The image that leaps out at you from the CD cover definitely fits the album’s title – Mr Boyd in aviator shades and beanie looking every inch the grizzled old Bluesman. And his voice has the same aged qualities – strong but ever so slightly tremulous, it screakms out the experience of a life lived in the Blues.
Boyd was picking cotton in Mississippi before he was 10, marching with Martin Luther King at age 16 and run out of town by the Klan before he was 18 for following MLK. This is Boyd’s autobiography in music and I couldn’t help but get caught up in it, loving the quality of the songwriting and the playing and especially his complete attachment to his music.
The songs ranges from slow Blues numbers through to gospel based tales and even jazzy R&B but all held together by that dark tone of voice.
The songs form a progression through his life so it is best listened to in the proper sequence but every song is strong and after listening to it straight through a couple of times I was able to pick up some top tracks – especially ‘Why Did You Take That Shot’, his reaction to the killing of Dr Martin Luther King, and ‘I Heard The Blues Somewhere’ about his first exposure to the Blues. I challenge anyone to not get a lump in their throat listening to 'Forty Nine Years'.
At some time in the future I am sure there will be a written biography of John Blues Boyd but this tells a lot of his story and in a manner that is his own unique voice.