Review Summary: This is great album, although his singing and playing he is very rough compared to his studio work. A great listen for anyone that loves the blues or Son House.
Son House lead a troubled life, torn between the church and the blues. He was a baptist preacher at young age but left the church for the blues. He was became one of the best and played along side with other greats like Charlie Patton. He killed a man in self defense and did time on Parchman Farm from'29-29. He made his first recordings in 1930 and another 19 tracks in the early 40s. He faded into obscurity until the folk and blues revival in the 60s. He was rediscovered and recorded many classics until his death in 1974.
This album is a live recording from London in 1970. Though hes in an old age, his voice, delivery, and rough guitar style are just as strong as ever. Canned Heat's Alan Wilson backs him up on harmonica on a few tracks.
The first track is a short spoken monologue, the B-L-U-E-S, he talks about his veiws of te blues, and what the blues are. "You can sing the blues in church if you use the words right" shows he is still torn between God and his love for the blues. His speach is slurred abit, most likely due to years of alcohol abuse and he'd prolly drank abit before he played. This track is intersting to listen, but not a highpoint of the album by any means.
The first track of music, "Between Midnight and Day" starts with the Son Hosue furiously slidding up the neck of his National resonator. Alan Wilson plays harmonica on this track, which adds a nice touch. Son's singing on this song is powerful. He's to the point where he is practically screaming and you can really feel what he's talking about. "I woke up this morning, just between midnight and day/You know I was just huggin the pillow where she used to lay" uses a memorable line from Death Letter Blues but doesnt take away from the raw feeling in this song.
"I Want To Go Home On The Morning Train" is the first spiritual song on the album. Alan Wilson also plays harp on this track. Son's subtle slide melodys on this track compliments his singing very well. Although this song is little more laid back than his other, the power he puts into is obvious, It is short and simple like most spiritual songs and is one of my favorites. He also does a small monolgue at the end of this track aswell.
"Levee Camp Moan" is very similar in structure to "Between Midnight and Day". A typical song about trouble between a man and woman. Again, Son's delivery is unmatched. No harmonica on this track, which really simplifies the sound and lets you really notice the nuances of his playing.
The acapella spiritual "This Little Light of Mine" is a alot of fun. The whole place is clapping their hands, the song last only 1 minute and ends in a roar of cheers. A simple song that Son tears through.
Another monolgue "Thinkin Strong" talks more about realigious topics and other things. An audience member slips a joke in and makes Son laugh. A few humerous jokes and whatnot. Again, interesting but not a highpoint.
The shear fury that Son uses when he plays "Death Letter Blues" is astounding. This is considered by many to be Son's best song. Every line of this song is amazing. He sings and screams and hollers about his woman dying and recieving a letter about her death. Son bangs, pops, and hits the strings with unrivled rawness and feeling. This song is uterally amazing and definitly one of the highpoints. Tons of energy.
"How to Treat a Man" is a 16 minute tour de force of blues. Excellent guitar playing on this track. Another blues song about trouble between a man and woman. The length of this song makes it a tad monotnous, but still a strong part of the album/performance. Alot of great lines in this song awell, and Son's delivery is, as usual, nothing short of breath taking.
"Grinin In Your Face" and "John the Revelator" are two favorites of mine. Both are acapella spiritual songs and are full of energy. With everyone clapping and the audience singing along and cheering makes it alot of fun to listen to. Son's singing is unmatched, and these 2 songs really shows the power he has. Definitly a highpoint.