Music Critic Blues | Letters | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » Letters

Music Critic Blues

by

comment

To the editors:

I'd like to clear up a couple of points which were inadvertently muddled in the editing of my review of Rufus Thomas's new record on Alligator, That Woman Is Poison! [May 12].

I originally described Alligator Records as "rapidly becoming a major purveyor of quality soul and roots rock vinyl, as well as being the nation's major independent blues label." (In other words, Alligator is already the nation's major independent blues label, and now it's adding all these other neat things to its resume.) The edited sentence, ". . . rapidly becoming not only a major purveyor of quality soul and roots-rock vinyl but the nation's major independent blues label" seems to reverse the original meaning.

Also, I never used the word "rip-off" to describe Freddie King's appropriation of Jimmy McCracklin's "The Walk" as a part of "Hideaway," largely because, in the strictest sense, it wasn't one. "Hideaway" was a pastiche of well-known pop and R & B riffs of the period (including "The Walk" and the theme from Peter Gunn). Most listeners in the early 60s would have recognized them. The bitter feelings that have occasionally surfaced over the years have been due to the fact that King became famous and relatively affluent with a song fashioned mostly from borrowed phrases (except, of course, the famous length-of-the-fretboard break) while master craftspeople with entirely original ideas have labored away unknown in blues and R & B for years.

While I'm on the subject of errors, let me own up to a few of my own. Both the title and refrain of Dr. John's "Night Tripper" anthem from the album Gris-Gris refer to walking on gilded splinters, not "golden splinters" as I wrote in a concert review a few weeks ago [March 31]. In the same piece I indicated that Dr. John was present on some sides recorded in New Orleans by Charles Brown in the 1950s; Dr. John's own recollections of those sessions, as related in the book Blues by Robert Neff and Anthony Conner, are that he was on hand but his youthful nervousness resulted in his being fired. So I should have said that he was present at the sessions, instead of on the records.

It's been a rough coupla weeks.

David Whiteis

Add a comment