Friday, October 19, 2018

Another Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume Two, Track Fourteen

Frank Frost
In the mid 80's, there was a movie, Crossroads, that hit the theaters.  It was sort of a coming-of-age story about a teenage boy obsessed with the blues who meets an old blues man who supposedly performed with Robert Johnson and knows of a "missing song" that Johnson performed, but never recorded.  It mostly deals with the two of them traveling around the Mississippi Delta, encountering different groups of people and eventually ending up in a head-cutting contest with the Devil's representative, played by metal guitarist Steve Vai.  It's not a great movie, but it was about all a young blues fan had at the time.

The main thing that I liked about it was the soundtrack, which was done by Ry Cooder, Bobby King, Terry Evans, and several blues musicians that included harmonica player Frank Frost.  Frost actually made a cameo appearance in the movie, from what I remember, and he had one song on the soundtrack.  I really liked the downhome feeling of Frost's song, "Cotton Needs Pickin'," which was a rowdy roadhouse rocker compared to most of the other songs on the movie's soundtrack.

Later on, I discovered a few other Delta blues artists, such as Big Jack Johnson, Sam Carr (who was also on the Crossroads soundtrack), and Booba Barnes.  These guys led me to Earwig Record's album Rockin' The Juke Joint Down, by the Jelly Roll Kings, a trio that included Johnson on guitar, Carr on drums, and, yep, Frank Frost on harmonica and keyboards.  I listened to that album over and over again.  It was just mesmerizing to this young blues fan.

I tried to track down as many recordings by these artists as I could......I was able to find most of Johnson's recordings over the years, picked up a couple of Sam Carr releases, several more Jelly Roll Kings albums, and a few by Frank Frost.  One of my favorites was Jelly Roll Blues on Paula Records, which collected recordings by Frost on Jewel Records, where he was backed by Johnson and Carr in a pre-Jelly Roll Kings gathering.  The album was produced by Scotty Moore, former guitarist for Elvis Presley.  The trio had recorded previous for Sun Records' Sam Phillips, and actually recorded many of the same songs, but this is a really good set that captures the essence of the Mississippi Delta blues in a live-in-the-studio setting.

One of my favorite songs on the album is "Pocket Full of Money."  I actually heard it first by a West Coast blues band called the Fremonts, sung by Mighty Joe Milsap.  The Fremonts is a fine group who play outstanding Delta and Swamp blues covers and original tunes, and you should really check them out sometime if you're not familiar.  However, I really like Frost's version of this tune with it's relatively laid-back musical and vocal approach.  I hope you do, too.

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