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Frank Frost Big Boss Man

Big Boss Man
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Legendary and sought-after collector's item recorded in '62 by Sam Phillips for his 'Phillips... more

Frank Frost: Big Boss Man

Legendary and sought-after collector's item recorded in '62 by Sam Phillips for his 'Phillips International' subsidiary. Great 'lazy style' harmonica blues, inspiration for many white guys like Kim Wilson, co-founder of the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Article properties: Frank Frost: Big Boss Man

Frost, Frank - Big Boss Man CD 1
01 Big Boss Man
02 Jelly Roll King
03 What You Gonna Do
04 You're So Kind
05 Pocket Full Of Shells
06 Lucky To Be Living
07 Now Twist
08 Crawl Back
09 So Tired Of Living By Myself
10 Gonna Make You Mine
11 Jack's Jump
Frank Frost Sam Phillips launched Sun Records on a nutritious diet of hard-hitting blues in... more
"Frank Frost"

Frank Frost

Sam Phillips launched Sun Records on a nutritious diet of hard-hitting blues in 1952. A decade later, he'd abandoned the genre almost entirely until Frank Frost came along. Doubling on racked harmonica and guitar, Frost's brand of electrified juke joint-approved blues was as uncompromisingly raw as those of Howlin' Wolf and Joe Hill Louis had been when Phillips produced them. Sam placed Frank and his Night Hawks (guitarist Big Jack Johnson and drummer Sam Carr) on his Phillips International label, releasing an entire LP on the trio titled 'Hey Boss Man!' as well as the hard-hitting single Jelly Roll King.

Born in Augusta, Arkansas on April 15, 1936, Frost became musically active after moving to St. Louis in 1951. After taking up the harmonica with the help of Willie Foster, Carr—the son of slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk—hired Frank as a member of Carr's Blue Kings. By then, Frost was playing guitar as well. The pair joined harp master Sonny Boy Williamson's outfit in '56.

"We went to a little place in Missouri," said the late Frost. "We had to play there, and he had to play there. So we were playing downstairs, and he was playing upstairs." Soon enough they were playing together. Irascible Sonny Boy had no use for the capo Frank used on his guitar. "We got on this bridge comin' to Chicago, and he told me, 'Let me see it,'" said Frost. "I just thought he wanted to look at it. And he throwed it off the bridge! Ever since then, I've been usin' it without a clamp. I didn't have no choice!" 

Johnson, born July 30, 1940 in Lambert, Mississippi, played in his father's combo in his early teens to hone his skills on guitar. He inaugurated a long musical partnership with Frost and Carr in 1962 after catching them at the Savoy Theater in Clarksdale, Mississippi. "You know it was something special," said the late Johnson. "Yeah, man, these cats was out of sight. Frank was the vocalist, blowing the harp with the rack and playing guitar. That was something we hadn't seen around here." 

Probably cut April 28, 1962, Jelly Roll King was a throwback to an earlier era, Frost's combo locking in on a tough Jimmy Reed-style shuffle groove that Frost settles into with juke joint-tested assurance, his wailing harp complementing his lowdown vocal delivery. Neither the single nor the LP made any ripples commercially, but Phillips' last shot at producing southern blues was a delight.

Frost cut another album, this time in Nashville, for Stan Lewis' Jewel label in 1966 that was produced by Elvis' ex-guitarist Scotty Moore; My Back Scratcher, his answer to Slim Harpo's Baby Scratch My Back, blossomed into an R&B hit. Big Jack and Sam remained the nucleus of Frost's band, and the set was as gloriously pure as its illustrious predecessor. The trio kept on entertaining audiences around Clarksdale and Lula until they were rediscovered by Chicago-based producer Michael Frank. He launched the Earwig label to release the trio's '78 album 'Rockin' The Juke Joint Down,' renaming Frost, Johnson, and Carr the Jelly Roll Kings. 

By 1987, Frank and Big Jack were both successfully recording on their own. Frost died October 12, 1999, but Johnson, nicknamed 'the Oil Man,' kept on performing until his death from kidney failure on March 14, 2011 in Memphis. His profile raised in recent years by a trophy case full of awards, Carr passed away September 21, 2009. As a unit, this threesome cut some of the meanest blues of their time.

Bill Dahl
Chicago, Illinois

PLUG IT IN! TURN IT UP!

Electric Blues 1939-2005. - The Definitive Collection!

