Barrelhouse Buck McFarland Alton Blues
Living Blues: "McFarland's piano style here is sparse and precise -- it strips boogie and blues down to their bare essentials..."
- Released: February 20, 2007
- Originally Released: 2007
- Label: Delmark
Dirty Linen - p.75"McFarland's aggressive, rough-hewn playing and moaning style of singing were remarkably intact."
Living Blues - p.54"McFarland's piano style here is sparse and precise -- it strips boogie and blues down to their bare essentials..."
No Depression - p.88"At his best, as on 'Alton Blues', 'Charlie's Stomp', and 'Barrelhouse Buck', McFarland builds up a tremendous head of steam, paving the way for boogie-woogie, Otis Spann, Jerry Lee and other good stuff.'
- 1.Four O'Clock Blues
- 2.Alton Blues - (take 2)
- 3.Lamp Post Blues - (take 2)
- 4.Charlie's Stomp
- 5.Railroad Blues
- 6.Dupree Blues
- 7.I Got To Go Blues - (take 2)
- 8.Barrelhouse Buck
- 9.Mercy Mercy Buck
- 10.Don't Stop Now
- 11.Buck's Blues
- 13.Lamp Post Blues - (take 1)
- 14.Alton Blues - (take 1)
- 16.I Got To Go Blues - (take 1)
- 17.Goodbye Blues
Composer: Barrelhouse Buck McFarland.
Personnel: Barrelhouse Buck McFarland (vocals, piano); Barrelhouse Buck McFarland.
Liner Note Author: Kevin Belford.
Recording information: Creve Coeur, MO (08/06/1961).
Photographer: Charlie O' Brien.
Whether it is an acoustic guitar playing Mississippi Delta country-blues or an electric guitar playing amplified Chicago blues, the guitar has long been considered the quintessential blues instrument. But there is also a lot to be said for the acoustic piano, which has been the instrument of choice for everyone from Champion Jack Dupree to Memphis Slim to a long list of great boogie-woogie players of the 1930s and '40s. And it is an instrument that Barrelhouse Buck McFarland clearly uses to his creative advantage on Alton Blues, which was recorded in August 1961 only eight months before the singer/pianist's death. There are no drums, bass or guitar to be found on these rare performances; McFarland is unaccompanied on all of the tracks, and the solo format serves him well on vocal numbers as well as some instrumentals. It should be noted that 1961 marked McFarland's return to recording after many years; he had done some recording in the late '20s and early to mid-'30s, but he wasn't recorded at all in the '40s or '50s. Not that Alton Blues sounds like the work of someone who had evolved radically over the years; these solid performances demonstrate that in 1961, McFarland had clearly remained faithful to the classic barrelhouse piano style of the '20s and '30s. The blues piano that McFarland plays on this 48-minute CD is not a reserved, understated type of blues; his playing is gutsy, extroverted, tough and emotionally direct (in other words, all of the things that barrelhouse playing was known for being). McFarland was far from a major name in the blues world, but Alton Blues is a fine place to get acquainted with his no-nonsense piano blues. ~ Alex Henderson
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