Robert Lee Burnside

b. November 23rd, 1926 in Oxford (Mississippi)

d. September 1st, 2005 in Memphis (Tennessee)

MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUES vol.2

Arhoolie

HARD TIME MISSISSIPPI

Revival

FIRST RECORDINGS

Fat Possum

August 1967

Né à Oxford, il a passé presque toute sa vie dans cette région (entre Oxford et Holly Springs). Elevé par sa mère et ses grands parents, il joue de l'harmonica et de la guitare dès l'adolescence. Il suit l'enseignement du bluesman local "Mississippi" Fred Mac Dowell mais aussi de Ranie Burnette. Dans les années 40-50, Robert habite successivement à Chicago puis Memphis pour revenir finalement dans son Mississippi natal. Fixé dans le nord de l'état depuis 1959, il gagne sa vie comme métayer tout en jouant de sa guitare dans les juke-joints locaux ou lors de pique-niques. Quand l'ethnomusicologue et journaliste George Mitchell le découvre en aout 1967 (il fut conduit par Othar Turner), sa propre guitare est cassée. C'est donc sur la guitare de Mitchell qu'il enregistre ses premiers titres. Ces séances furent captées au domicile de R.L. Burnside à Coldwater. Son blues hypnotique et lancinant, authentique et terrien, plein de feeling est à son meilleur sur des morceaux comme "Just like a bird without a feather", "Goin' down south", "Little babe", "Rollin' and tumblin'", "Poor black Mattie", "Hobo blues", "Jumper on the line". Ces titres sont d'abord proposés par Arhoolie puis plus tard par Fat Possum.

Born in Oxford, he spent most of his life in this area (between Oxford and Holly Springs). Raised by his mother and grandparents, he plays harmonica and guitar as a teenager. He follows the teaching from local bluesmen "Mississippi" Fred Mac Dowell and Ranie Burnette. In the 40's and 50's, Robert lived successively in Chicago and Memphis to finally return to his native Mississippi. Settled in the north of the state since 1959, he earns his living as a sharecropper while playing his guitar in local juke-joints or at picnics. When the ethnomusicologist and journalist George Mitchell discovered him in august 1967 (Mitchell was led by Othar Turner), his own guitar was broken. So it's on Mitchell's guitar that he records his first titles. These sessions were captured at the home of R.L. Burnside at Coldwater. His hypnotic and haunting blues, authentic and earthy, full of feeling is at his best on tracks like "Just like a bird without a feather", "Goin' down south", "Little babe", "Rollin' and tumblin'", "Poor black Mattie", "Hobo blues", "Jumper on the line". These titles are first proposed by Arhoolie then later by Fat Possum.

MY BLACK NAME A RINGIN'

Genes

WORRIED BLUES

Fat Possum

October 1969

Ces bandes furent enregistrées par Gene Rosenthal pour Adelphi mais ne seront éditées qu'en 1999. R.L. Burnside est ici parfois accompagné par l'harmonica de Red Ramsay ou la seconde guitare de Jesse Lee Vortis. Il livre son blues hypnotique et rythmique, remarquablement terrien, avec la même inspiration que sur les faces captées par George Mitchell. Quelques pièces sublimes : "Nine days in jail", "Two trains runnin'", "My black name a ringin'", "See my jumper hangin on the line", "Tom Wilson's place".

These tapes were recorded by Gene Rosenthal for Adelphi but will only be released in 1999. R.L. Burnside is here sometimes accompanied by the harmonica of Red Ramsay or the second guitar of Jesse Lee Vortis. He delivers his hypnotic and rhythmic blues, remarkably earthy, with the same inspiration as on the sides captured by George Mitchell. Some sublime pieces : "Nine days in jail", "Two trains runnin'", "My black name a ringin'", "See my jumper hangin on the line", "Tom Wilson's place".

ROLLIN' AND TUMBLIN' : THE KING OF THE HILL COUNTRY BLUES

Wolf

July 1975 / 1989 / September 1991

Après avoir figuré à l'affiche du New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival en 1974 et avoir été filmé par Gustavo "Tav" Falco en 1974 dans son propre juke-joint, le Brotherhood Sportsmen's Lodge, R.L. Burnside continue d'enregistrer sporadiquement. Ce disque rassemble des bandes gravées lors de séances informelles par Hannes Folterbauer lors de différents voyages dans le nord du Mississippi en 1975, 1989 et 1991. R.L. Burnside chante son blues seul à la guitare (sauf sur un titre en compagnie de Calvin Jackson et de Daniel Burnside). On ne trouve pas tout à fait la même intensité que dans ses premiers enregistrements mais ce CD mérite toutefois une écoute attentive.

