Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 6 1940

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Along with Blind Willie McTell, Fuller is the most compelling of the Piedmont bluesmen, an intricate guitarist and robust singer with a large and varied repertoire; he was also one of the last commercially potent country bluesmen. The North Carolina street singer was best known for nimble, acrobatic rags: "Step It Up and Go" and "Trucking My Blues" are the most enduring, though "Rag, Mama, Rag" (with Rev. Gary Davis), "Piccolo Rag" and "Big Leg Woman Gets My Pay" are nearly as strong. Davis was also devastating on slow blues like "Keep Away From My Woman" and "My Brownskin Sugar Plum," and virtuoso slide workouts like "Homesick and Lonesome Blues." He was hysterically profane on barely-double-entendres like "What's That Smells Like Fish" and suitably pious on gospel material like Davis '"Twelve Gates to the City." He may have been a synthesizer rather than innovator, but hey, so was Robert Johnson. In the case of both men, nobody did it better.