Junior Kimbrough and the Soul Blues Boys
Do the Rump!
HMG/High Water 6503
Do The Rump! collects Junior Kimbrough's recordings for David Evans' High Water label, including a 45 recorded and released in 1982 and an unreleased session from 1988. Aficionados have dubbed Kimbrough's music "cottonpatch blues," a primitive country blues approach characterized by a steady, driving groove and a riff-driven, one-chord structure. It's a style of blues that has had its share of commercial and critical success through the decades, as exemplified by Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning," John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen" and much of Lightnin' Hopkins' work.

Kimbrough's blues, however, are far more unpolished than the music of the artists listed above, remaining true to the Northern Mississippi blues and string-band origins of the '20s and '30s. It's a music that Kimbrough has performed in the Holly Springs, Mississippi, area since the 1950s, at house parties, fish fries and picnics and later at local juke joints and festivals such as the Northeast Mississippi Blues and Gospel Folk Festival at Rust College in Holly Springs.

If that doesn't sound appealing to you, you may want to stay away from Do the Rump!, because this is raw, one-dimensional stuff. Ten of the songs have no chord changes at all, just a propulsive groove with Kimbrough's guitar and vocal call-and-response phrasing interwoven with bass and drum figures.

Ironically, the very primitive nature of Kimbrough's music that might make it unpalatable to many listeners is the primary reason it's worth hearing. Kimbrough is a modern-day practitioner of a long-past tradition, a link to prior generations and, as the liner notes assert, a link to African drum rhythms. The beauty of Kimbrough's work, if you're willing to hear it, is that it's hypnotic, unique, personal music derived from these traditions (and made for sharing, by the way, in the form of juke-joint dancing). But take note: Kimbrough speaks a musical language that you may not understand, so to enjoy it you have to learn his language, not wait for him to speak yours.

-- Bryan Powell

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.