C.W. Stoneking: King Hokum (Inertia)

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C.W. Stoneking: King Hokum (Inertia)

Okay, this one had me stumped -- and increasingly impressed. The guy on the black'n'white cover sitting outside a clapboard shack is a round-faced thirty something white guy, but the guy singing on the album is quite obviously a sixtysomething black guy from somewhere in the Old South, maybe even recorded in the Thirties.

I could only think the cover was some kind of joke. Fact is that the "sixtysomething black guy" is the white guy on the cover, he is Stoneking from Footscray near Melbourne who plays banjo, dobro and guitar, and has a band which includes tuba, clarinet, trombone, sousaphone and double bass.

That's a pretty authentic line-up of instruments for his original songs which are located right at the heart of jazz-blues in the Twenties and Thirties. These immediately engaging songs have titles like Charley Bostocks Blues, Goin' The Country, Bad Luck Everywhere You Go, Handyman Blues and Rich Man Blues, all titles which could have come from 78s.

Stoneking isn't parodying or even ripping off this music, he's obviously a genuine aficionado who comes from within the genre with love and respect. He's also made a damn fine album of memorable songs, some a bit raunchy in that old heavy-innuendo style, which is at first bewildering.

You may start by asking, "Why?" but by the end you'll be saying "Wow".

Terrific stuff.

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