Johnny Fuller, Blues Legend

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 10.24.11 in Reviews
An introduction to a genre-busting ’50s blues guitarist and singer

This is a reasonably good introduction to the genre-busting West Coast ’50s blues guitarist and singer. It combines most of his only album (a 1974 effort) with earlier tracks. And as his particularly mopey version of “Fool’s Paradise” from that ’74 album shows, he still had it, even late in the game. Indeed, Fuller is something of an enigma who enjoys (if that is the word) cult status in blues/roots circles. During his heyday, he rarely left the Bay Area except when he joined rock ‘n’ roll package tours behind his two biggest hits, “All Night Long” and the original “Haunted House,” neither of which appear here. But the latter, like this set’s “Train Train Blues” and “No More-No More” is best described as black rockabilly. And his bristling guitar and silky voice move easily among blues styles here — the Chicago arrangement of “Bad Luck Overtook Me,” the Charles Brown phrasing of “I Can’t Succeed,” the rolling Delta guitar of “First Stage of the Blues” — while still sounding like nothing but Johnny Fuller and West Coast blues.