After appearing at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1974 and being filmed by Gustavo "Tav" Falco in 1974 in his own juke-joint, Brotherhood Sportsmen's Lodge, R.L. Burnside continues to record sporadically. This disc gathers tapes cut during informal sessions by Hannes Folterbauer during various travels in the north of Mississippi in 1975, 1989 and 1991. R.L. Burnside sings his blues alone on guitar (except on a title with Calvin Jackson and Daniel Burnside). We do not find quite the same intensity as in his first recordings but this CD deserves careful listening.

ALAN LOMAX BLUES SONGBOOK

Rounder

September 1978

RAW ELECTRIC

Inside Sounds

Music Avenue

August 1979 / February - August 1980

Séances informelles (et même improvisées) captées dans le salon de R.L. Burnside par David Evans. Il est accompagné de ses proches et enfants (Joseph & Daniel Burnside, Robert Avant et Calvin Jackson remarquable à la batterie). Feeling brut et terrien au plus près du blues, spontanéité totale, parfois chaotique, la musique reste constamment excitante comme sur "You don't love me", "Pretty woman", "Last night", "Rolling and tumbling", "Well well well", "Sitting on top of the world". D'abord édité sur la petite marque Inside Sounds, "Raw electric" est repris par Music Avenue.

Informal (and even improvised) sessions captured in the living room of R.L. Burnside by David Evans. He is accompanied by his relations and children (Joseph & Daniel Burnside, Robert Avant and Calvin Jackson remarkable on drums). Raw and down-home feeling to the nearest of the blues, total spontaneity, sometimes chaotic, the music is constantly exciting as on "You don't love me", "Pretty woman", "Last night", "Rolling and tumbling", "Well well well", "Sitting on top of the world". First issued on the small imprint Inside Sounds, "Raw electric" is taken over by Music Avenue.

SOUND MACHINE GROOVE

Vogue

HMG

October 1979 / July 1980

Capté à la même époque que "Raw electric" et possédant des qualités intrinsèques identiques, on retrouve dans ce superbe disque le blues électrique puissant et terriblement terrien de Burnside. Le son est rugueux et vigoureux - parfois funky - véhiculant un feeling considérable. Robert est accompagné de Joseph & Daniel Burnside et de son beau-frère Calvin Jackson. Ces titres furent enregistrées par David Evans au domicile de Burnside. Gérard Herzhaft ramena le matériel en France et le confia à André Clergeat qui accepta de le publier chez Vogue. "Shake little baby", "Sound machine groove", "Can't let you go", "Jumper hanging out on the line", "Pretty woman", "Searching for my baby" et surtout le superbe "Bad luck city" sont des sommets que tout amateur de blues devrait connaitre.

Captured at the same time as "Raw electric" and possessing identical intrinsic qualities, we find in this superb record Burnside's powerful and terribly down-home electric blues. The sound is rough and vigorous - sometimes funky - conveying a considerable feeling. Robert is accompanied by Joseph & Daniel Burnside and his brother-in-law Calvin Jackson. These titles were recorded by David Evans at Burnside's home. Gérard Herzhaft brought the material back to France and entrusted it to André Clergeat, who agreed to publish it at Vogue. "Shake little baby", "Sound machine groove", "Can't let you go", "Jumper hanging out on the line", "Pretty woman", "Searching for my baby" and especially the beautiful "Bad luck city" are gems that any blues fan should know.

R.L. BURNSIDE PLAYS AND SINGS THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUES

Swingmaster

MISSISSIPPI HILL COUNTRY BLUES

Swingmaster

Fat Possum

March 1980

HILL COUNTRY BLUES

Swingmaster

MISSISSIPPI HILL COUNTRY BLUES

Swingmaster

Fat Possum

October 1982 / November 1984

En configuration acoustique - il est seul à la guitare - R.L. Burnside grave un bel opus pour le label hollandais Swingmaster de Leo Bruin. Un peu moins intense qu'en formation électrique, il donne tout de même une remarquable tranche de blues terrien (qui évoque John Lee Hooker par moments). Il faut aussi rappeler que Robert est un superbe chanteur à la voix expressive. Ce LP Swingmaster est entièrement repris dans la réédition CD.

