Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
I doubt anyone of you are wondering if the name Blind Lemon Pledge appears on this artist’s birth certificate, but for those who may not know what name actually does, that would be James Byfield.
Averaging a very impressive year-and-a-half between releases, since 2008, “Goin’ Home” is the eighth for Blind Lemon Pledge. It’s a twelve song project that features two originals and ten of Pledge’s favorite songs covering blues, jazz and folk standards. Unlike his last release on which the multi-instrumentalist played all the instruments, here Pledge – on vocals and guitar – is joined by Peter Grenell on bass and vocals. If down home, from the heart and soul acoustic sounds float your musical boat, then sit back with your headphones on and enjoy your beautifully relaxing journey.
Reaching back some seventy years, Pledge opens with “I Feel Like Going Home” (McKinley Morganfield), one of several songs that were responsible for the early popularity of Muddy Waters back in the late forties. Had this been performed in a club, Pledge’s mastery over the slide guitar would have alone been worth the price of admission.
You can search the Internet and come up with all different answers as to what may be the most covered song of all time. However, if you were able to count every lounge act or bar band in that crowded field, my money says “Fever” has to be in the top five. The song was written by Eddie Coolie and John Davenport (whose real name was Otis Blackwell) and was originally recorded in 1956, on an album with the same title, by Little Willie John. Over my many years of hearing it, my favorite renditions were the sultry versions done by various female jazz singers. That said, staying true to the original, Pledge gives the song the justice it’s due.
One of the two originals is title “Sugar Rush” and it’s nothing like the kind you worry about your kids having. As a matter of fact, it’s the kind most adults enjoy having. In this case, the sugar refers to the treats you derive from your sugar.
Another of my personal favorites is a very well done version of one of my favorite songs – “Somebody Loan Me A Dime” (Fenton Robertson). Pledge not only nails it vocally but may have done one of the best solo acoustic blues leads I’ve ever heard. Killer track!
At barely over two minutes, while being the disc’s shortest track, this other original sacrifices absolutely nothing. Add another verse or two to this uptempo song about a cutie called “Sweet Celine”, let a pop country artist record it and you’ve got a hit.
Another noteworthy performance is Pledge’s masterful presentation of Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain”. Easily, some of the disc’s best pickin’ takes place right here.
Although “The Little Black Train” (Traditional) will certainly take you to church, it’s the next stop – which is indeed the last stop – you don’t want to be aboard for. Laying down their instruments, Pledge and Grenell team up for outstanding vocal harmony and timely hand claps on this a cappella style Gospel track. Excellent way of closing out an excellent recording.
Other tracks on “Goin’ Home” include: “Come Back Baby” (Walter Davis); “Crazy Mama” (J. J. Cale); “Big Road Blues” (Tommy Johnson); “It’s Too Late To Cry” (Lonnie Johnson); and “I Know You Rider” (Traditional).
With the Blues Blast Awards currently accepting submissions, should this one happen to make it into the hands of the nominators, I easily see a “Best Acoustic Recording” nomination in its future.
To find out more about Blind Lemon Pledge just go to
www.blindlemon-pledge.com and should you have not yet received your copy of “Goin’ Home” for airplay, just contact Betsie Brown at www.blindraccoon.com. Wherever you go and whomever you talk to, please tell them that the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient