Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oh Mama : That's All Right (Mama)

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup : That's All Right (Mama)


Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup (see bio)
was a Mama specialist. One of his first sides in 1942 was the classic "Mama Don't Allow". "Rock Me Mama" (1944), "Love Me Mama", "Hey Mama Everything's All Right", "Love Me Mama" followed, and last but not least, "That's All Right (Mama)" (1946), that Elvis picked for his first single, along with "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", a record which became the physical symbol of both sides of rock 'n' roll roots : blues and country.

The original version is much rawer than the King's : Crudup only started playing guitar at 30, and his playing is primitive, rhythmic. As most Delta bluesmen, he plays the guitar like a percussion instrument, not caring much for chord progression and bar symmetry, but with some innovation : those riffs in the lower frets sound very funky and were pretty unusual at the time. There are barely 2 chords, the third one (the dominant for musicians) is gone, revealing pre-blues, African-like traits, like in John Lee Hooker.

It is said that Elvis came in person at Crudup's house to offer him the gold record plaque for the song. But Big Boy, who couldn't read or write, didn't even claim his due.

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