R.L. BURNSIDE (Robert Lee)

R.I.P.  November 23, 1926 / September 1, 2005



North Mississippi guitarist R.L. Burnside

was one of the paragons of state-of-the-art Delta juke joint blues.

 

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside 01

 

The guitarist, singer and songwriter was born November 23, 1926 in Oxford, MS, and made his home in Holly Springs, in the hill country above the Delta. He lived most of his life in the Mississippi hill country, which, unlike the Delta region, consists mainly of a lot of small farms. He learned his music from his neighbor, Fred McDowell, and the highly rhythmic style that Burnside plays is evident in McDowell’s recording as well. Despite the otherworldly country-blues sounds put down by Burnside and his family band, known as the Sound Machine, his other influences are surprisingly contemporary: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins. But Burnside’s music is pure country Delta juke joint blues, heavily rhythm-oriented and played with a slide.

 

It wasn’t until the 1990’s that he began hitting full stride with tours and his music, thanks largely to the efforts of Fat Possum Records. The label has issued recordings made by a group of Burnside’s peers, including Junior Kimbrough, Dave Thompson and others.

 

Up until the mid-’80s, Burnside was primarily a farmer and fisherman. After getting some attention in the late ’60s via folklorists George Mitchell (Mitchell recorded him for the Arhoolie label), he recorded for the Vogue, Swingmaster and Highwater record labels. Although he had done short tours, it wasn’t until the late ’80s that he was invited to perform at several European blues festivals. In 1992, he was featured alongside his friend Junior Kimbrough (whose Holly Spings juke joint Burnside lives next to), in the documentary film, Deep Blues.

 

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough

 

His debut recording, Bad Luck City (1992), was released that same year on Fat Possum Records. Burnside has a second record out on the Oxford-based Fat Possum label, Too Bad Jim (1994).These recordings showcase the raw, barebones electric guitar stylings of Burnside, and on both recordings he’s accompanied by a small band, which includes his son Dwayne on bass and son-in-law Calvin Jackson on drums, as well as guitarist Kenny Brown.

 

the Funky Soul story - Fat Possum Records

 

Both recordings also adequately capture the feeling of what it must be like to be in Junior Kimbrough’s juke joint, where both men played this kind of raw, unadulterated blues for over 30 years. This is the kind of downhome, backporch blues played today as it has been for many decades. In 1996, Burnside teamed with indie-rocker Jon Spencer to cut A Ass Pocket O’ Whiskey for the hip Matador label; he returned to Fat Possum in 1998 for the more conventional Come on In.

 

As Burnside had been recording intermittently since the late ’60s a spate of re-issues and live recordings began to appear in the 2000’s. Chief among them were Mississippi Hill Country Blues, largely recorded in the Netherlands in the 1980s; First Recordings, which gathered 14 of George Mitchell’s 1967 field recordings of Burnside in Coldwater, MS; a live set documenting a west coast tour Burnside on Burnside appeared in 2001.

 

His next studio album Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down appeared in 2000 but it would be another 4 years before the next new R.L. Burnside recording Bothered Mind was released. That same year Burnside suffered a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery. He never fully recovered from the attack and in 2005, at the age of 79, R.L. Burnside passed away in a Memphis, TN hospital.

 

 

source : Fat Possum Records website

 


Discography


Studios LP

 

1981 / Sound Machine Groove

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - Sound Machine Groove (1981)

A1. Shake, Little Baby

A2. Rolling And Tumbling

A3. Bad Luck City

A4. Going Down South

A5. Sound Machine Groove

 

B1. Jumper Hanging Out On The Line

B2. Searching For My Baby

B3. Long Haired Doney

B4. Pretty Woman

B5. Goin' Away Baby


1981 / Plays And Sings The Mississippi Delta Blues

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - Plays And Sings The Mississippi Delta Blues (1981)

A1. Shake 'Em On Down

A2. My First Wife Left Me

A3. Rolling And Tumbling

A4. Walking Blues

A5. Just Like A Woman

A6. Death Bells

 

B1. Long Distance Call

B2. Jumper On The Line

B3. Nightmare Blues

B4. Poor Black Mattie

B5. Bad Luck And Trouble

B6. Sweet Black Angel


1992 / Bad Luck City (with The Sound Machine)

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - Bad Luck City (1992)

01. Talking About The Ghetto

02. Bad Luck City / Friend Of Mine

03. Shake For Me

04. Boogie Chillen

05. All She Do

06. Long Haired Doney / Poor Boy Long Way From Home

07. Burnsides' Blues

08. Crosscut Saw

09. Outskirts Of Town

10. My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble

11. Look On Yonder's Wall

12. Jumper On The Line

13. No Place To Go

14. Bad Sign

15. Killing Floor

16. You Don't Love Me


1994 / Too Bad Jim

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - Too Bad Jim (1994)

A1. Shake 'Em On Down

A2. When My First Wife Left Me

A3. Short-Haired Woman

A4. Old Black Mattie

A5. Fireman Ring The Bell

 

B1. Peaches

B2. Miss Glory B.

