November 19, 2002
Jazz, Early R&B, Jump Blues, Bop, West Coast Blues, New York Blues, Regional Blues

Album Review

Cleanhead Vinson recorded a dozen sides for Mercury during the second half of 1947, using a significantly smaller ensemble than the big band he'd assembled in 1945. His scaled-down group was composed of trumpeter John Hunt, tenor saxophonist Lee Pope, baritone saxophonist Greely Walton, and a strong rhythm section in Earl Van Riper, Leonard Swain, and Butch Ballard. This is easy-flowing jump blues fortified with Vinson's powerful voice and righteous alto sax. "Oil Man Blues," a pleasantly smutty tribute to human sexuality filled with bold references to "drilling" and "flowing," fits nicely into a long tradition of sexually informed blues and boogie. "I Took the Front Door In," a bracing report on domestic chicanery, opens with a fine alto sax solo not unlike Charlie Parker's expert handling of the blues idiom. Speaking of Bird, Vinson's next move was to veer even closer to Parker's example by recording two bop-infused instrumentals, the sizzling "Friday Fish Fry" and a laid-back stroll called "Shave Tail" with an easy loping gait worthy of Don Byas or Lester Young. Vinson's recording career was interrupted by the 1948 recording ban and resumed on August 10, 1949, with the first of several sessions that took place in the King studios in Cincinnati, OH. His new band was at least as strong as the previous group. For jazz heads the presence of tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and pianist Wynton Kelly makes this part of the Cleanhead discography most interesting, particularly the cool instrumental entitled "Eddie's Bounce." But most of these tracks land smack in the middle of the bitchy urban blues tradition, with Cleanhead shouting the blues in that wonderfully hard-edged voice so likely to crack and whistle at just the right moments.
arwulf arwulf, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. When I Get Drunk
  2. Oil Man Blues
  3. Ever-Ready Blues
  4. Wrong Girl Blues
  5. Wandering Mind Blues
  6. Have You Ever Missed Your Baby?
  7. Some Women Do
  8. Alimony Blues
  9. High Class Baby
  10. I Took the Front Door in (I Took the Backdoor Out)
  11. Friday Fish Fry
  12. Shave Tail
  13. Ashes on My Pillow
  14. I'm Gonna Wind Your Clock
  15. Wineola
  16. Somebody Done Stole My Cherry Red
  17. Eddie's Bounce
  18. I'm Weak But Willing
  19. Featherbed Mama
  20. No Good Woman Blues