It's been one of those weekends again. My brain still thinks it's Sunday night and wants to carry on. My body disagrees and wants to move as little as possible and eat stuff. Which is why I've just wolfed down an enormous, and extremely fucking delicious pile of rigatoni with gorgonzola and walnuts, and am thinking of having some more. When I can move again. In the meantime, I'm doing the sensible thing, sitting here with a spliff as large as a very large thing, an even bigger gin & tonic, and Elmore James* blaring, which is exactly what my brain needs to calm the fuck down. I've been simultaneously tired and wired all fucking day, and the only music that's going to work right now is the Blues, preferably served up with huge amounts of bottleneck guitar.
You might have noticed I'm quite keen on a bit of slide, in a similar way to William Burroughs was occasionally partial to the odd dab of smack, and you'd be on the money. It's a lifelong obsession, and my favourite sound in music, bar none. I grew up in a house surrounded by fucking great music, especially Chicago Blues, my dad having a seriously fucking amazing record collection, and the stereo being on a lot more than the telly, I was absorbing the sounds of Elmore, Muddy, Wolf and the rest from before I could fucking walk**, and I can never remember a time when the sound of the bottleneck didn't make my spine jellify. Especially if it's electrified. I mean, I love Country Blues, and count Son House and Bukka White as two of the greatest fucking musicians I've ever heard, I play a National for fucks sake and listening to those two taught me more than anyone, but it doesn't rip my fucking heart in two the way Elmore's guitar does.
People talk a lot of shit about guitars wailing. You want to know what a crying guitar sounds like? Listen to Elmore James. No one plays bottleneck like he did, no one. The fact he had a raw blowtorch of a voice didn't hurt none either, and The Broomdusters were a shitkicking backing band (when he remembered to pay 'em anyway), but when that slide hits those strings and that beautiful, treble heavy crystal scream comes slashing out, fuck, nothing quite comes close. Listen to this. If you don't like Elmore James, you are officially deaf.
For further proof, check here.
*The Complete Chess, Chief & Fire Sessions, if you were wondering. You don't get better than that. You just can't. Although, and I know this will be interpreted as heresy by some, Homesick's version of Crossroads (see previous post) just smokes Elmore's. More on Homesick James soon, he was erratic as fuck, but when he was good, he was fucking amazing, and he had a deeply odd guitar sound. Possibly because he used to tune down to B quite a lot. Which is lower than most doom bands.
**Not an exaggeration. My earliest memory is hearing The Sky Is Crying whilst lying in my cot.