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East Side SlimBy East Side Slim

Larry Davis – “Funny Stuff”Larry Davis – “Funny Stuff”

Larry Davis grew up in Arkansas, working with Fenton Robinson in the mid-50s. He started recording for Duke in 1958 with “Texas Flood” (the original version by the way - and likely still the best.) He signed to Duke at the recommendation of Bobby Bland. Larry recorded sporadically over the years and passed away in 1994.

Davis was an extraordinary talent. He had a tremendous voice, with a soft vibrato. He sang in the B.B. King, Little Joe Blue, Bobby Bland style. His biting single-not guitar work could be placed somewhere between the sounds of B.B. King and Son Seals. He had more edge in his playing than King, but it wasn’t as harsh as Seals. “Funny Stuff” was originally released in 1982, and was re-released on CD by Rooster Blues in 2001. This review is based on the 2001 version of the album. “Funny Stuff” is basically Larry Davis’ St. Louis album. All of the musicians on the album were St. Louis stalwarts. The cast of characters was: Oliver Sain on piano, organ and all saxes; Phil Westmoreland on guitar; Johnnie Johnson on piano; Billy Gayles on drums; Jimmy Hinds on bass and drums; Eugene Johnson on bass; and Don Smith on drums. The album has all the features of the St. Louis blues sounds, with a combination of raw emotion mixed with Uptown sensibilities.

The Songs:

1. Funny Stuff – Larry’s having some trouble here with his Louisiana woman. She’s been putting the hex on his mojo!

2. Teardrops –
A slow blues number. Larry works the lyric hard, with St. Louis’ finest backing him in great style. This is a very tasty, intense slow-boiling track.

3. Next Time You See Me
– Yep, it’s the old standard, set at a nice mid-tempo lope. Great sax fills and solos by Oliver Sain. Larry’s voice really shines here, and he supplies some tasty never-in-a-hurry guitar solos.

4. Worried Dream
– slooowwwwww blues number. The slower tunes on this album, such as this song, showcase Davis’ vocal abilities. It makes me want to put on my Fenton Robinson albums… This tune is very much in that vein. The song has a long, quiet intro, building in intensity throughout. Great moaning horns give a real feel of melancholy to the song.

5 . Totsy
– Two pianos playing on this one folks. Oliver Sain’s playing can be heard on the left channel, and Johnnie Johnson’s work can be heard on the right channel. The song is a mid-tempo instrumental similar in basic structure to “Next Time You See Me”. The difference here (besides having no vocals) is that Larry and Phil Westmoreland are taking solo guitar turns throughout.

6. Since I Been Loving You – Subtly funky little track, with Westmoreland playing bass. Davis is singing the tale of the improvement in his life brought about by having a good woman in his world.

7. That Will Never Do – Now this one has Larry singing about the damage his woman has wrought in his life due to her selfish wicked ways. Great Son Seals-like guitar lines are heard, with horns honking along. This tune is the blues.

8. Walk Out Like A Lady – This is an atmospheric slow blues, with organ and horns feeding the somber mood. GREAT vocals here, as Larry makes you feel the heartache he’s feeling as his woman leaves his/their home for another man. Deep!

9. Fine ‘em, Fool ‘em & Forget ‘em – It’s a mid-tempo funky track, telling the tale of a father admonishing his son to find girls, do what you have to do, and then forget them. Don’t get attached son! Ah, Larry didn’t head that advice…he got himself hooked on one woman and ended up hurt and is now singing and playing about it.

10. Got To Be Some Changes Made – the set closing track, it’s one last slower blues. The song is definitely reminiscent vocally of Bobby Bland’s old heartbreak tunes when he was with Duke. Take that and mix it with an Albert King musical vibe and you have a good idea of what this track sounds like. Vocal passages pull the energy in, penning it up, and then the instrumental passages release the raw emotion. Very cool, very well done.

The Verdict:

“Funny Stuff” is a wonderful old-school blues album. Nothing fancy here, no tricks, just great music. If you are a fan of great singers and ensemble playing, then this CD is for you. It does a fine job of showcasing the St. Louis blues sound, also. I’m giving this a 4 of 5 on the blues-o-meter.

Lee 'East Side Slim' Howland
The STLBluesometer

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