Mississippi Fred McDowell

Album reviews:

1964: You Gotta Move [1994 reissue of 1964’s Delta Blues with bonus tracks]

You Gotta Move

Album: Defining Classic, 10/10| Released: 1994 | Recorded: 1964–1965 | Specific Genre: Hill Country Blues | Main Genre: Blues, Acoustic Blues | Undertones: Delta Blues | Label: Arhoolie

When the lord gets ready, you gotta move

Fred McDowell’s fame came late, but he had that rough and untamed slide, that soaring holler and that detached serenity to dominate and define a blues sound, needing no more than two or three chops to burn the house down. It’s one basic sound, a safety-hazard rattle consisting of heavily physical riffs and some meticulous picked lines, a front-porch stomp and a rousing voice tipping from the low into the high registers. A foundational document to hill country blues, it’s a droning, repetitive delta sound, meant to serve as a background stomp for endless dancing or slow head-bopping, clearly where his neighbour R.L. Burnside got his groove from. McDowell started recording in the 1960s as a part of the folk revival – this is possibly his best studio session disc (his live albums are ravishing), and this is the version of “You Gotta Move” that the Rolling Stones first heard. What more do you need?

Consumer Guide: Technically, this disc reissue is his 1964 debut Delta Blues (Arhoolie F1021) plus about half the numbers from Fred McDowell Vol. 2 (1966, Arhoolie F1027) as bonus tracks.