Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Bricks in My Pillow
Genres: Blues, Pop
Something of a missing link between Delta and Chicago blues, Robert Nighthawk never garnered as much attention as his followers, who included Earl Hooker and Muddy Waters. That's a shame, partly rectified by this reissue f... more »
Something of a missing link between Delta and Chicago blues, Robert Nighthawk never garnered as much attention as his followers, who included Earl Hooker and Muddy Waters. That's a shame, partly rectified by this reissue from Delmark Records, though the guitarist's rambling way of life meant that his sessions were few and far between. That makes the material on this collection all the more precious; the tracks on Bricks in My Pillow include some of the best slide guitar ever recorded. Listen to Nighthawk's guitar wailing on "Crying Won't Help You" or" The Moon Is Rising" (two takes, one previously unissued, are included here), coupled with a rich, resonant voice that sounds equally at home on ballads and uptempo rockers. Though Nighthawk's name isn't often uttered in the same sentence as those of other blues greats, it indubitably should be. --Genevieve Williams
Great to have the United and States masters available again
C. Talcroft | Santa Rosa, CA | 06/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a flurry of recent releases a clearer picture of Night Hawk's artistry is emerging (he himself spelled his name as two words). This disc re-releases the recordings made by Night Hawk in 1951 for the United label and in 1952 for its subsidiary, States. It adds two takes that were not on the original LP release of 1977 (Pearl 11). Highlights include "The Moon is Rising" and "Maggie Campbell," which are interesting to hear in different versions here. With this disc, two recent Testament discs that include Night Hawk material ("Down Home Slide" and "Down Home Harp," both of which include performances that are a bit stilted--they were probably bootlegged from the May 1964 blues festival at Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago which had blues artists performing in an auditorium before a polite audience unused to the blues), and, most important, the new "And This Is Maxwell Street" 2CD set from P-Vine in Japan PCD 5527/28 (and let us hope soon on a U.S. label!), we begin to see that Night Hawk was a far more versatile guitarist than many probably have realized. On the "Bricks In My Pillow" release reviewed here, the pace is usually fast. The disc has a rather different feel from the lush but mournful playing we know from Chess recordings such as Anna Lee. Perhaps most interesting of all, however, is the extraordinary range of styles Night Hawk plays on the P-Vine "And This Is Maxwell Street" discs, but perhaps that should not be surprising given Night Hawk's remarks in the interview with Michael Bloomfield that was made in conjuction with the filming of Mike Shea's Maxwell Street documentary "And This is Free." There he mentions that he used to play swing, Spanish numbers, popular numbers.... The P-Vine discs release all of the recordings made for "And This Is Free." It is great to have the United and States masters available again here on this disc. Recommended. Just wish I knew who the drummer in the cover photo was! [Reviewer's update: I have confirmed that the drummer is Jimmy Lee Collins, the same drummer that appears in "And This is Free." "And This is Maxwell Street" was released on Rooster Records (US) and Katfish Records (UK) after this review was written.]"
Amazing sound, great songs. Why wasn't Nighthawk a star?
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 04/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well, I suppose to some he was. A star that is. But for some reason, Robert Lee McCullum (AKA "Nighthawk") never made it to the really big leagues. Sure, he didn't have Willie Dixon to supply him with catchy, instantly memorable songs like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf did, but he had the voice and the skill, and his recorded output is generally of very high quality.
Perhaps the main reason is that Nighthawk was a rambler who didn't care all that much about making records. Even so, United Records in Chicago did manage to record him on two occations (July 1951 and October 1952), and the cuts on this fine album were the results. Nighthawk plays some mean slide guitar and even a few single-string leads, and sounds very much like a man who could have given Muddy Waters a run for his money. Great band, too, including a really good piano player.
The sound is amazingly good - full, clear and rich. Highlights include the slow, ominous "Crying Won't Help You", the jazzy "The Moon Is Rising" and "You Missed A Good Man", and the gritty traditional "Bricks In My Pillow", but there are really no weak tracks on this album. Robert Nighthawk's brand of blues is somewhere in between Elmore James and early amplified Muddy Waters, and this CD, along with the fabulous "Live on Maxwell Street", would serve as a fine introduction to this underrated but influential and hugely talented bluesman.
4 1/2 stars. Highly recommended."
One of the few genuinely perfect records.
Docendo Discimus | 08/13/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Possibly the best example of electrified Delta blues ever to come out of Chicago. Every detail is perfect, from Nighthawk's liquid extrapolations on themes established by Tampa Red and others, to Jump Jackson's swinging hi-hat, to Ransom Knowling's astounding slapped upright bass. The songs, too, are every bit as good as the performances. Do yourself a favor and own this record."