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Fenton Robinson Monday Morning Boogie & Blues (2-CD)

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(Sunset Boulevard Records) 28 tracks, digisleeve 2 CD Set - Studio & Live from the vaults of... more

Fenton Robinson: Monday Morning Boogie & Blues (2-CD)

(Sunset Boulevard Records) 28 tracks, digisleeve

2 CD Set - Studio & Live from the vaults of Seventy Seven Records. His Japanese fans reverently called Fenton Robinson the gentle blues genius for his ultra-soft vocals and jazzy guitar work.

But behind the obvious subtlety was a spark of constant renewal Robinson tirelessly strove to invent something fresh and vibrant whenever he was on a stage.

John Richbourg's Sound Stage 7/Seventy 7 labels, cut 19 sides, including his signature song Somebody Loan Me a Dime, an absolute milestone in his career that showcased his rich, satisfying voice and and free-spirited, unobtrusive guitar work against a rocking, horn-driven band.

Article properties: Fenton Robinson: Monday Morning Boogie & Blues (2-CD)

Robinson, Fenton - Monday Morning Boogie & Blues (2-CD) CD 1
01 Somebody loan me a dime Fenton Robinson
02 The sky is crying Fenton Robinson
03 Smokestack lightning Fenton Robinson
04 Little red rooster Fenton Robinson
05 Moanin' for my baby Fenton Robinson
06 Don't me to talkin' Fenton Robinson
07 Stormy monday Fenton Robinson
08 Leave you in the arms (of your other man) Fenton Robinson
09 Let me come home Fenton Robinson
10 The getaway Fenton Robinson
11 Sideman Fenton Robinson
12 Give you some air Fenton Robinson
13 I'm not through loving you Fenton Robinson
14 Mellor fellow Fenton Robinson
15 She's a wiggler Fenton Robinson
16 Little turch Fenton Robinson
17 I wanna ooh! Fenton Robinson
18 Laughing and crying blues Fenton Robinson
19 I fell in love one time Fenton Robinson
Robinson, Fenton - Monday Morning Boogie & Blues (2-CD) CD 2
01 Going to chicago Fenton Robinson
02 Country girl Fenton Robinson
03 Loan me a dime Fenton Robinson
04 As the years go passing by Fenton Robinson
05 My girl Fenton Robinson
06 Everyday i have the blues Fenton Robinson
07 Blue monday Fenton Robinson
08 Instrumental Fenton Robinson
09 Just a little bit Fenton Robinson
Fenton Robinson Alligator Records was establishing itself as a source for ‘genuine... more
"Fenton Robinson"

Fenton Robinson

Alligator Records was establishing itself as a source for ‘genuine houserocking music,' but Fenton Robinson didn't fit the mold. Japanese fans dubbed Fenton ‘the Mellow Blues Genius,' his jazzy, complex lead guitar runs and smoothly burnished vocals backing up the bold billing.

Born July 26, 1935 in Greenwood, Mississippi, Fenton started out singing in church. "I was born with that," said the late Robinson. "Came up a kid singing spirituals, and I turned from spirituals to blues." That turnaround occurred when he was "a kid growing up in the country. On the weekend, my parents would let us go to town. I'd sit around and listen to the box, the jukebox. Put a nickel in--it was a nickel then--and listen to guys like T-Bone Walker, ‘Big Boy' Crudup, Lowell Fulson, Muddy Waters. And then I got interested in playing blues. T-Bone Walker was my idol, so I built around that and went into a style of my own.

"I started playing guitar in '51. Memphis, Tennessee. There was a friend of mine taught me how to play by the name of Charles McGowan. He was playing, and I bought myself a $13 Stella guitar. We used to walk the streets at night, playing and singing," he said. "They always had an amateur show at the, I think it was the Palace or the New Daisy Theater there on Beale Street in Memphis. And we would go there every Wednesday night and be on the talent show."

Robinson made his first single in 1957 on Lester Bihari's Memphis-based Meteor label, Tennessee Woman. Later that year while in Little Rock, he joined forces with singer/bassist Larry Davis, the two signing with Duke Records in ‘58. "A guy by the name of Irv Forbes recommended me to Don Robey," said Fenton, who played lead guitar on Davis' original Texas Flood. Robinson had four Duke singles in all, notably the original As The Years Go By (see Part 2, CD 2) and a remade Tennessee Woman with New Orleans pianist James Booker contributing rippling piano, both cut in 1959. 

"I came to Chicago in 1961. Started working down at Theresa's Lounge, 48th and Indiana, and I worked there four or five years," Robinson said. "Things was really rough. I got a little fed up with playing music, so I just worked with other guys and worked a day job part-time." Things eventually turned around. Fenton ended a long recording drought with the '66 swinger Say You're Leavin' for U.S.A. The next year he cut the original Somebody (Loan Me A Dime) for Sunny Sawyer's Palos label. There were three 45s for Mel Collins and Joshie Jo Armstead's Giant logo, and in 1970 Fenton cut an unsatisfying album with Nashville rock musicians for John Richbourg's Seventy 7 label. "I wasn't very happy with that one," he said. "They were sorry after they recorded the album that I didn't play more guitar on it."

Fenton's first Alligator album ‘Somebody Loan Me A Dime' was a 1974 masterpiece, beautifully spotlighting his buttery voice and subtle, understated axe. The remade title track, credited to Fenton, singer Jesse Anderson, and one Milton Middlebrook (an alias for Collins), improves on the original, Fenton's majestic guitar hook a thing of beauty. "I really like the way that came out," he said. Nine months in prison on an involuntary manslaughter rap stemming from an auto accident several years earlier seriously damaged his momentum, but soon after his release Robinson got to work on his '77 Alligator encore LP ‘I Hear Some Blues Downstairs.'

Robinson had been in another car crash back in 1952 that caused a serious head injury. He blamed that for causing the brain tumor that ended his life in Rockford, Illinois on November 25, 1997. "Over a period of years, if you stay with it, you come up with beautiful sounds, beautiful chord progressions," said Robinson, the personification of electric blues guitar class to the very end.

 

Bill Dahl
Chicago, Illinois

PLUG IT IN! TURN IT UP!

Electric Blues 1939-2005. - The Definitive Collection!

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Tracklist
Robinson, Fenton - Monday Morning Boogie & Blues (2-CD) CD 1
01 Somebody loan me a dime
02 The sky is crying
03 Smokestack lightning
04 Little red rooster
05 Moanin' for my baby
06 Don't me to talkin'
07 Stormy monday
08 Leave you in the arms (of your other man)
09 Let me come home
10 The getaway
11 Sideman
12 Give you some air
13 I'm not through loving you
14 Mellor fellow
15 She's a wiggler
16 Little turch
17 I wanna ooh!
18 Laughing and crying blues
19 I fell in love one time
Robinson, Fenton - Monday Morning Boogie & Blues (2-CD) CD 2
01 Going to chicago
02 Country girl
03 Loan me a dime
04 As the years go passing by
05 My girl
06 Everyday i have the blues
07 Blue monday
08 Instrumental
09 Just a little bit