Song: Boogie Chillen No. 2
Artist: CeDell Davis
CeDell Davis is the real thing; any other description would miss the point. A Delta bluesman with an impassioned commitment to hard blues singin’ and slidin’, Davis stands out for his unique playing technique as much as for the looping, wildly arcing sounds which emanate from his hands interacting with his vintage canary yellow Epiphone guitar. Marked by a long struggle with polio beginning in the ninth year of his life, Davis had already been into blues harmonica and guitar; post-recovery involved three years relearning the instrument. The result: Davis accommodating his hands, with their tightly restricted dexterity, to the guitar in a whole new way. His distinctive slide guitar tone is produced with a table knife that he “kinda swiped” from his mother’s silverware. It’s a signature sound serenely following Davis’ internal musical logic.
By the time his third album Feel Like Doing Something Wrong came out in 1994, Davis was sixty-even and largely confined to a wheelchair. If it first his guitar sounds curiously off-key, it soon dawns on the listener that it’s all part of a coherent and musically vital whole. This is stuff from the heart - nothing extraneous is permitted to sully Davis’ material. Crazy metallic harmonics and unvarnished blues testifying - who could ask for more? The album’s raw, uncluttered production is the work of Robert Palmer -to his credit, he recognizes Davis’ sound for what it is and doesn’t attempt to dress it up with irrelevant additions. Boogie Chillen is Davis at his fiercest and most triumphant.
And really, can you think of a cooler album title?