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Move On Down The Line, Stealing, Ninety Nine Years And One Dark Day, Animal Fair, Sleeping In The Midnight Cold, Stackolee, John Henry, Railroad Worksong, Lining Up The Track, Hanging Round A Skin Game, Railroad Blues, San Francisco Bay Blues.

As you've discovered by reading our play lists, the staff at Red Lick are big fans of the marvellous Jesse Fuller - a one-of-a-kind-one-man-band who never disappointed with his pulsating versions of work songs, blues, prison ballads, traditional tunes and his own quirky compositions which were dominated by his resonant twelve string guitar and the inimitable foot-driven bass instrument he named the fotdella.

This CD is made up of the two ten inch LPs issued by Topic Records in the sixties. The first ‘Move On Down The Line' was recorded in London in 1966 and ‘Working On The Railroad' was a collection of his very first recordings made in California in 1954. Both of the LPs were widely loved by both music fans and musicians during the folk music explosion of the sixties and his songs were quickly appropriated by popular musicians of the day. The Grateful Dead recorded a version of Move On Down The Line, San Francisco Blues was sung regularly by Bob Dylan in his early days and You're No Good was the first track on Bob's debut album. The Spencer Davis Group almost captured Jesse's sound on their version of This Hammer - a segment from the Working On A Railroad amalgam presented here.

Apart from his own material, Jesse gleefully raided ‘traditional' archives, attacking songs like John Henry and Stackolee with his own powerfully boisterous arrangements. If anyone could make a song his own, it was Jesse Fuller. It was years before I realised that Stealin' wasn't his own composition but had been lifted from an old Memphis Jug Band 78 from the 1920's.

In The Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings, Chris Smith, reviewing another of Jesse's fabulous CDs, makes the observation that Jesse's music is ‘an infallible cure for low spirits' and that his music is ‘dangerously addictive'. I couldn't agree more and those words are true for this magnificent collection too.


Review Date: September 2009

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