Rural Blues Robert Pete Williams

Ace Records
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Both artists on this CD are acoustic country blues singers from southern Louisiana, and their respective contributions were recorded in 1960. But despite their apparent similarity, Robert Pete Williams and Snooks Eaglin are two very different musicians.

Folklorist Harry Oster had discovered Williams in Angola Penitentiary, serving a life sentence for murder-.-Robert Pete's self-taught, modal guitar playing, and long, improvised blues about his life and feelings, often unrhymed and semi-spoken, at once marked him out as a unique blues artist.

It was thanks largely to Oster's efforts that when these recordings were made, Robert Pete was free on parole, although, as The Hay Cutting Song wittily notes, it was a harsh kind of freedom, working 80 hours a week for $75 a month. In his songs, Robert Pete unflinchingly confronts a world in which loneliness, death and approaching old age loom large, and transforms them into poetic lyrics and funky, dancing music.

Williams, born in 1914, is now dead, but happily Ford 'Blind Snooks' Eaglin is still with us, and still a master guitarist and entertainer. Snooks was only 24 in 1960-.-blind from infancy, he had always lived in a world of sound, developing his remarkable guitar talent, and picking up songs from records and the radio. Despite his youth, he had been working in R&B bands in his native New Orleans for some years when Oster found him, playing acoustic guitar outside a department store to make some extra money. Consequently, it was as a country blues singer that Oster recorded him.

The lovely, flamenco-tinged I'm A Country Boy is proof of Snooks' songwriting abilities, though most of the songs on this CD are cover versions. Snooks makes them his own, however, with his hoarse, wistful singing, and an orchestral guitar style that simultaneously supplies rhythm, harmony and melody.

by Chris Smith


Track listing


Side 1

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Two essential albums on one CD.

Blues & Rhythm

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