Blisterstring. Delmark DS-641 [LP]=Delmark
DE-641 [CD]. 1976
Jimmy Dawkins: g,v. Jimmy Johnson: g. Sylvester Boines: b.
Tyrone Centuray: d. Sonny Thompson: p.
- Feel so bad (7.30)
- Blue monday (4.33)
- Chitlins con carne (3.46)
- If you´re ready (4.58)
- Blues with a feeling (5.46)
- Ode to Billie Joe (4.32)
- Welfare line (7.47)
- She got the Blues too (only on CD) (6.55)
- Shuffling the blues (only on CD) (4.45)
- Peeple will talk (only on CD) (6.10)
- Sea of luv (only on CD) (3.42)
View the CD-cover at Rock´s
In 1976 Jimmy Dawkins returned to the Delmark label. The credits for this
must go to the albums producer Steve Tomashefsky. He even was ready to pay for
the sessions if Bob Koester didn´t like the recordings. The goal with the
recordings was to capture how the Jimmy Dawkins band sounded live at the time.
If you compare this album with the actual live recordings available from the
same time I can´t say the goal is achieved - luckily enough! The live
recordings are full of lengthy guitar solos over slow shuffles. Not too
inspiring... Blisterstring on the other hand showcases the whole band, not just
Jimmy´s guitar. Jimmy Johnson plays excellent rhythm guitar, Sonny
Thompson´s piano fits surprisingly well and Sylvester Boines and Tyrone
Centuray is a driving solid funky blues rhythm section. I think this is the
best band Jimmy Dawkins ever had.
This is a complex album. The first time I heard it, on the ugly yellow and gray
vinyl, I didn´t like it. The wahwah effects, the at first hand sloppy
backup and Jimmy´s hoarse voice - it all seemed as a big disappointment.
Today I think this is the most interesting and most exciting and actually the
best album Jimmy Dawkins ever made. Take a look at Blue Dog
News 9 for further discussion on Blisterstring.
- Feel so bad (7.34)
"I feel so bad - just like a ball game on a rainy day." I was never
shure if I understood the lyrics correctly. Ball game? Well, Otis Rush sounded
in deep anguish when he sang it in the sixtie´s and Jimmy Dawkins hooks
up on that mood here. Jimmy growls and moans and distorts this song into a
mesmerising experience. Jimmy Johnson uses a wahwah pedal and Jimmy Dawkins
guitar is ugly and contorted. He hits a note, kills it immediately, hits it
again and holds it forever. Very typical Dawkins guitar, I love those blistering
runs he plays in the last solo. This is not everybody's cup of tea, the song
is too long and too strange to be loved by everyone. Some of us though will
- Blue Monday (4.15)
"Blue Monday"! One of the coolest song Dawkins ever recorded. A
great tribute to the New Orleans sound. Listen especially to the credit Jimmy
gives to Smiley Lewis! Sonny Thompson´s piano is, of course, great here.
Okedoke from N.O!
- Chitlins con Carne (3.48)
Jimmy Dawkins guitar is razorsharp on the instrumentals. This is the first
one on the album and it´s a solid warm-up for what´s coming. The
song is faded out after 3.48 - a sign that nothing really happened in the
studio. See this as Jimmy Dawkins stretching his fingers and adjusting his
amp before he gets deep in the groove later on. But beware! A Jimmy Dawkins
in training mode still crushes almost every other guitar player.
- She got the blues too (6.55) (CD bonus track)
A slowblues with some nice guitar from Dawkins, especially in the last solo
where he plays his trademark tremolo notes. This song is bit too stylized
to fit my taste, I guess some might find this song to be the best on the album.
If this track had appeared on almost any other of Dawkins 70's album I had
ranked it very high.
- If you´re ready (5.05)
I copy what I said in Blue Dog News 9:
"I recently bought the CD reissue of Blisterstring (Delmark DE-641) and
I found myself listening to the same tune again and again. And it was a tune
which I never paid any attention to when I played the LP! "If you are
ready" is the tune. It´s not a straight blues. Dawkins and the tight
band churns a relentless soul/funk beat in a Chicago soul mode. Dawkins starts
the song with fat ugly chords and then the band lurks in. First a little bit
laid-back, but when Jimmy Johnson's perfect driving Chicago soul backup guitar
comes in the band really swings. Dawkins singing is hard, grunting and ugly,
almost as ugly as his guitar tone. Listen carefully to his solo guitar. Often
just a single note, a note which Dawkins hits hard and then holds. Incredibly
aggressive. Dawkins in the seventies have always made me nervous. His guitar
playing is irregular. First he seems totally uninterested, playing some random
notes and, suddenly. Wham! Rapid-fire licks and an almost insane attack. You
can never be sure of what Dawkins is going to do."
- Blues with a feeling (5.51)
I just say three keywords to describe this song: Fat chords (West Side touch),
Wahwah and tough singing. Straight blues.
- Ode to Billie Joe (4.32)
My favourite track! This country standard was very popular among the Chicago
blues bands in the 70´s, the Dawkins band turns it into a driving soulblues
funk workout. Jimmy plays his best and most aggressive guitar on the album
and the band rocks! This is as good as blues could get in the 70´s, using
soul/funk/rock elements and blending them into the blues without losing the
- Welfare Line (7.53)
An archetypical blues. Everything from the lyrics to the guitar fills makes
this song to a timeless piece of music. Note that is the same song as on "Hot
Wire 81", this take is more aggressive. The best (or worst) part of this
song is that Jimmy´s guitar never really gets loose. He starts a run,
chokes it, tries again and gives up and start singing again. As a listener
you get as frustratated as Jimmy!
- Shufflin´ the blues (4.45) (CD bonus track)
I thought the first CD bonus track, "She got the blues too", was
a bit too traditional, this the second bonus track gives me a thrill. The
song is a kind of soulfunk blues workout similar to "If you´re ready"
In the middle of the song there´s a nice break and then the groove continues.
I like this mix between a funk/soul beat and fat blues guitar!
- Peeple will talk (6.10) (CD bonus rack)
Again a slowblues. Though this is also kind of traditional, I somehow like
it better than "She got the blues too". Why I prefer this one I
can´t say! A quite typical Jimmy Dawkins slowblues, e.g. it doesn´t
get much better than this.
- Sea of love (3.42) (CD bonus track)
A bouncy shuffle! Sonny Thompson´s piano is in the forefront. Dawkins
song style in the 70´s doesn´t fit these kind of songs.