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All Day Thumb Sucker

12-15-2023 | By Robert Pincus | Issue 130

This isn't the first time that I've expressed my love for sampler LPs, and it probably won't be the last. Some of them sound awful, but the ones that sound great are a pleasure to own. One of the main reasons I love samplers is because they provide me the opportunity to hear songs and artists that I otherwise might never hear. Also, as I've discussed previously, some of the music featured on samplers often sound better than they do elsewhere. In my article on country compilations (HERE) I pointed out how some songs by Waylon Jennings and Jim Reeves are best served by RCA's samplers. I also wrote about Elektra's Folk Song 65 (Elektra S-78) HERE, a folk sampler with phenomenal sound and great music. Today I'm writing about an eclectic LP that features rock, blues, and great sound, and it's called All Day Thumb Sucker (Blue Thumb BTS 2000). It was released in 1970.

Side two cut one is in my view substantial. It's by the original drummer for The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sam Lay (1935 - 2022). Sam is covering Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm." The excellent piano work is by his Butterfield bandmate, Mark Naftalin, and the stunning guitar work is by another one of his Butterfield bandmates, Mike Bloomfield (1943 - 1981). Covers of Dylan's material always invite comparisons with the originals. While I don't like Lay's version better than Bobby's hard-hitting original, Lay packs a boatload of charm. Bobby's original opens with his acoustic guitar, while Lay's version opens with Naftalin's nicely recorded piano. Very soon the piano receives some help from Bloomfield's guitar, and that's right before the rest of the band comes in. Lay wasn't the greatest singer in the world, but he was a great drummer, and Mike Bloomfield was incredible. Four minutes and fifty seven seconds feels really good. And the sound of this song on this compilation is substantially better than the way it sounds on Sam Lay In Bluesland (Blue Thumb BTS 14).

Side one cut three is "Shake 'Em On Down" by the acoustic blues legend Fred McDowell. McDowell is usually referred to as Mississippi Fred McDowell, but on this LP he is referenced by just his name. Although many blues artists, including McDowell, made previous recordings of this song, this particular version comes from a 1969 release called Memphis Swamp Jam (Blue Thumb BTS 14). The sound is the star here, because it's outstanding. I used to own Memphis Swamp Jam way back in the mid 90s, and I would still own it if it sounded anything like this. I like acoustic blues in small doses, but if more of it sounded like this I'd be into larger doses. The sound of McDowell scraping the guitar strings, a harmonica, and McDowell's voice is as good as vintage analog gets. The music is pretty darn good as well.

Side two is a cut by Arthur Lee (1942 - 2006) and his band Love, called "Run To The Top." This is not the same Love that we know from Elektra. Lee had a second love, and like most fans I only know the first band called Love. This is blues-rock, and a very different band than the one that gave us "My Little Red Book." This song comes from a 2-LP set called Out There (Blue Thumb BTS 9000). As I've never seen this album, and I don't know if I ever will, it's nice to have easy access to a different flavor of Arthur Lee's Love.

Side two cut three is another selection from Memphis Swamp Jam. The artist is Nathan Beauregard (1892 - 1970), and the song is called "'Bout A Spoonful." Delta blues is rarely my thing, but in very small doses I can get into it. This is a perfect dose, and it sounds very good, too.

There is one other cut that may be worth somebody's time. It's called "Cat Black," by T.Rex. In 1969 the swinging "electric warrior" rock of T.Rex had yet to exist. Instead, Tyrannosaurus Rex was an acoustic duo, with the great Marc Bolan (1947 - 1977) singing and playing acoustic guitar. His partner, on various percussion instruments, but mostly bongos, was Steve Peregrin Took (1949 - 1980). It's impossible to understand Bolan's mumbled words, and they weren't meant to be understood either. In moderation, listening to early Bolan is fun. Unfortunately, the sound on side one cut five is below the par of previously mentioned cuts. It sounds much better on Unicorn (Blue Thumb BTS 7). I own it, and while it's not exactly indispensable, it has, like so many flawed albums, its moments, and those moments are wonderful.

Overall, I enjoy the fact that I own this album. It fills a nice spot on my miscellaneous blue section, which happens to be my only blues section. I found it sealed for a dollar, it sounds great, and most of the music is excellent. It was definitely meant to be my record.