C.W. Stoneking Jungle Blues (3.5*)

Friday, 31 December 2010

Jungle Blues.jpg

There's something about C.W. Stoneking's Jungle Blues that doesn't quite feel right. Possibly, had it been an all-instrumental album, something along the lines of, say, John Fahey's Of Rivers and Religion (coincidentally, one of Hughesy's all-time favourites) I probably wouldn't have the same misgivings.

Instrumentally, you're talking the same sort of territory as the Fahey album, which re-created what you’d have heard on a steamboat travelling down the Mississippi River around the end of the nineteenth century as you might gather when the opening track is called Steamboat Gwine 'Round de Bend.

The difference, and the source of discomfort, comes in the form of the Stoneking vocals, which veer rather close to the hammy end of the hokum spectrum. In the end, I'm inclined to rank them as pastiche and tribute rather than mimicry and put down, though I suspect mileages might vary. Apart from that, however, the album's a fairly faithful recreation of the music from a long gone era, delivered with considerable panache by a bloke who spent his formative years in central Australia. I'll be watching for future releases.

© Ian Hughes 2012