This week’s Sunday morning album is an old blues classic, Blues From The Gutter by Champion Jack Dupree. Born and raised in New Orleans in the first-half of the 20th century, he was often considered to be the last of the great barrel-house pianists. He lived a tough life, orphaned at an early age and then growing up in a rough area of New Orleans he then spent much of his adult life struggling with addiction, a theme that is present throughout this album.
The album itself in it’s remastered format (as I own it) is in remarkably high quality. Many great blues records including those recorded up to the early 60s often suffered from hiss and scratching on the recordings even once remastered for later re-releases. Luckily the master tapes from these sessions must have been of a high-standard as the music is preserved beautifully, as it deserves to be.
Originally released in 1959 on Atlantic, the album consists of a majority of original tunes written by Dupree accompanied by two older folk tunes, namely ‘Frankie and Johnny’ and ‘Stack-o-Lee’. Each of the tracks on the album is a joy to listen to as Dupree’s moaning vocals with slight N’Orleans’ twang accompanied by his deft piano-playing and the rest of the band’s great back-up create a real sense of the old blues. Special mention at this point should be given to the line-up of the band; Pete Brown, Ennis Lowery, Wendell Marshall and Willie Jones. Each of whom fills their role wonderfully. Brown and Lowery with their tasteful solo playing and Marshall and Jones who provide a solid rhythm section that melts away into the background but is also unfailingly consistent at keeping the groove flowing.
The majority of the tracks on the album take the form of slow blues’ allowing Dupree and the soloists to languish in the laid-back atmosphere of the tracks. There are several exceptions to this however, for example the upbeat, faster-paced ‘Nasty Boogie’ that’ll get your toe tapping at the very least, as well as my personal favourite track of the album, the final ‘Stack-o-Lee’.
A great example of the older blues music preserved for generations to come and some great tunes to listen to as a bonus.