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Byther Smith Working Man's Blues (2-CD)

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(JSP) Electric Chicago Blues 1962-1990. Includes unissued live tracks plus rare 45s CD1: The...more

Byther Smith: Working Man's Blues (2-CD)

(JSP)
Electric Chicago Blues 1962-1990. Includes unissued live tracks plus rare 45s

CD1: The Soto Sound Session 1989

CD2: The 45s plus 5 tracks Live Belgium 1990

Article properties:Byther Smith: Working Man's Blues (2-CD)

  • Interpret: Byther Smith

  • Album titlle: Working Man's Blues (2-CD)

  • Label JSP

  • Genre Blues

  • Artikelart CD

  • EAN: 0788065251024

  • weight in Kg 0.107
Smith, Byther - Working Man's Blues (2-CD) CD 1
01What Have I DoneByther Smith
02Addressing The Nation With The BluesByther Smith
03Hello Mrs. BrownByther Smith
04I Was Coming HomeByther Smith
05I Wish My Mother Was ThereByther Smith
06Looking For A WomanByther Smith
07Movin'
08Ain't No SunshineByther Smith
09Play The Blues On The MoonByther Smith
10Put Your Arms Around MeByther Smith
11What Is ThisByther Smith
12You Should Be Proud Of Your DaughterByther Smith
Smith, Byther - Working Man's Blues (2-CD) CD 2
01Thanks You Mr. KennedyByther Smith
02Champion GirlByther Smith
03Give Me My White Robe Pt.1Byther Smith
04Give Me My White Robe Pt.2Byther Smith
05Money TreeByther Smith
06I'm So UnhappyByther Smith
07What Have I DoneByther Smith
08Sweet SixteenByther Smith
09Tell Me How You Like ItByther Smith
10Come On In This HouseByther Smith
11This Little VoiceByther Smith
12Movin' OnByther Smith
13It's My Own FaultByther Smith
14Messin' With The KidByther Smith
15The Thrill Is Gone - Talk To Your DaughterByther Smith
Byther Smith The Natural Rhythm Social Club is a modest urban juke on the corner of 59th and... more
"Byther Smith"

Byther Smith

The Natural Rhythm Social Club is a modest urban juke on the corner of 59th and Damen on Chicago's South Side. It's a working-class neighborhood, predominantly African-American – the type of community that originally gave rise to the blues. Here, the music and its spirit continue to inform the day-to-day lives of people who work hard, play hard, and struggle to contend with the unpredictable, often daunting, realities of life in 21st Century urban America. These days, though, the "blues" that's usually considered popular in neighborhoods like this is the R&B-influenced amalgam of styles known variously as "soul-blues" and "southern soul."

The more traditional twelve-bar postwar sound, at least according to stereotype, has lost its ability to capture the minds and hearts of contemporary African-American listeners. But on the evening of Friday, August 17, 2007, Byther Smith brought his rugged ensemble of musical stalwarts to deliver a blast of straight-ahead Chicago blues as raw and uncompromising as anything that has ever emanated from the Windy City, and the crowd responded with rapture throughout the night. His performance, as usual, was both a throwback to the music's postwar glory days and a timeless celebration of the struggles and triumphs of the human spirit. Smitty may not be as well-known, even in Chicago, as legendary figures like Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Nowlin' Wolf; his name may not often be invoked along with the likes of Robert Johnson and Lightnin' Hopkins when the subject of "blues poets" comes up.

But in his own unpretentious and utterly dauntless way, he has earned a place in the same pantheon. If you think that's an overstatement, just listen to "Give Up My Life For You." "Baby Jesus died!" Smitty hollers, in a voice as corrugated and wounding as a sun-baked Mississippi dirt road. "He died for this world!" He then follows it up with the harrowing clincher: "I am 'Baby' – don't let Him die for you, girl!" Few, if any, other contemporary bluesmen could conjure up a lyric so layered with surrealistic juxtapositions of meaning, imagery and flat-out anguish—and that's just the first verse.


Smitty can be just as riveting when he's revisiting others' material. He cagily melds ideas and influences drawn from the postwar blues legacy, and in so doing imbues even the tried-and-true with new and exciting life. Here he digs into the Magic Sam Iickbook for his recreation of Rice Miller's "Don't Start Me Talkin'" – and in the process transforms a trickster's ode to signifying and troublemaking into a threat from a belligerent soul bent on wreaking havoc and leaving decimation in his wake. His take on the venerable "Rock Me" theme also invokes Sam's trademark riff, but again, Smitty makes the material his own: when Muddy Waters sang the song, it was taut with erotic tension, yet it promised release and pleasure later on; Smitty's leathery vocals, which pack a punch as potent as the ones his fists delivered back in his boxing days, make it clear that this Lothario does not intend to be denied, and may the Lord have mercy on any poor soul who tries it. (As he sings on "If You Love Me": "I don't care how bad I mistreat you, if you love me you won't let me down" – hearts, flowers, and romance these blues are not.) It's never possible, of course, to say for certain what fuels the muse of a creative artist; but even a cursory overview of the Byther Smith story reveals a set of experiences that could almost serve as a template for the archetypical blues life. He was born in Monticello, Mississippi on April 17, 1933.

Both of his parents died before he was one year old, and a few years later one of his sisters perished in a house fire. When he was fifteen, he left the Mississippi farm on which he was then living with an aunt and an uncle, and headed West. In Prescott, Arizona, he worked with cattle and played acoustic bass in a country band. This was also when he began to cultivate his interest in boxing –for a man who'd had to fight to live virtually since the day he was born, earning a living through fisticuffs must have seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Some time in the '50s he moved to Chicago. There, under the tutelage of his cousin J.B. Lenoir (whose classic "Mama Talk To Your Daughter" Smitty refers to here, albeit somewhat obliquely, on "Your Mama's Crazy"), he took up the guitar and began to gig around the local clubs. He attained a measure of neighborhood celebrity and he recorded a few sides for small labels; but it wasn't until the '80s, when he began to tour more widely and he recorded his first full-length LP (1988's Housefire, on the Razor label)...

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Tracklist
Smith, Byther - Working Man's Blues (2-CD) CD 1
01 What Have I Done
02 Addressing The Nation With The Blues
03 Hello Mrs. Brown
04 I Was Coming Home
05 I Wish My Mother Was There
06 Looking For A Woman
07 Movin'
08 Ain't No Sunshine
09 Play The Blues On The Moon
10 Put Your Arms Around Me
11 What Is This
12 You Should Be Proud Of Your Daughter
Smith, Byther - Working Man's Blues (2-CD) CD 2
01 Thanks You Mr. Kennedy
02 Champion Girl
03 Give Me My White Robe Pt.1
04 Give Me My White Robe Pt.2
05 Money Tree
06 I'm So Unhappy
07 What Have I Done
08 Sweet Sixteen
09 Tell Me How You Like It
10 Come On In This House
11 This Little Voice
12 Movin' On
13 It's My Own Fault
14 Messin' With The Kid
15 The Thrill Is Gone - Talk To Your Daughter