 

aufgegeben, als er Frank Frost traf. Der spielte Gitarre und gleichzeitig eine Bluesharp im Gestell und produzierte mit seiner Band elektrischen, Juke-Joint-gestählten Blues, der genauso kompromisslos war wie Howlin' Wolf und Joe Hill Louis, als Phillips sie produzierte. Sam brachte Frank und seine Night Hawks (Gitarrist Big Jack Johnson und Drummer Sam Carr) auf seinem Phillips International Label unter und veröffentlichte eine LP des Trios als 'Hey Boss Man!' sowie die kernig zur Sache gehende Single Jelly Roll King 

Am 15. April 1936 in Augusta, Arkansas, geboren, wurde Frost musikalisch aktiv, nachdem er 1951 nach St. Louis gezogen war. Willie Foster half ihm beim Erlernen des Bluesharpspiels. Carr – Sohn des Slidegitarristen Robert Nighthawk – engagierte Frank für seine Blue Kings. Inzwischen spielte Frost auch Gitarre; 1956 wurden beide Mitglieder der Band des Harpmeisters Sonny Boy Williamson.

"Wir waren in einem kleinen Laden in Missouri", erzählte Frost. "Wir mussten dort spielen, und er auch. Also spielten wir unten und er oben." Es dauerte nicht lange und sie arbeiteten zusammen. Der leicht aufbrausende Sonny Boy konnte es nicht leiden, dass Frank seine Gitarre mit Kapodaster spielte. "Wir waren auf einer  Brücke auf dem Weg nach Chicago und er sagte: 'Zeig mir das Ding mal.' Ich dachte, er wollte es sich anschauen. Und da hat er es von der Brücke geworfen! Seitdem spiel ich ohne Kapo. Es blieb mir nichts anderes übrig! 

Johnson, am 30. Juli 1940 in Lambert, Mississippi, geboren, spielte im frühen Teenageralter in der Band seines Vaters, um seine Gitarrenkenntnisse zu verbessern. Er begann 1962 eine lange musikalische Partnerschaft mit Frost und Carr, nachdem er beide im Savoy Theater in Clarksdale, Mississippi, erlebt hatte. "Das war schon was Besonderes", sagte der 2011 verstorbene Big Jack. "Diese Typen – einfach klasse! Frank war der Sänger, blies die Harp im Gestell und spielte Gitarre. So was hatten  wir hier noch nicht gesehen."

Jelly Roll King wurde wahrscheinlich am 28. April 1962 eingespielt und klang wie aus einer früheren Ära: Frosts gut eingespielte Combo legt einen harten Shuffle-Groove im Stil von Jimmy Reed hin, über dem Frost mit urigem Gesang und scharfen Mundharmonika-Antworten seine ganze Juke-Joint-Erfahrung ausspielen konnte. Doch weder die Single noch die LP schlugen kommerziell ein, Phillips' letzte Southern-Blues-Produktion war trotzdem ein musikalischer Leckerbissen.

Frost nahm 1966 eine weitere LP auf, diesmal in Nashville für Stan Lewis' Jewel-Label, produziert von Elvis' früherem Gitarristen Scotty Moore; My Back Scratcher, seine Antwort auf Slim Harpos Baby Scratch My Back, wurde zu einem R&B-Hit. Big Jack und Sam stellten weiterhin den Kern von Frosts Band, und das Album war genauso wunderbar puristisch wie sein Vorgänger. Das Trio unterhielt in den Folgejahren weiterhin sein Publikum in der Gegend von Clarksdale und Lula, bis sie vom Chicagoer Produzenten Michael Frank wiederentdeckt wurden. Er gründete sein Earwig-Label, um 1978 die die Trio-LP 'Rockin' The Juke Joint Down' zu veröffentlichen; er benannte Frost, Johnson und Carr dafür in The Jelly Roll Kings um.

Ab 1987 waren Frank und Big Jack beide unter eigenem Namen erfolgreich. Frost verstarb am 12. Oktober 1999, aber Johnson trat weiterhin auf, häufig mit dem Beinamen "The Oil Man", bis zu seinem Tod aufgrund Nierenversagens am 14. März 2011 in Memphis. Sam Carr konnte sich in seinen letzten Jahren durch eine ganze Reihe von Auszeichnungen weiter profilieren und starb am 21. September 2009. Als eingespielte Gruppe haben die drei einige der großartigsten Bluesaufnahmen ihrer Zeit gemacht.

 

Bill Dahl
Chicago, Illinois

PLUG IT IN! TURN IT UP!

Electric Blues 1939-2005. - The Definitive Collection!

 

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