Sonny Boy WILLIAMSON II (Rice Miller) – Keep It to Ourselves 1963

Sonny Boy WILLIAMSON II (Rice Miller) – Keep It to Ourselves 1963
Recorded at Copenhagen, Denmark (11/01/1963).
2001 Issue.


You know I heard about your racket,
the day I dropped in your town.
If you don’t keep your hand out of my pocket,
I’m gonna have you taken down
An intimate 1963 collection of Sonny Boy Williamson in solo and duet (with guitarist Matt Murphy) formats; on three tracks, pianist Memphis Slim hops aboard. This delightful addendum to Williamson’s electric output of the same era was cut in Denmark and first issued on Storyville.
By Bill Dahl.
First,don’t confuse Sonny Boy Williamson with Sonny Boy Williamson.I mean,don’t confuse Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller,born Aleck Ford,ca.1897,died May 25,1965),who’s playing here,with Sonny Boy Williamson I,who was younger (born John Lee Williamson,1914-1948) but who recorded in the thirties,whereas the second didn’t record before the end of the fourties.
Both two are among the most essential harmonica players in the blues history,with Sonny Terry ,Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter.
Personnaly,I think that Rice Miller,the guy you’ll listen to on this CD,is my favorite one.This very mysterious man (we still don’t know his real name,Miller or Ford,neither his surname,neither his date of birth,1897,1899,or 1891 ?) was one of the major artists in the Chicago blues style,with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.He created an incredible music,full of roughness,energy and even violence.A music which clearly came from the delta,as Wolf and Muddy,but a very modern one (listen to Sonny Boy’s amazing 50’s recordings).As modern as Muddy,Wolf,or Robert Johnson;the only difference is that he was 15 or 20 years older than them.
Sonny Boy died in his sleep,May 25,1965,of “natural causes”,but surely of too much alcohol.This record was made in Copenhagen,Denmark in 1963.It features the legendary Matt Murphy on acoustic guitar.Sonny Boy’s harp ,sometimes almost vocal-like effects,make me think of great jazz trumpet or trombone players,like Bubber Miley or Joe Nanton.Here are real down home blues,and some essential ones.Listen to the pieces in which Sonny plays alone (“I can’t understand”);listen to his hit,”The sky is crying”(also an Elmore James’ hit). Listen to the guest star,Memphis Slim himself,on “Same girl”.Listen to Sonny’s fascinating voice,surely one of the most expressive in blues.Listen to the great support of drummer’s Bill Stepney.Listen to this exceptionnal blues album,exceptionnal because it’s the only album in which Sonny Boy plays in an “unplugged” contest.If you like it,then jump to his 50’s records.I discovered that his “one way out” CD sadly is out of stock;if you can find an used copy of it,don’t miss it,this is one of the most important blues records of all times.It includes an incredible amount of total masterpieces.Don’t miss this music,because it really swings like mad.
By Jean-Marie Juif.
This is a surprisingly excellent recording for its age. The clarity is almost eerie – you can feel the connecting from lung to mouth to harmonica – a portrait in sound of a man’s respiratory system! Okay, okay, that doesn’t sound very appetizing, I know – but we’re not talking country music here. This is true down and dirty blues by one of the great bluesmen of all time. Sonny Boy plays as if the instrument were literally a part of his body (not an original observation, I admit, but I don’t recall where I read it). It is the soul, of course, that gives this work its excitement and depth. The pairing up sessions with Matt Murphy and Memphis Slim are absolutely precious. If you play the harmonica or have an interest in starting a blues collection – this is a great place to begin. It was where I started – and for me the delicious heartbreak of blues music reverberates best with this superb recording. Highly recommendable.
With his unerring slur and direct wit, Sonny Boy II, born Rice Miller circa 1897 and dead some 68 years later, is Chicago’s third W: his great Chess albums stand with Wolf or Muddy. These 1963 recordings, culled from two much sparer purist LPs on a Danish label, are late-night visits to the Delta where he saw the light and kicked the bucket, and what they show off above all is his sexy, long-suffering harmonica cry. Where fools like his star pupil James Cotton strain against the dynamic limitations of that little piece of steel, Sonny Boy plays it like he sings it like he talks it–slyly, lethally, whispering complaints, secrets, existential questions, and promises made to be broken to anyone who ventures within earshot. Guitarist Matt Murphy on most cuts and pianist-vocalist Memphis Slim on a few are all the friends he needs. By Robert Christgau.
Sonny Boy Williamson- (Vocals, Harmonica);
Matt “Guitar” Murphy- (Guitar);
Memphis Slim- (Piano);
Bill Stephney- (Drums).
01. The Sky Is Crying 3:18
02. Slowly Walk Close to Me 3:22
03. Once Upon a Time 3:13
04. Don’t Let Your Right Hand Know 6:12
05. Movin’ Out 3:40
06. Coming Home to You Baby 4:02
07. I Can’t Understand 3:20
08. Same Girl 4:49
09. Gettin’ Together 3:47
10. Why Are You Cryin? 2:52
11. Girl Friends 4:40
12. When the Lights Went Out 4:27

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