Brownie McGhee, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry Sing

Yancey Strickler

By Yancey Strickler

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The blues’ most famous duo cranks out the real deal on this grimy and propulsive late-’50s session

Brownie McGhee had a big hit with "My Fault," an amazing electric blues/R&B song he cut in 1948. But in the '50s, the Tennessean and his longtime harmonica accompanist Sonny Terry returned to their acoustic country-blues roots, eventually hooking up with the folk scene in New York. This late-'50s session is grimy and propulsive, as best evidenced by their version of "John Henry," Terry's harmonica a chunky chug of full, rich tones, and the two men's harmonies in the chorus flat-out fantastic. The reverb-drenched "Heart in Sorrow" is the place to start as the interplay between McGhee's six strings, Terry's harp and their voices perfectly illustrates their considerable charm.