Junior Kimbrough- You Better Run
When Junior Kimbrough died in January 1998, part of the spirit of Mississippi hill-country blues went with him.
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When Junior Kimbrough died in January 1998, part of the spirit of Mississippi hill-country blues went with him. He was a proud musician, aware of his African roots and his artistic singularity--perhaps the last unique voice in the genre. The sound of his bawling singing and unpredictable, serpentine guitar were as eerie as a warm wind humming through a field of tombstones, as hypnotic as the ancient village drum music it was based on, thanks to his complete command of his rhythm sections. This collection serves full notice of Kimbrough's authenticity, from his first recording, an impromptu-sounding "Release Me" played with rockabilly cult figure Charlie Feathers , through his last '90s albums for Fat Possum. It's in the latter cases that Kimbrough paints a colorful portrait of his hardscrabble life just above the Delta. Rape is wrongly equated with love (in the brutal-but-fascinating title track), and sexual prowess ("All Night Long") is the only true coin of manhood. Finally, "Done Got Old" serves as the best epitaph for this blues hell-raiser, whose decades of bootlegging, boozing, and womanizing seemed to catch up with him in his final years. Nonetheless, that song and the 11 others prove that no matter how tired and worn he became, Kimbrough's crackling music never lost its edge or its feeling of danger and menace. --Ted Drozdowski