In acoustic configuration - he's alone on guitar - R.L. Burnside cut a great opus for Leo Bruin's Dutch label Swingmaster. A little less intense than in an electrical set-up, he still gives a remarkable slice of earthy blues (which evokes John Lee Hooker at times). It must also be remembered that Robert is a superb singer with an expressive voice. This Swingmaster LP is fully included in the CD reissue.

LONG DISTANCE CALL : EUROPE 1982

Fat Possum

1982

MISSISSIPPI BLUES

Arion

May 1983

Ce microsillon fut gravé en France lors d'une tournée en Europe. Seul à la guitare, il délivre un programme agréable mais moins prenant que ses précédents enregistrements.

This LP was recorded in France during a tour in Europe. Alone on guitar, he delivers a nice program but less addictive than his previous recordings.

GOING DOWN SOUTH

Swingmaster

February 1986

Dans cet excellent CD Swingmaster, on trouve une belle séance de R.L. Burnside seul à la guitare (impeccablement accompagné sur deux titres par l'harmoniciste Curtis Salgado). On peut retenir surtout une magnifique version de "Going away blues".

In this excellent Swingmaster CD, we find a beautiful session of R.L. Burnside alone on guitar (flawlessly accompanied on two tracks by harmonica player Curtis Salgado). We can especially point out a wonderful version of "Going away blues".

WELL WELL WELL

M.C.

May 1986 - April 1993

Disque inégal - un peu fourre-tout - rassemblant des titres en concert ou enregistrés dans un contexte informel, en Europe ou aux Etats-Unis. Le programme se révèle plutôt intéressant même s'il manque un peu d'unité. A conseiller plutôt aux fans confirmés de R.L. Burnside. On apprécie de bons moments comme "Goin' down south" et "Stagolee". Ces séances gravées par John Morris Nerenberg furent produites par Lou Erlanger.

Uneven record - a little catchall - gathering titles in concert or recorded in an informal context, in Europe or in United States. The program is rather interesting even if it lacks a bit of unity. To advise to R. L. Burnside's confirmed fans. We like good moments like "Goin' down south" and "Stagolee". These sessions captured by John Morris Nerenberg were produced by Lou Erlanger.

SKINNY WOMAN

Lollipop (only on cassette)

ACOUSTIC STORIES

M.C.

P-Vine

February 1988

Séance produite par Lou Erlanger avec R.L. Burnside à la guitare acoustique et John Nerenberg, peu imaginatif à l'harmonica. Globalement ennuyeuse, celle-ci ne parvient pas à intéresser l'auditeur. On note qu'elle fit l'objet d'une édition sous forme de cassette avant d'être reprise en CD par M.C. Records.

Session produced by Lou Erlanger with R.L. Burnside on acoustic guitar and John Nerenberg, unimaginative on harmonica. Generally boring, this one does not manage to interest the listener. It is noted that it was published in cassette form before being reissued in CD by M.C. Records.

DEEP BLUES

Atlantic

October 1990

Ce disque est la bande son du film documentaire réalisé par Robert Mugge, produit par Dave Stewart et écrit par Robert Palmer. R.L. Burnside joue deux superbes morceaux : "Jumper on the line" et "Long haired Doney".

This disc is the soundtrack of the documentary film directed by Robert Mugge, produced by Dave Stewart and written by Robert Palmer. R.L. Burnside plays two great songs : "Jumper on the line" and "Long haired Doney".

BAD LUCK CITY

Fat Possum

1991

Enregistré live au club Syd's d'Oxford, on retrouve R.L. Burnside avec son groupe familial composé de Duwayne (guitare, basse), Joseph (basse) et Calvin Jackson (batterie). On apprécie son blues rugueux et âpre au rythme hypnotique comme sur "Bad luck city" ou le medley "Long haired Doney / Poor boy long way from home", "My eyes keep me in trouble". Un bon document sur une soirée dans un juke-joint du nord du Mississippi.

Recorded live at Syd's club in Oxford, R.L. Burnside is joined by his family group composed of Duwayne (guitar, bass), Joseph (bass) and Calvin Jackson (drums). We appreciate his rough blues with hypnotic rhythm as on "Bad luck city" or the medley "Long haired Doney / Poor boy long way from home", "My eyes keep me in trouble". A good document about an evening in a juke-joint of North Mississippi.

ALL-STAR BLUES SESSIONS

HMG

November 1992

Dans "Goin' down south", Robert trouve un superbe accompagnateur en la personne de l'harmoniciste-producteur Bob Corritore (avec aussi Bruce Lopez et Chico Chism).

In "Goin' down south", Robert finds a superb accompanist in the person of harmonica player Bob Corritore (also with Bruce Lopez and Chico Chism).

