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Author Topic: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2  (Read 6143 times)

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Online Johnm

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Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« on: September 18, 2005, 06:16:09 PM »
PROGRAM:? What Make Grandpa Love My Grandma So; Hoot Your Belly; See Here Woman; Have You Ever Seen Peaches; Jimmy Lee's Frolic; Rock On Away From Here; When You Hear Me Howling; Pretty Baby; Little Boy Blue; Step It Up And Go; I Got To Know; Whiskey Headed Woman; You Got My Money

I have my friend Phil Thorne to thank for bringing this CD to my attention and for loaning it to me at the EBA Blues Week this past August.? I was very favorably impressed by the several cuts I listened to then, and resolved to pick up the CD when I returned to the States.? I finally bought it about a week ago and really have not felt like listening to anything else since then.
Jimmy Lee Williams is (or perhaps was, the CD gives no indication as to whether he is still living) a farmer, residing in Porlan, Georgia, who was recorded by the blues researcher George Mitchell in 1977 and 1982.? On these recordings, Jimmy Lee, who was born in 1925, accompanies himself on solo electric guitar.? His music shows a bewildering variety of influences; you really can not peg him as falling into a particular sub-genre of blues based on his age, region, instrumental/vocal approach, or choice of material.? Rather, as you listen to him (particularly with repeated listening) you settle back into the sound of his strong vocals and solidly rhythmic accompaniments, whatever the character of the individual songs may be.?
The opening numbers on the CD are especially distinctive, and are the most individualistic-sounding portion of the program.? "What Makes Grandpa Love My Grandma So" is a striking slide tune in Vastapol that contrasts unaccompanied verse phrases with the re-entry of the guitar and a wordless voice playing a kind of signature lick response line.? It bears no resemblance to any of the slidework of such earlier Georgia musicians as Barbecue Bob, Charlie Lincoln, or Fred McMullen that I have heard.? The title cut, "Hoot Your Belly" [huh?], is a haunting, highly rhythmic song played in G, standard tuning, that I suspect is of Jimmy Lee's invention.? It has more of a play-party feel than a blues feel, actually.? "See Here Woman" is another bright slide number in Vastapol.? "Have You Ever Seen Peaches" is a show-stopper in Vastapol.? It opens with an Old-Time blues sort of enigmatic verse:
? ?Have you ever seen peaches grow on a sweet potato vine? (2)
? ?Well, wake up woman, get your legs off of mine
This song has a great, churning, train-like rhythm, and the way Jimmy Lee hums along with and against his slide solos is sensational.? I would rate this song and performance right up there with such Vastapol classics as Bukka White's "Panama Limited" and Robert Wilkins's? "That's No Way To Get Along".? It is that good.? On "Jimmy Lee's Frolic", an instrumental in Vastapol with a wordless vocal, Jimmy Lee pulls off the Sam Collins stunt of playing an out of tune guitar in tune with his slide.
Listening to the first five numbers in this program, I get the feeling that what Jimmy Lee is going for in his music dwells in the realm of pure sound.? He illustrates repeatedly how unnecessary metric consistency is for the solo player as long as the pulse and sense of phrasing are forcefully expressed.? He loves the sound of the VI note of the scale and on these tunes, he over and over again emphasizes it in his melodies, often singing it against his slide playing the III note of the scale.? Moreover, he appears to be particularly fond of wordless vocals, humming or chanting syllables, "huh, huh, huh" along with his accompaniment in a way that sounds as old as music itself.? The buzzy headtone he occasionally employs brings to mind that of Ishmon Bracey, though he lacks Bracey's scary intensity; Jimmy Lee's sound is prettier.? He also favors the major pentatonic scale, I-II-III-V-VI, over the blues pentatonic scale, I-flat III-IV-V-flat VII.? Maybe it is just my own affinity for that sound, but I find the over-all effect powerful and addictive.
The remainder of the program, while still very strong, is perhaps not quite as distinctive as the first five cuts.? "Rock On Away From Here" is a shuffle in E, standard tuning, that feels like it is going to be a one-chorder, but then catches you off-guard by going to the IV chord intermittently.? The Howling Wolf song, "When You Hear Me Howling" is done with a sort of Bo Diddley-ish groove and searing vocal.? "Pretty Baby" is another shuffle in E; I'm trying to figure out why solo shuffles are so much more interesting than ensemble ones.? "Little Boy Blue" is a one-chorder in E that bears some resemblance, lyrically, to the old folk song, "Old Dan Tucker".? "Step It Up And Go" really comes out of left field, and it is amazing, given that nothing on the program up to this point has sounded anything like this, how closely Jimmy Lee's rendition favors those of other East Coast musicians of his generation like John Jackson, John Dee Holman, and John Cephas.? "I Got To Know", "Whiskey Headed Woman", and "You Got My Money" are a trio of powerful E standard tunes that close out the CD.
I recommend this CD very strongly.? The singing and playing throughout are outstanding, and the first portion of the program is a unique musical statement.? I have heard very little in the way of solo country blues from the era when these sessions were done that I like as well as the music of Jimmy Lee Williams.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: September 18, 2005, 08:56:45 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2005, 11:24:59 AM »
I might be mistaken but from the track listing and descriptions given in the review these Mitchell recordings first appeared as a 1988 Dutch Swingmaster LP entitled Rock On Away From Here (LP 2115). I can't recall what Living Blues had to say about it but I didn't rush out to purchase it. :o

Offline Slack

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2005, 11:55:47 AM »
Hi Bunker,

I don't recall anyone giving you a WC welcome - so a belated welcome to you.

