14 tracks; 44 minutes.
Musician and blues historian Scott Ainslie’s sixth album was inspired by the acquisition of a 1934 Gibson L-50: “She’s an old lady who knows what she likes”! Scott brings together a series of songs mainly recorded between 1928 and 1941, all played on the L-50 with just a little additional instrumentation, everything played and sung by Scott. Everything is beautifully recorded with crystal clear instruments and vocals.
Mississippi John Hurt is the source for no fewer than six of these tunes, from his tribute to his home town “Avalon” to the catchy “Got The Blues, Can’t Be Satisfied”, both from John’s New York session for Okeh in 1928. The title of the album comes from MJH’s “The First Shot Missed Him” on which Scott adds fretless gourd banjo. The gentle “Honey Right Away” dates from 1966, after MJH’s rediscovery and first recorded at his final recording session; a steel string banjo adds color to Scott’s warm delivery of this charming song.
The jaunty “Monday Morning Blues” is another from 1928 and “Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me” from 1929 has lyrics supplied by record company executive WE Myers to a tune inspired by Jimmie Rodgers’ “Waiting For A Train”. Not surprisingly Robert Johnson also gets a look-in with “Love In Vain” and “Cross Road Blues” (Scott pointing out in the liner notes that, despite the mythology about this song and RJ’s life there is no mention of the devil in the song) Reverend Gary Davis is represented by the irreverent “Sally Whiskey”, a song he wrote before his conversion to preacher.
Scott’s only composition here is “Late Last Night”, written at the time of the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, so the lyrics have more of a contemporary resonance than most of the album: “Late last night rich and powerful men set the dogs loose on our throats again”. However, the music sits well alongside all the pre-war songs here.
Scott also takes in a wider spectrum than just blues by covering Irving Berlin’s 1932 song “Say It Isn’t So” in a lovely, gentle version with added bass, “When I See An Elephant Fly” from Disney’s “Dumbo” (1941) and Fats Waller’s cheeky “Ain’t Misbehavin’” (1929) which Scott has been playing live since the 1980’s. Reminding us that the song almost failed to make the final cut of 1939 movie “The Wizard Of Oz”, Scott’s slow and respectful adaptation of “Over The Rainbow” closes the album.
Through all these vintage songs Scott and his old guitar sound absolutely superb and fans of pre-war acoustic blues should certainly seek out this album.