FROM MISSISSIPPI TO CHICAGO

HMG

Early 90's

TOO BAD JIM

Fat Possum

April 1993

Toujours supporté par sa famille (Kenny Brown, Duwayne Burnside, Calvin Jackson), Robert délivre encore une belle tranche de blues rugueux. Quelques excellentes pistes comme "Fireman ring the bell", "Peaches", "Miss Glory B", "44 pistol", "Goin' down south".

Always supported by his family (Kenny Brown, Duwayne Burnside, Calvin Jackson), Robert still delivers a beautiful slice of rough blues. Some great tracks like "Fireman ring the bell", "Peaches", "Miss Glory B", "44 pistol", "Goin' down south".

NOTE THE SAME OLD BLUES CRAP

Fat Possum

March 1994

Dans ce sampler édité par Fat Possum, on trouve un titre inédit de R.L. Burnside : "Come on in" capté en concert au Rhythm Room de Phoenix.

In this sampler issued by Fat Possum, we find a new title of R.L. Burnside : "Come on in" recorded in concert at Rhythm Room in Phoenix.

NOTE THE SAME OLD BLUES CRAP vol.2

Fat Possum

March 1994

Dans ce second sampler, il y a aussi un titre inédit - "Walkin' blues" - pris lors du même concert à Phoenix.

In this second sampler, there is also an unissued title - "Walkin' blues" - taken at the same concert in Phoenix.

RHYTHM ROOM BLUES

Hightone

March 1994

Quatre morceaux de R.L. Burnside issus du même concert de mars 1994 dans le club de Bob Corritore.

Four tracks by R. L. Burnside from the same march 1994 concert in Bob Corritore's club.

NO MONKEYS ON THIS TRAIN

Hightone

March 1994

MR WIZARD

Fat Possum

September 1994 - November 1996

Après le succès de "A ass pocket of whiskey" (paru avant "Mr Wizard"), le label Fat Possum sort ce "Mr Wizard" avec différents titres inédits enregistrés entre 1994 et 1996. Un programme hétéroclite qui semble avoir été assemblé par Matthew Johnson à la va-vite. Les pistes où Burnside est seul ou en famille sont correctes mais peu originales, les morceaux avec Jon Spencer s'avèrent bruyants et sans feeling.

After the success of "A ass pocket of whiskey" (released before "Mr Wizard"), the label Fat Possum released this "Mr Wizard" with various unreleased tracks recorded between 1994 and 1996. A ragbag program that seems to have been assembled by Matthew Johnson in a hurry. The tracks where Burnside is alone or with the family are decent but not very original, the songs with Jon Spencer turn noisy and without feeling.

A ASS POCKET OF WHISKEY

Matador

Fat Possum

February 1996

Rencontre du bluesmen R.L. Burnside avec le groupe d'Indie-Rock Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Jon Spencer découvrit Burnside grâce au film documentaire "Deep blues") sous la houlette du label Fat Possum. Encensé par les uns, détesté par les autres, cet album est gravé en un après-midi à Holly Springs. Le mélange entre Hill Country Blues, le rock saturé et différents hurlements n'est pas toujours du meilleur goût (comme sur l'insupportable dernier morceau "Have you ever been lonely") mais globalement l'album apporte quelque chose de nouveau ou de différent à la musique de R.L. Burnside. Rejeté par les puristes mais encensé par d'autres, ce disque ne laisse pas indifférent et son succès permit à R.L. Burnside de conquérir un nouveau public.

Meeting between bluesman R.L. Burnside with Indie-Rock band Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Jon Spencer discovered Burnside thanks to documentary film "Deep blues") under the supervision of Fat Possum label. Incensed by some, hated by others, this album is recorded in one afternoon in Holly Springs. The mix between Hill Country Blues, saturated rock and different screams is not always of the best taste (like on the unbearable last track "Have you ever been lonely") but globally the album brings something new or different to the music of R.L. Burnside. Rejected by purists but praised by others, this album does not leave indifferent and its success allowed R.L. Burnside to conquer a new audience.

ROLLIN' TUMBLIN' (EP)

Bong Load

1997

COME ON IN

Fat Possum

1998

Cette fois, R.L. Burnside est associé au producteur Tom Rothrock et son style Dub/Electro. Son blues est ici mélangé à des arrangements souvent déconcertants. Cette tentative musicale semble franchement peu convaincante tant le style Burnside apparait dilué et lointain. Bien peu inspiré de manière générale.

