Artist: Josh White
Album: Josh At Midnight
Label: Ramseur Records
Release Date: 08/19/2016
A bit of an unusual offering here with near-legendary US bluesman Josh White’s 1956 album, “Josh At Midnight” being once again released on vinyl, a format that against all odds appears to be gaining in popularity worldwide. White was seen as a seminal influence in the US acoustic blues music scene. “Josh At Midnight” is without a doubt his single, most important recording.
The album opens with White’s get-under-the-skin, soulful and subtle delivery of the old traditional standard “Saint James Infirmary” before cruising through a range of public domain titles including “Raise A Ruckus,” “Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho,” and “Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dyin’ Bed.” There’s also a dutifully evocative take on the old Great Depression number “One Meat Ball.”
White is often considered as a vital, seminal acoustic blues force and back in the mid-50’s he played an important role in popularizing the genre. However, it is also worth noting that his time, even then, was already numbered and within less than a decade many long-overlooked, true blues masters had been rediscovered and their careers resurrected. John Hurt, Skip James, Fred McDowell, Son House, Gary Davis all came to the forefront, while shortly afterwards Dylan, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and the Rolling Stones all took the music forward and ever upward.
“Josh At Midnight” is an album that has long been cherished by die-hard collectors and has been largely unobtainable. Perhaps with this re-offering of White’s finest moment, his place will again be appraised and appreciated and a new generation of blues-fans will be introduced to his memorable body of work.
– Iain Patience