Picks and Pans Review: Texas Bluesman
For those of you who missed the LP-only release of this album in 1989, here's a jump blues beauty, further enhanced by two previously unreleased cuts.
Bollin, who died in 1990, was one of the least recorded but most authentic of the '40s and early '50s blues guitar aces. Aided by a smoke-and-honey baritone, Bollin played the blues in the big band style he honed while sitting in with some of the signature bands of the swing era, including those led by T-Bone Walker and Percy Mayfield.
On and off during that time, the peripatetic Bollin fronted his own band. Among his former sidemen is tenor saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman, who joins Bollin on Eddie Vinson's funky "Kidney Stew" and Gene Phillips's gregarious "Big Legs."
Two of the four—yep, just four—cuts Bollin released in the early '50s are included. Penned by Bollin and long sought after by vintage R&B collectors, "Why Don't You Eat Where You Slept Last Night?" and "Headlight Blues" are gems of the genre. Of the two tracks recorded for the '89 release, "Hey Little Girl" is the spunkier, and features a solo by Wayne Bennett, one of the current crop of Texas bluesmen. Fabulous Thunderbirds guitar heavy Duke Robillard pulls double duty as both producer and guitarist, contributing generous, spirited licks.
Bollin may be gone, but it's gratifying to have him as the featured player in what amounts to a mini Who's Who of Texas blues. And it's nothing short of poignant to learn that from 1964 until his rediscovery in 1987, Bollin had given up playing guitar, even for personal pleasure, and was running a dry-cleaning establishment in Dallas. (Antone's)
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