This time, R.L. Burnside is associated with producer Tom Rothrock and his Dub / Electro style. His blues here is mixed with often disconcerting arrangements. This musical attempt seems frankly unconvincing as the Burnside style appears diluted and distant here. Not very inspired in general.

LET MY BABY RIDE (EP)

Fat Possum

1998

TANGLE UP IN BLUES : SONGS OF BOB DYLAN

House of Blues

1999

Dans ce disque consacré à des reprises de Bob Dylan, Burnside - uniquement chanteur - reprend "Everything is broken" accompagné par les overdubs de James Cotton et Buddy Guy.

In this album devoted to Bob Dylan covers, Burnside - only singer - covers "Everything is broken" accompanied by James Cotton and Buddy Guy overdubs.

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SOUNDS OF NEW ORLEANS vol.10 : LISTEN UP

Friends of WWOZ

1990's

WISH I WAS IN HEAVEN SITTING DOWN

Fat Possum

2000

Après quelques problèmes médicaux (infection de l'oreille) en 1999, R.L. Burnside est un peu diminué. Par conséquent, il laisse la plupart des parties de guitare à d'autres musiciens sur ce disque. Il se concentre sur le chant et se montre à la hauteur de la tâche. L'album est produit par un bataillon de producteurs dont John Porter et Andy Kaulkin. Pour l'accompagner, les producteurs ont réuni Smokey Hormel, Rick Holmstrom, Johnny Dyer, Steve Mugalian, Jeff Turmes ainsi que quelques DJs pour le scratching. On retient le beau "Wish I was in heaven sitting down" avec Kenny Brown à la guitare et l'introspectif "R.L.'s story". Par contre, on oublie la reprise calamiteuse de "Chain of fools".

After some medical problems (ear infection) in 1999, R.L. Burnside is a little diminished. As a result, he leaves most guitar parts to other musicians on this disc. He focuses on singing and is up to the task. The album is produced by a battalion of producers including John Porter and Andy Kaulkin. To accompany him, the producers brought together Smokey Hormel, Rick Holmstrom, Johnny Dyer, Steve Mugalian, Jeff Turmes as well as some DJs for scratching. We can point out the beautiful "Wish I was in heaven sitting down" with Kenny Brown on guitar and the introspective "R.L.'s story". On the other hand, we forget the calamitous recovery of "Chain of fools".

BURNSIDE ON BURNSIDE

Fat Possum

January 2001

Après quelques albums expérimentaux médiocres mais qui l'ont fait connaitre à un plus large public, cet album marque le retour de R.L. Burnside à son blues brut quotidien avec les excellents Kenny Brown (slide guitare) et son petit-fils Cedric Burnside (batterie). Gravé à Portland et San Francisco durant l'hiver 2001 pendant une tournée sur la côte ouest. Superbe album live direct et puissant avec les formidables "Rollin' and tumblin'", "Skinny woman", "Bad luck and trouble", "Jumper on the line", "Snake drive".

After some mediocre experimental albums that have made him known to a wider audience, this album marks the return of R.L. Burnside to his daily raw blues with the excellent Kenny Brown (slide guitar) and his grandson Cedric Burnside (drums). Recorded in Portland and San Francisco during the winter of 2001 during a West Coast tour. Superb direct and powerful live album with the amazing "Rollin' and tumblin'", "Skinny woman", "Bad luck and trouble", "Jumper on the line", "Snake drive".

A BOTHERED MIND

Fat Possum

2004

Ce disque assemble le blues de R.L. Burnside avec les arrangements Electro de Martin Tino Gross et les collaborations avec les rappeurs Kid Rock et Lyrics Born. Un album hétéroclite où la musique du bluesman semble trop trafiquée pour émerger vraiment. De plus, la maquette de ce disque est laide et les photos vulgaires. Après une première crise cardiaque en 2001, R.L. Burnside est forcé de ralentir son activité de musicien. Une autre crise cardiaque survient en novembre 2002 et le diminue encore. Il fait sa dernière apparition publique lors du Bonnaroo Music Festival en juin 2004.

This album assembles R.L. Burnside's blues with Martin Tino Gross's Electro arrangements and collaborations with rappers Kid Rock and Lyrics Born. A ragbag album where the music of the bluesman seems too much trafficked to really emerge. In addition, the paste-up of this record is ugly and pictures are vulgar. After a first heart attack in 2001, R.L. Burnside was forced to slow down his music activity. Another heart attack occurs in november 2002 and further diminishes him. He made his last public appearance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in june 2004.