If you are new to the blues stomp and heartbreaking ballads of Duluth country blues raconteur Charlie Parr then this is as good a place to start as any. It's a 2011 era compilation of all his best bits to date taken from a series of albums on a multitude of labels. No-one does this kind of lowdown storytelling blues and folk better than Charlie Parr yet it was Seasick Steve who got famous. Another of a million reasons why the world is an unfair place.
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Ah fuck it - you can't argue with this. It's another album by Charlie Parr but this time a compilation of all his best bits in case you have struggled to keep up with his wandering career which has veered from label to label - sometimes with the same tracks coming out on different releases just to confuse you.
Annoyingly there are no liner notes so even with my self proclaimed 'pretty good' knowledge of the Minnesotan bluesman's back catalogue I can't remember which tracks are from which releases. I could do an internet search I suppose but as I said before - fuck it. Whichever way you look at it this is brilliant stuff. Whoever compiled this thing got 99% of it spot on. From the rolling country blues of '1922 Blues' to the melancholy 'To A Scrapyard Bus Stop' which would have the clientele of Parr's legendary Wednesday Night Bracer show at the Brewhouse, Duluth weeping into their pints of 'Summit'. Similar 'Just Like Today' showcases Parr's sensitive side with beautiful harmonies and gently plucking banjo.
The haunting equilibrium is disturbed by a track like 'Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down' which has always been my one gripe with Parr in that these blues stompers are perfectly acceptable blasted out in a sweaty club but on record veer a little to close to your 'authentic' S**sick S**** territory. Luckily this is kept to a minimum as either side we get some magnificent tracks and I am delighted to see the wonderful 'Midnight has Come and Gone' included. This John Fahey like piece originally appeared on 2008's high water mark 'Roustabout' and is a chilling, sprawling rural murder ballad of the very highest order. As a whole this compilation showcases Parr at his downbeat, snow ravaged best.
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