B3. 44 Pistol

B4. Death Bell Blues

B5. Goin' Down South


1996 / A Ass Pocket Of Whiskey

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - A Ass Pocket Of Whiskey (1996)

A1. Goin' Down South

A2. Boogie Chillen

A3. Poor Boy

A4. 2 Brothers

A5. Snake Drive

A6. Shake 'Em On Down

 

B1. The Criminal Inside Me

B2. Walkin' Blues

B3. Tojo Told HiItler

B4. Have You Ever Been Lonely?


1997 / Mr. Wizard

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - Mr Wizard (1997)

A1. When My First Wife Left Me

A2. Death Bell Blues

A3. Skinny Woman

A4. Monkey In The Pool Room

A5. Hobo Blues

A6. Walking Blues

 

B1. Long Haired Doney

B2. Poor Black Mattie

B3. Meet Me In The Bottom

B4. Miss Glory B.

B5. Kindhearted Woman Blues

B6. Gamblers Blues


1998 / Come On In

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - Come On In (1998)

A1. Been Mistreated

A2. Come On In (Live)

A3. Let My Baby Ride

A4. Don't Stop Honey

A5. It's Bad You Know

A6. Just Like A Woman

 

B1. Come On In (Part 2)

B2. Rollin' Tumblin' (Remix)

B3. Please Don't Stay

B4. Shuck Dub

B5. Come On In (Part 3)

B6. Heat


1999 / My Black Name A-Ringin'

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - My Black Name A-Ringin' (1999)

A1. Goin' Down South

A2. Two Trains Runnin'

A3. Sat Down On My Bed And Cried

A4. Nine Days In Jail

A5. Long Haired Doney

A6. Hobo Blues

A7. My Black Name Ringin'

 

B1. Catfish Blues

B2. See My Jumper

B3. Peach Tree Blues

B4. Goin' Away Blues

B5. Poor Boy

B6. Tom Wilson's Place


2000 / Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down (2000)

A1. Hard Time Killing Floor

A2. Got Messed Up

A3. Miss Maybelle

A4. Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down

A5. Too Many Ups

A6. Nothin' Man

 

B1. See What My Buddy Done

B2. My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble

B3. Bad Luck City

B4. Chain Of Fools

B5. R.L.'s Story


2004 / A Bothered Mind

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - A Bothered Mind

A1. Detroit Boogie, Pt. 1

A2. See What My Buddy Done

A3. Shake 'Em On Down

A4. Goin' Down South

A5. My Name Is Robert Too

A6. Someday Baby

A7. Go To Jail

 

B1. Bird Without A Feather

B2. Glory Be

B3. Goin' Away Baby

B4. Rollin' And Tumblin'

B5. Stole My Check

B6. Detroit Boogie, Pt. 2


Live LP

 

1984 / Mississippi Blues

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - Mississippi Blues (1984)

A1. Jumper Hanging Out On The Line

A2. Sweet Little Angel

A3. Long Haired Doney

A4. Nightmare Blues

A5. Poor Black Mattie

A6. Catfish Blues

 

B1. Death Bells

B2. Dust My Broom

B3. Bad Luck And Trouble

B4. Rolling And Tumbling

B5. When My First Wife Quit Me


2001 / Burnside on Burnside

the Funky Soul story - R.L. Burnside - Burnside on Burnside

A1. Shake 'Em On Down

A2. Skinny Woman

A3. Miss Maybelle

A4. Rollin' & Tumblin'

A5. Long Haired Doney

A6. Walkin' Blues

A7. He Ain't Your Daddy

 

B1. Bad Luck And Trouble

B2. Jumper On The Line

B3. Goin' Down South

B4. Alice Mae

B5. Snake Drive


Radioshow


COMING SOON

radioshow THE BLACK MUSIC LIVE with R.L. Burnside / Sunday, November 25th - 3pm