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The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band - Peyton on Patton
13 songs; 30:31 minutes; Meritable
Styles: Delta Blues; Country Blues
How do you think Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson would be received today in both recordings and live performances? Are Blues fans so band-oriented that even those two early solo artists would suffer in contemporary times?
Besides Keb’ Mo’ and Eric Bibb, how many solo artists are doing well? I raise those questions in association with the sixth and latest release from Reverend Josh Peyton, Peyton on Patton.
It’s a thirteen-track album dedicated exclusively to the legendary bluesman Charlie Patton. Charlie Patton is Peyton’s avowed Delta Blues hero and influenced artists from Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.
It features songs written and recorded by Charlie Patton during his brief recording career, which came to an end upon his premature death in 1934. As such, it is almost entirely a guitar/vocal outing. Staying as true to the original recordings as possible, Peyton recorded everything in mono in just one day using only one microphone and using his two band-mates sparingly.
I may get limited acceptance for this work into which the Reverend has poured his heart and soul. This would be a real shame!
Even the website for The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band warns, “The starkness of the record may come as a surprise to some of the band’s more casual fans who know them only from their high-octane live shows, particularly their Warped Tour performances where they shared bills with some of today’s top punk acts [popular with 19-29 year olds].” (The Big Damn Band is a trio!)
For example, Aaron “Cuz” Persinger, whose thundering drums are a mainstay Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band’s live shows, here plays in a starkly different manner, drumming with just his hands on a century-old tobacco barrel.
The notes state that Peyton carefully selected Patton's sides to find a good representation. He includes deep Blues and Gospel such as “Tom Rushen Blues,” “Jesus Is A Dying Bed Maker,” “Prayer of Death, Part 1” and “You’re Gonna Need Someone (When You Come to Die).”
Personally, the song I enjoyed most and found the most approachable was “Elder Greene Blues.” Here, Reverend Peyton’s wonderful, growling and thick vocals are complemented by disc highlight vocals from Washboard Breezy, his wife, who contributes washboard percussion on just a couple of tracks.
Another winner is “Mississippi Boweavil Blues” made all the better by the accomplished slide guitar for which Reverend Peyton is widely known among contemporary acoustic guitarists. For more killer slide, sample track 13, “Some of These Days I’ll Be Gone.” The CD also includes two other different versions of “... Days ...” (one with banjo) recorded in different keys and arrangements.
For most of the disc, Peyton tries to imitate Charley Patton’s unique and unorthodox vocal style. It will leave those unfamiliar with Patton’s music wondering why Peyton doesn’t sound like his usual self.
Those unfamiliar with both Patton and Peyton may think the latter’s singing to be weird and sometimes unintelligible. For example, “A Spoonful Blues,” performed in a quivery breakneck speed, is as odd as they come but, at least, it’s mercifully short at 1:36 minutes.
Clearly, Josh Peyton has done it his way trying to recreate the original Patton recordings. The result is best suited to a thoughtful approach by listeners and is not for the casual band-oriented fan.
If it makes people seek out reissues of the original Patton recordings, it will have the same benefit the Blues of the British Invasion had for me in the 1960s.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE.