Slow blues, up-front guitar, crystal clear acoustics.
James P. Stamand | Asheville, NC | 10/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If the review title appeals to you, buy this CD especially for the great vocal/guitar combos as well as fine lyrics on: Dead Stray Dog, New Jersey Women, Riding on a Tall White Horse, Cold White Sheet. There is another issue on Labor Records which is a little cheaper. I grabbed this one when it was listed for $6.00."
Will the real Louisiana Red please stand up?
David W. Coble | Olympia, WA | 09/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't consider myself any sort Blues scholar but I'm pretty familiar with significant blues and jazz artists who've emerged since Robert Johnson struck his deal with Legba at the crossroads, or so I thought. I was recently pleased to come across an incredibly-talented cat I had heard mentioned but was not directly familiar with. Christened as Iverson Minter in 1932 and now known as Louisiana Red, this multi-faceted guitarist and singer has studied and played with Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and B.B. King to name a few folks you might have heard of, and has worked as a session musician with labels including Chess, Atlas, Checker, Tomato and others.
I searched the web to learn more about my exciting "new" discovery and I quickly learned why my knowledge was vague and confused regarding this talented musician--It turns out that there's another professional blues/gospel guitarist who's also played with some big-name artists. He goes by Louisiana "Guitar" Red, but his given name is Cordell Boyette. So two ENTIRELY DIFFERENT blues guitarists record using the name "Louisiana Red," though one uses the middle name "Guitar" so people don't get confused.
It turns out that listeners have gotten confused in spite of that. Both men have been around for many years but neither are exactly household names, they began as studio musicians rather than stage performers and for most of their careers both have worked backing up better-known artists. I don't even know if either are still alive, maybe their kids are now recording as Louisiana Red Jr.
During an hour of web searching I came across information on both, with photos of this Louisiana Red (Iverson Minter) over captions identifying him as Louisiana "Guitar" Red (Cordell Boyette)--I found this on a record company's website, and another on a blues critique website, accompanied by copy crediting one with some of the other's recordings. Many of their CD's don't have cover photos or significant liner notes, so the only way to tell which artist is which is to listen, and since samples are not available for many of their recordings this isn't always possible before making a purchase on Amazon.
SO, we have two men of mystery here...I'll confine my comments to plain old Tennessee Red (Iverson Minter), the one who doesn't have the middle name "Guitar." He's spent 50 years in the industry and in 1983 he received the W.C. Handy Award as Traditional Male Artist of the Year. His singing and pickin' are at once simple, subtle and sophisticated, his lyrics are articulate and witty, he's at home with a 12-string acoustic, uses a slide with great skill when he chooses to, and also gets in some fine electric licks (it sounds like a Telecaster but I ain't sure). He's a virtuoso but not a show-off; he doesn't shred the electric, he plays with an almost acoustic style and finger work (I'm sure that he doesn't use a pick in much of his playing). There's a Cajun influence, a Chicago influence and even a Mississippi quality in his work. I'm still just making his acquaintance and getting familiar with a small part of his music--the only disks I so far own are this one, "Live at Montreux" and his "Best of." The "Best of" covers his early career so none of the tunes are duplicated in later releases.
I've listened to all the available sample cuts of his CD's on Amazon (there aren't sample cuts for all his releases). His approach is fluid and he's not afraid to stretch the envelope--some of the recordings are backed with small orchestras and some are back-porch picking sessions. He's on par with dudes like Buddy Guy, Guitar Slim and some of his cajun stuff rates with technical whiz-kids like Tab Benoit. It doesn't get much better than that and I'm surprised that his reputation isn't better known. It's quite apparent that he has a cult following by people who know their blues, since some of his early releases are collectible and sell for more than $100. It's also pretty well established that mediocre musicians don't get invited to the Montreux Jazz Festival--Switzerland's a long way off and it's always surprised me that Europe embraces many U.S. blues artists who aren't necessarily well-known on their own side of the pond. Only a few blues artists appear there; the ones I'm aware of are Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert King, and that's all I can pull off the top of my head at the moment.
I'm just grateful that now I know about him--Red has a large body of work and I'm looking forward to exploring it and turning other people on to it (something that doesn't require much effort at all, I'm finding).
I strongly recommend Dead Stray Dog, Live at Montreux and the older "Best of" CD.
Just make sure you're listening to the right Louisiana Red. One of the curses of the Internet I'm seeing much more frequently is that someone somewhere posts incorrect information, other people pick it up and repeat it as fact, and completely bogus data thereby becomes accepted as truth. If something is repeated enough times people start to believe it, figuring half a dozen sources can't be wrong when it's actually a single source that was wrong from the get-go.
Heck, I don't care if I accidentally buy a CD by the other guy, he's good too and more's the better; I spent a couple of hours today listening to all of Amazon's sample cuts on about 20 CD's recorded by musician(s) named "Louisiana Red" and I'll be ordering at least four of them. Several don't seem to have a bad cut on them.
I'll dig around some more and find the complete discographies for both artists. I'm sure that some of you reading this are more up to speed than I am, please feel free to share."