1. Goin' Down South
Rising like a ghost out of the north Mississippi cotton lands, the voice of R.L. Burnside is higher and thinner on these previously unreleased 1969 recordings than on his contemporary work. And his guitar's acoustic and sparer than the rhythmic juggernaut he commands today. Nonetheless, these 13 songs cut as close to the bone as his best Fat Possum CD, Too Bad Jim. They also capture Burnside just before he came into his own as an artist, flashing the influence of Lightnin' Hopkins, Fred McDowell and others like a hand of trump cards. Most important, the sparse field-style recording technique allows the poignance in Burnside's voice to thoroughly soak the lyrics of tunes like "Nine Days in Jail" and "MyBlack Name A-Ringin'," speaking volumes about life in the Jim Crow South in which these songs were put to tape. A mesmerizing, moving performance.
--Ted Drozdowski for Tower's Pulse (3/2000)
This previously unreleased 1969 recording captures a youthful R.L. Burnside in the process of honing his now well-established Mississippi blues style. The music here, like all of Burnside's catalog, is part of the juke joint tradition, in which steady riffing is embellished as it motors along. Unlike the tough, electric blues band sound of Burnside's later recordings, My Black Name... features Burnside alone with his acoustic guitar, occasionally backed by harmonica player Red Ramsey and second guitarist Jesse Vortis. The blues master's voice is soulful and warm, lending a quiet dignity to these spare songs, some of which Burnside still plays today. A must for any fan of raw blues, My Black Name A-Ringin' is a legend captured in the making.
-Tad Hendrickson for CMJ 12/99
This all-acoustic recording was made by R.L. Burnside when he was still a young man living the blues as a Mississippi sharecropper. With a full life behind him and a more remarkable one just ahead, R.L. traveled to Memphis to record the music he loved for the Adelphi film and sound crew, just after the cotton harvest of 1969. With occasional backing from friends Jesse Vortis on second guitar and Red Ramsey on harmonica, R.L. delivered a powerful acoustic performance, steeped in the folklore and traditions of his home and diverse in the styles he could masterfully interpret.
In one of lifes more just and satisfying twists, Burnside, now in his seventies, has emerged as a force in popular music, introducing a new audience to the blues. As Larry Hoffman points out in the liner notes, At the time of these recordings he could only have dreamed that the music that he had always loved would eventually become his life and professional world.
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