Bukka White, The Vintage Recordings 1930 – 1940 “Aberdeeen Mississippi Blues”

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

That's Booker White, bub, and don't you forget it. After all, he was one of the most original and personal bluesmen in all of the Delta, even if the bulk of his work was done after the music's heyday and he didn't really get his due until the '60s. White made a National steel guitar sound the way a bed of nails feels, while creating complicated rhythms that had as much momentum as the trains he often sang about. His moody, mercurial songs were grippingly introspective, the musings of a stranger in a strange land, and as simple melodically as they were complex rhythmically. Forever torn between the sacred and the profane — yet able to somehow reconcile the two on "Fixin 'to Die Blues" — he sang and played with wrenching intensity. But he was also a popular house party and fish fry performer who plied eminently danceable fare like "Shake ‘Em on Down" (cut while he was on the lam after being sentenced to Parchman Farm for shooting a man) and "Bukka's Jitterbug Blues."