John Blues Boyd – “What my eyes have seen…” | Album Review

John Blues Boyd – “What my eyes have seen…”

Gulf Coast Records

9 songs time – 51:34

Seventy-five year old Mississippian John Blues Boyd recalls his life and life history in song in this recording. Writing credits are by various combinations of John Blues Boyd, Kid Andersen and president of Gulf Coast Records Guy Hale. His deep, rich warm and exuberant voice and delivery put the songs across succinctly. Think Sam Myers’ voice without the nasality. There are brief sung interludes called “My Memory Takes Me There” between songs accompanied only by Kid Andersen on organ and guitar. Otherwise on all other songs it’s Kid on guitar, organ and percussion, June Core on drums, Quantae Johnson on bass with occasional substitutions and a horn section. Although all songs are geared to reflect John’s life, they maintain a solid blues foundation.

In “In My Blood” he professes his love for the blues from an early age. His lively vocals belie his age. Jim Pugh contributes rollicking piano. The first interlude “My Memory Takes Me There” talked-sang over organ and guitar. “What My Eyes Have Seen” has kind of a “snaky” quality as guitars, organ and horns crisscross over each other.

The Greaseland Youngsters take over the reins for “I Heard The Blues” along with Kid Andersen on Farfisa organ and they deliver a good showing. “Ran Me Out Of Town” is the true story of how he was run out of town for joining Martin Luther King’s Freedom March at eighteen. Nancy Wright sits in on sax. “A Beautiful Woman(for Dona Mae)” is a touching ode to his late wife.

He ruminates on the killing of Martin Luther King on “Why Did You Take That Shot?”. The full horn section backs him here along with the soulful organ playing of Jim Pugh. Kid Andersen’s guitar is as moving here as it is throughout the CD. John relates how he took Howlin’ Wolf’s advice in song and went to “California”. Kid introduces some swinging jump blues guitar to propel “The Singing Roofer”, an autobiographical song of John.

The slow and mournful “49 Years” transmits John’s sorrow over the passing of his beloved wife. Jim Pugh’s poignant piano styling’s and Kid’s guitar convey the solemn tone quite succinctly. “Got To Leave My Mark” reveals his determination to have made a lasting impression after he’s gone.

His initial recording may have taken a long time in coming, but what he has to say and how his booming voice recalls his life is truly moving. You have just witnessed a heartfelt collaboration between gifted story telling singer and his gifted support team. The brief snippets between most songs serve as intros to the song’s themes. The wisdom of a wise soul put to song.

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