Classic Cuts 1946-1953
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Lowell Fulson was one of the most creative figures in post war blues. He wrote and recorded such classics as Reconsider Baby and Tramp and was a major star. These superb and rare early sides document how his career started with some amazingly good Country Blues stylings and then developed into the tough, small group rhythm & blues styling that took him through the 1950's.
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Fulson is likely best known for his mid-50's stint with Chess where he put down "Reconsider Baby" and "Hung Down Head", then later for some of his more "funky" recordings on Modern-Kent like "Tramp" and "Too Many Drivers" but these early sides define the man and explore the Texas blues sound that had blossomed in California (Fulson was actually born in Oklahoma) during the 1940's.
Lowell was a comtemporary of Gatemouth Brown and Pee Wee Crayton. Each of these 3 guitar titans enlarged and popularized the "Front-of-the-Bandstand" style that T-Bone Walker had carved out his reputation with on the West Coast. On this set we are treated not only to Lowell the "Electric" bluesman but also to the hypnotically simple but effective two-guitar duets with his brother Martin. Those duets clearly show Lowell's south-western roots laying firmly in the tradition established by Lemon Jefferson and Texas Alexander 2 decades earlier.
This set contains a number of superlatives of which there are too many to discuss in a short review. Fulson's bands from this period included Jay McShann, Maxwell Davis (later to become B.B. King's arranger), Lloyd Glenn, Earl Brown, Bob Harvey, and Billy Hadnott, each of them session stalwarts of the West Coast R&B scene. McShann of course, was already an established star from Kansas City with his own big band.
Lowell was not one to stick to a singular format and his 40 year plus career owed its longevity to his ability to adapt his sound to the changing times. It is interesting to note on this set, the influences from the big players of the times like Nat Cole, T-Bone Walker, and Charles Brown.
These sides were culled from the dozens of recordings that Lowell made in San Francisco and Los Angeles for independent record company owners Bob Geddins (Big Town) and Jack Lauderdale (DownBeat/Swing Time). Among the included titles are his earliest hit "Trouble Blues" from 1946, "Three O'Clock Blues" from 1948, and his beautiful rendition of "Every Day I Have the Blues" from 1949, both of which pre-dated B.B.'s versions by several years. Lowell had a big tough voice that was well-suited to singing the blues but he could be a master of the guitar instrumental just the same and this is demonstrated by the fine "Low Society", "Guitar Shuffle" and "Juke Box Shuffle".
Several of the songs from Fulson's early period were to be revisited several years later when he went to Chess although the basic arrangements were little changed on the Chess versions.
Neil Slaven's liner notes to this set detail the problems with attempting to establish the recording chronology for many of the titles since the record companies involved didn't maintain much written history for the sessions and after 30 and 40 years, the participants had forgotten a lot.
Lowell Fulson passed on over 5 years ago. Finally we have a compilation that does justice to the rich legacy that he laid down. JSP needs to be commended for issuing this material. Every Fulson fan will be rewarded with years of pleasure by putting this one in their collection.