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Eddy Clearwater
 Boogie My Blues Away, Delmark Records CD DD-678 (40:08)

 Chuck Berry meets Muddy Waters

Perhaps the Windy City's most celebrated cultural contribution of the twentieth century will be the blues. Sonny Boy Williamson, Koko Taylor, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, and Muddy Waters are just a few who found success in Chicago. Blues lyrics historically described tough times and lost loves, but from Chicago came the addition of cars, guns, and other trappings of big city life. With an especially upbeat tempo, Eddy Clearwater's Boogie My Blues Away is a fine contribution to the Chicago blues tradition.

From the first cut, "Muddy Waters Goin' to Run Clear," it's evident that Eddy was out to show he's a unique bluesman all his own. He wrote all of the compositions and this first one is a clever pun. (Eddy's real name is Eddy Harrington, but drummer Jump Jackson dubbed him "Clear Waters" in a takeoff on his better known predecessor.) It's a slow blues number that is especially optimistic. "I believe, I believe this year is gonna be my good luck year/I got a feelin' deep down inside, muddy waters goin' to run clear." Most of the other cuts are just as optimistic and you get the impression Eddy was feeling especially good about his future in 1977.

Some considered Eddy a Chuck Berry imitator and it's easy to see why after listening to the title track "Boogie My Blues Away" as well as on his solos in "Real Fine Woman." But while Berry's influence is certainly there, this southpaw has guitar licks closer to Otis Rush, and he plainly distinguishes himself from any further comparison throughout the rest of the CD. All of the songs are up tempo and there's a spirited feel to Eddy's singing. He's backed by a competent band that never outperforms him. "Came Up The Hard Way" is a slow blues number with Mack Simmons' whining harmonica shadowing Eddy's scathing vocals. This is the strongest cut on the CD and one that Eddy recorded again a few years later.

According to the informative liner notes, Eddy was born in Macon, Mississippi on January 10, 1935. He moved to Chicago in 1950 after a brief stint in Birmingham, Alabama and began performing three years later. His uncle, who ran a tiny local record label called Atomic-H that specialized in gospel, handed Eddy his first shot on vinyl in 1958 with the rocking "Hillbilly Blues." Berry's influence was apparently very evident on this first recording. Other recordings noted are  The Chief from Rooster Blues in 1980 (Clearwater often dons Native American garb onstage), and  Help Yourself under the Blind Pig label, released in 1992. Originally recorded in a single day back in March 1977,  Boogie My Blues Away wasn't released domestically. The CD sounds somewhat dated today, with President Jimmy Carter referred to in both the first and last cuts. The final cut "Mayor Daley's Blues" is somewhat ironic given that the late Boss of Chicago's son is now the current mayor of Chicago. --  Mark Craemer

production notes & song titles

Eddy Clearwater, vocals, guitar; Mack Simmons, harmonica; Thomas Eckert, guitar; Bob Riedy, piano; Aron Burton, bass; Sam Lay, drums.

Produced by Ralph Bass, recorded on March 14, 1977.

Muddy Waters Goin' to Run Clear | Boogie My Blues Away | Came Up the Hard Way | Blues at Theresa's | I Don't Know Why | Tore Up All The Time | Real Fine Woman | Mayor Daley's Blues

Copyright © 1996 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.