Byther Smith – Addressing The Nation with the Blues

by | May 24, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Byther Smith – Addressing The Nation with the Blues – JSP Records JSP5106 Hybrid Multichannel SACD ***:

Byther is a Mississippi native who lost both parents as a child, and
began his adult life working a cattle ranch and boxing. His aunt forced
him to quit fighting and he moved to Chicago where he pursued a musical
career. He didn’t have much luck getting gigs other than on the gospel
circuit, but in the early 60s this changed and he made a few
recordings. By the 70s, he worked with Junior Wells, and in the early
80s he put out his first LP. It didn’t meet with much success, but a
few years after followed another record where he finally got some
recognition. This disc (from 1989) hits straight at the heart of the
Chicago sound, while you can hear influences from people like Otis
Rush, B. B. King, and Elmore James. Track two is a punchy, throbbing
number that reminds me of some live, old John Mayall records. The music
on this disc isn’t that old, but in style it definitely has an older
blues feel—and that’s a good thing. Every track incorporates top-notch
licks and mates well to Smith’s vocal delivery. Track seven is a
toe-tapping tune with horn bopping away. The title track is somber and
troubling in its impact—it talks about the problems of the world and
difficulties people face due to lack of hope and distrust. The message
is as heavy as the music. After the first few songs I knew this disc
was a keeper and I’m sure you’ll agree.

The amount of surround used on this record creates a distinctive echo.
Vocals are rough and you have to concentrate to make out some of the
lyrics, but that is just Byther’s sound and doesn’t reflect on the
quality of the recording. The soundfield is huge and cymbals have an
amazingly natural metallic quality. Guitar is mixed into the surround
channels which comes off as sounding a bit strange. As a whole, sound
quality is excellent. Songs included are: What Have I Done; I’m Movin’
On; I Was Coming Home; What Is This; Looking For A Woman; Play The
Blues On The Moon; I Wish My Mother Was Here; Hello Mrs Brown;
Addressing The Nation With The Blues; You Should Be Proud Of Your
Daughter; Put Your Arms Around Me.

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