Monday, July 22, 2013

Sunny Road reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis

Sunny Road

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup
Delmark Records
10 tracks/40:32

Delmark Records' Bob Koester has done it again with the release of Arthur Crudup's “Sunny Road” CD. This recording is a never before released 1969 studio session featuring 9 great tunes and a very thought provoking conversation between Crudup and Koester. On this recording Crudup is backed by Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums and Mark Thompson strumming bass plus guitar on one tune. Rounding out this group of strong blues musicians is Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins adding his his awesome guitar style to the mix on three tracks.

Arthur Crudup was around playing his style of deep feeling blues forever starting in the early 40's. He is well known for writing tunes such as “That's All Right”, “My Baby Left Me, “Mean Old Frisco” and “Rock Me Mama”. Considered to be the father of Rock & Roll by some, he had several tunes recorded by Elvis Presley. Elvis did give Crudup credit for penning the tunes but he did not receive royalties for them. Because of this fact Arthur referred to Elvis as Elvin Preston. Different sources view his relationship with Presley in both the plus and negative way. After his passing, Crudup's family finally received some past due royalties.

Arthur's great guitar sound comes from using rotating Leslie speakers which create a very unique quality . Right from the start, with “Sunny Road”, we are aware that we are going on to hear a strong blues experience. To pick out 2 or 3 tunes that stand out on this CD is impossible as they are all outstanding listening material. Almost all of the tunes have a somber, drag down, depressive tone to them. This may reflect upon the times Crudup was going through at this time. I guess, after all, that this is what the blues are about.

“Trying To Take Me For A Ride” is one of those “whoa is me, life sucks” stories.  With lyrics such as “ I'm my mama's bad luck child” and “My woman pays me no mind” Crudup conjures up a vision that life is just a bummer and “everybody I meet in the street is is trying to take me for a ride”. This is truly some heartfelt blues. The guitar soloing on this track also standout. My favorite on “Sunny Road” has to be “All I got Is Gone”. Crudup is joined  on guitar with Jimmy Dawkins as Willie “Big Eyes” Smith beats out a unique drum line. The bass line from Mark Thompson is very good here also. This tune is filled with sad, almost mournful, heartfelt feelings about losing his spouse. This track is very emotional and seems like Crudup was struggling to make it to the end. This is the story of being “left alone with no one to care for me” and “why did the Lord take my baby from me”. Big Eyes plays the drums as if he is trying to get Crudup to the finish of the song. This is really a deep poignant tale of great personal loss.

Arthur Crudup had a voice that was truly an amazing instrument to tell us stories of life with great lyrics. “Sunny Road” is an outstanding example of great blues recorded and preserved for us to enjoy. Thanks to Delmark records this great blues session was not lost in the dust.

Reviewed by Harmonica Joe

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