Although the backwoods of Mississippi are only a few hours away, the
down-home Delta blues style has, for the most part, evaded the Crescent
City. But Little Freddie King, who spent his first 16 years in Mississippi,
arrived in New Orleans almost 45 years ago with his own conception of
how to approach playing music, and he’s been developing it ever since.
It’s the same sound that fired the work of Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed
and Freddie’s cousin, the great Lightnin’ Hopkins; thus there’s no trace
of the city’s classic R&B sound in the music of Little Freddie King.
This is blues, Mississippi-style.
Sing Sang Sung captures the spirit of one of those magical nights
when Little Freddie emerges from his daytime life as a professional
mechanic and takes his act to the stage, delighting the legion of New
Orleans blues scholars that always shows up for his gigs. Recorded "live"
at the Dream Palace, a funky little joint located just outside the French
Quarter, this soulful demonstration of the raw power of Little Freddie
King adds another chapter to the rich recorded legacy of New Orleans
The title cut, a tasty instrumental,
opens up the proceedings and sets the mood for a whiskey-soaked evening
of juke-joint blues. "Do She Ever Think of Me" spotlights
Little Freddie’s unique vocal moanings; there’s nothing pretty about
his voice, but it definitely hits hard. Little Freddie King deserves
a place at the same table with the artists associated with Fat Possum
Records; he’s right in there on that same raw groove.
As with most important contemporary blues recordings, what ensures
the success of Sing Sang Sung is the strength of its original
tunes. Songs like "Bucket of Blood," where King reminisces
over one of his old back-of-town haunts, or "Bad Chicken,"
a recreation of the clucking sounds Little Freddie remembers from his
childhood on the farm, give this offering its musical teeth. Little
Freddie is a natural — he rips it up on covers like the Freddie King
instrumental "Hideaway" and Lightnin’ Hopkins’ "Rocky
Mountain," but this is a performer with a voice of his own, and
that elevates this recording to a superior level.
— Bill Taylor