Cheers,
slack

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2005, 12:12:38 PM »
Hi Bunker,
I don't recall anyone giving you a WC welcome - so a belated welcome to you.
Cheers,
slack

Being shy and retiring I tend to stay "bunkered" and hence didn't stick my head above the parapet to announce myself in the time honoured fashion. That could be the reason for my not receiving the traditional "WC welcome". Thanks for the greeting.

Online Johnm

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2005, 04:25:41 PM »
Hi Bunker Hill,
It's certainly possible the material appeared earlier on Swingmaster.? I know that some early recordings of R.L. Burnside that George Mitchell did which have in recent years turned up on Fat Possum came out earlier on Swingmaster.? Considering when the stuff was recorded, it may well have been shopped around a bit.
All best,
Johnm

Edited to add:  Whoops, I believe I erred on the above information.  I think the early Burnside on Fat Possum that had appeared previously on Swingmaster was, in fact, recorded by Leo Bruin.  The early Burnside on Fat Possum that George Mitchell recorded appeared previously (at least in part) on Arhoolie.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2005, 06:27:29 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2005, 11:45:32 PM »
Hi Bunker Hill,
It's certainly possible the material appeared earlier on Swingmaster.? I know that some early recordings of R.L. Burnside that George Mitchell did which have in recent years turned up on Fat Possum came out earlier on Swingmaster.? Considering when the stuff was recorded, it may well have been shopped around a bit.
I couldn't be bothered to unearth my boxed-up set of Living Blues but the more accesible Juke Blues reviewed the Swingmaster release most favorably in their Spring 1989 issue. It is the same material and the FP would appear to be its first outing on CD.
I knew what you were alluding to regarding the Burnside - I srill have the two 1969 Arhoolie LPs of Mitchell material - the one with Burnside is shared with Joe Callicott and sheer magic.

Online Johnm

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2005, 05:07:28 PM »
Hi all,
I'm curious as to whether any of you out there have listened to this CD, and if so your impressions of it.  I have been enjoying it so much, I feel like it deserves much more recognition for the high caliber of Jimmy Lee Williams's music-making.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Slack

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2005, 06:05:11 PM »
Have not listened to the CD -- but have listened to the 2 sample tracks Fat Possum has on their site:

http://www.fatpossum.com/albums/1009.html

...and the good thing is that fatpossum makes the whole track available.

In any case Johnm, that is some Country sounding electric guitar!  What a nice combination of groove and distortion!  :D

...but the bad thing is that the fatpossum server apepars to be flakey inthat sometimes the links work and sometimes they do not -- I have yet to get to the order page to order the CD - but will keep trying.  This sounds like a really good find - glad someone in the UK was brave enough to order a CD titled "Hoot Your Belly".

Cheers,
Johnd

Online Johnm

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2005, 10:17:31 PM »
Hi John D.,
You are dead on about the sound of Jimmy Lee's electric guitar, it is pretty rasty sounding.  As I listened to him I found myself thinking, there are a lot of rich Rock musicians who are spending beaucoup $ to try and get that sound, and I bet Jimmy Lee's whole rig cost him less than $200.  He says in the notes to the CD his guitar cost him $75.00.  It sounds wonderful.
I know what you mean about the website.  For two days, I couldn't get on there at all, but it may have been because they were doing some site maintenance to honor R.L. Burnside's passing.
I hope you are able to order the CD soon.  It's a winner.
All best,
Johnm

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2008, 12:46:21 PM »
Hi all,
I bring up this recording because I have been listening to it for the last three days at every opportunity after having not listened to it for probably a year or more.  I would say my rating of the recording and Jimmy Lee Williams' music now is even higher than in the review with which I started this thread.  I really think there is something rare and wonderful happening on this CD.  What's more, I think many of the songs on the CD would lend themselves beautifully to ensemble treatments like the one posted recently in the Performance Corner by Frankie with Kim and samjessin.  Jimmy Lee's music is trancey in the best possible way.  "Hoot Your Belly" is a terrific CD.
All best,
Johnm

Offline rjtwangs

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2008, 10:28:18 AM »
My copy of this cd arrived a few days ago and I love it!! Thanks for the recommendation John.  The songs here have a kind of 'soulfull sweetness' that makes me think of Arthur Alexander. I love the tone and the sound of that guitar and amp. He does have his own sense of time and style. Very cool cd...

RJ


Online Johnm

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2008, 12:14:29 PM »
I'm glad to hear you are enjoying Jimmy Lee, Rich, especially since you may have been motivated to pick up the CD on the basis of my raves.  I agree his tone on the guitar is terrific.  He's just a winner all the way around.
All best,
Johnm

bighollowtwang

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2008, 02:55:54 PM »
I really dig that Jimmy Lee Williams CD. I love the way his slide on "What Makes Grandpa" sounds like female backup vocals.

If you like that one, check out the Johnny Farmer on the same label. Musically dissimilar, but reminiscent in mood. Solo electric with a seriously stinky tone.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2011, 07:15:16 AM »
Six years later, I finally got around to picking up this disc. Definitely shouldn't have waited so long.  ;) Jimmy Lee is great. His singing is wonderful and his guitar sound makes me want to plug in.

I had already heard a couple Jimmy Lee Williams tracks on the George Mitchell Collection, and JohnM taught one of those songs, Have You Ever Seen Peaches, at Port Townsend this year. That was so much fun I finally bought the record. One of those records that you listen to on repeat.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Jimmy Lee Williams--Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2011, 11:40:07 AM »
Good Lord, this is where I took my initial tentative steps on WeenieLand. JohnM's review prompted my purchase of CD.

It's playing in the computer as I type.......

 


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