catch on.
You can put on Mississippi John really early in the morning without jarring yourself into waking up too fast, or annoying whoever hasn't gotten out of bed yet. Having a drink before your guests arrive? Mississippi John's your guy. Driving home after a super loud concert? Mississippi John.
Doing some two-beer carpentry in the garage? Oh, you bet Mississippi John.
On other Mississippi John albums, there are some funny songs like "Funky Butt Blues" ("Funky butt, stinky butt, take it away"), but "Today!" is the definitive Hurt album, and may be the only one you really need.
Mississippi John helps you think. It's ten dollars. Buy "Today!", and here's what you'll never say: "God dammit! I wish I hadn't bought that Mississippi John album! What was I thinking?"
Another music tomorrow. See you then!