If you want to hear fresh, timeless post-war blues that doesn’t remind you of Muddy or the other superstars, but is just representative, workaday blues with a magic that flows from its very “ordinariness", and which has all those qualities of snaky hiss and raw electricity without any of the tedious bragging or posturing “maleness" that is so often such a turn-off in the electric blues, you can’t do better than play yourself Juke Boy Bonner’s ‘Struggle Here In Houston’, made in 1968 and issued on an Arhoolie album called The Struggle. The YouTube posting of this track has disallowed embedding but the link is:
Bonner had started out virtually as a Jimmy Reed imitator, but in the long gap between his 1957-1960 sessions and his next visit to the studios, in 1967, he had found his own, beguilingly plain, sardonic style. Another of his albums rejoices in a title, taken from one of its songs, that is both splendid in itself and recurrently timely: Going Back To The Country Where They Don’t Burn The Buildings Down. Bonner lost the struggle there in Houston at the age of 47, in June 1978. To listen to his best records is to hear exactly the kind of rough guitar noises that Bob Dylan shows he loves by the sort of effort he makes with his own electric-guitar solos, which at best are triumphs of instinct over technique.
[Juke Boy Bonner: ‘Struggle Here In Houston’, Houston, 30/11 or 2/12/68; issued The Struggle, Arhoolie LP 1045, El Cerrito California, nd.; CD-reissued on Life Gave Me A Dirty Deal, Arhoolie CD 375, El Cerrito, nd.. Going Back To The Country Where They Don’t Burn The Buildings Down, Houston, 20/12/67 and 23/1/68, Arhoolie LP 1036, El Cerrito, nd.. Photo c/o Stefan Wirz, from his amazing website http://www.wirz.de/music/american.htm]