Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CHARLEY PATTON, Grandfather of Rock 'n' Roll

A mean, hard-hearted mean, Patton's blues inscribed all the experiences of a Mississippi man into the rough and sometimes barely audible sounds he made for Paramount. He was one of the oldest of the major bluesmen - born in 1887, he bridges the gap between the blues and songster generations - and he sounds like a gruff, irritable figure, a self-taught musician but someone who knows he's damn good, even if he has his own manners. Blues didn't start with Patton, but he personified its expressionism - in the heat and flood of "Mississippi Bo Weavil Blues" and "High Water Everywhere" - and lived out its tissue of "saints and sinners" with an intensity which still strikes through these ancient records.