Louisiana Red – No Turn On Red

Alt Country (Netherlands)
Bad Dog Blues
Big Road Blues
Black Highway (Italy)
Blues Bytes
Blues Revue
Docteur Blues (France)
Fenn Music (Germany)
Living Blues
Planet (Netherlands)

Blues Revue (June / July 2005)

The blues, even more than other artistic forms, is personal; after all, the genre was started by people who sang about themselves. Louisiana Red is firmly planted within that meta-tradition, not just because he sings shaggy-dog stories about his own troubles, but because they seem so unique to his life. It’s one thing to write a song about the fickle love of a woman or the way money seems to disappear as fast as it comes; it’s quite another to do a number about how the women in his own booking agent’s office snicker behind his back (“Everybody Laughs at Me”). “That makes a man angry. Make him so angry, that he play blues like this here,” declares Red, exploding in a hurt, scolding series of slide licks.

It’s the kind of biography that’s endeared this occasionally electric country blues traditionalist to a small but devoted cult of admirers, and he embroiders it further withNo Turn On Red, recorded over the past few years in fits and starts. (Two tracks actually date from 1999; “Everybody Laughs at Me” goes all the way back to 1982.) Most of the focus with this release will likely fall on “September 11th Blues,” where Red, armed only with an acoustic guitar, describes “people runnin’ and cryin’ … 1 thought it was a movie film.” Didn’t we all.

For any other artist, a song that topical would be the centerpiece of an album, but most of the focus here is on Red and his life, which he makes you relive with him thanks to his acidic guitar on tracks like “I Done Woke Up” and “Mary Dee Shuffle.” He covers warhorses in “Rollin’ Stone” and “You Got To Move,” but he makes them his own: The former is so offhand it’s almost too cool for the room, while the latter is so slow and roughly ethereal it sounds like a parody of movement itself. If personal expression is what it’s all about, and the rest is marketing, then there might be no more “real” bluesman working today.

– Robert Fontenot

Planet (Netherlands) (April 2005)

Eigenlijk is Louisiana Red (in 1936 geboren als Iverson Minter) een dinosaurus van de blues, van het ras van Grote Bluesmannen, dat zolangzamerhand aan het uitsterven is. Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson en Jimmy Reed zijn al niet meer onder ons, en komende zomer komt BB King voor zijn laatste shows naar Nederland.

Wie wil weten hoe de blues anno 2005 kan klinken, moet `No Turn On Red’ (High Tone/Sonic Rendezvous) maar eens aanschaffen. Het is delta- en Chicago-blues in optima forma, rauw en eerlijk, zonder opsmuk, met de oude Red in topvorm. Hij zingt en schreeuwt zijn blues over het zwerversbestaan, het rijden per vrachttrein, 11 september en zijn verwoeste jeugd (zijn ouders waren arme katoenplukkers, moeder stierf een week na Red’s geboorte aan een longontsteking, zijn vader werd, toen hij vijf was, gelyncht door de Ku Klux Klan).

Daarbij rost hij op zijn gitaar of laat hij zijn slide grommen, terwijl zijn buddy en producer Bob Corritore (een groot man in de Chicago bluesscene tegenwoordig) zijn mondharmonica laat huilen en jammeren.

Elf tracks kent deze plaat. De meeste zijn door Louisiana Red (of zijn vrouw Dora!) geschreven, maar een eervolle vermelding verdienen toch de ten hemelschreiende versie van het aloude `You Gotta Move’ van Mississippi Fred McDowell, en het bezwerende `Rollin’ Stone van Muddy Waters.

Perfecte band ook, met Buddy Reed op gitaar en Paladins-drummer Brian Fahey. Need we say more?

– Dietmar Terpstra

Fenn Music (Germany) (March 2005)

One of the few living original purveyors of Delta blues, Louisiana Red channels his influences into a sound that is improvisational at times yet intense – expressing his feelings of the moment – drawing the listener in to his earnest and sometimes vulnerable world. Recorded and produced by long-time friend and harmonica player, Bob Corritore, this album features the stirring “September 11th Blues” and includes new versions of some of Red’s classics such as “Freight Train to Ride” and “Red’s New Dream.”

Bad Dog Blues (March 2005)

Louisiana Red has an impressive recording career stretching back over fifty years, but his recordings in the past decade have been nothing less than astonishing in their sheer intensity and power. “No Turn On Red” is no exception, another stark and powerful recording brimming with passionate playing and deeply personal tales from Red’s troubled psyche.

Red made his first recording as Rocky Fuller back in 1949 and has recorded prolifically for numerous labels over the years. After years of being underappreciated, Red is now considered one of the elder statesmen of the blues. His recordings in the past decade for JSP, Earwig and Severn have been some of the most consistent and powerful recordings of any bluesman during the same period. “No Turn On Red” is yet another deep and intense set of blues recorded between 1999 and 2003.

Red makes no bones about the hard life he’s lived all of which he filters through his deeply personal blues in cathartic fashion. While there’s many talented youngsters on the the blues scene there’s something true about living the blues to know the blues and Red is certainly proof of that as he lets it all hang out on these heartfelt tunes. Red’s powerhouse vocals can holler out the blues with abandon when called for, take a more soulful approach when needed or a conversational tone like Lightnin’ Hopkins. Red’s stark, downhome blues owe a strong debt to Hopkins as well as to John Lee Hooker whom he gigged around with for almost two years in the late ’50s. You’ll also hear shades of Elmore James and Muddy Waters in his ferocious slide work. Red puts all those influences together on tough, raw boned tales like the solo “Red’s Hobo Blues” as Red kicks into some distorted, fuzzed out guitar which he amps up a notch on the blistering “I Done Woke Up” with the wall of fuzz nearly threatening to break into chaos. Red’s trademark slide is heard to good effect on “Freight Train To Ride” which sounds like a lost Elmore James number and some Muddy styled slide on the smoldering “Cotton Pickin’ Blues” featuring some fine amplified harp from producer Bob Corritore. Other highlights include the moving “September 11th Blues” when “hell came right down from the sky”, the surreal “Red’s New Dream” another in a series of fanciful tales that began with the original “Red’s Dream” cut back in the early 60’s and the deeply affecting “Everybody Laughs At Me” which stems from a 1982 session.

Nobody’s cutting better blues records these days than Louisiana Red who seems to tap into an endless well spring of passion and self reflection on each new release. Red has never been shy about stating his influences and now that Muddy, Lightnin’, John Lee and Elmore are all gone, Louisiana Red is left alone as their true heir apparent.

– Jeff Harris

Blues Bytes (February 2005)

Louisiana Red has recorded literally dozens of albums during his 50+ year blues career. I admit that I haven’t listened to everything this great bluesman has recorded, but without hesitation I can say that No Turn On Red should go down as one of his best ever.

In fact, it’s not much of a stretch to say that this disc rivals the best downhome Chicago blues recordings of the golden era of the 1950s.

The 11 cuts on No Turn On Red, produced by Bob Corritore, were recorded over seven different sessions, most occurring in 2002 and 2004. The CD’s closing cut, “Everybody Laughs At Me,” was done in 1982.

Corritore assembled great groups of backing musicians for the sessions. At times, one could swear that Red was playing in front of a band transplanted from a 1950s-era Chess Records session.

No Turn On Red opens with the artist performing solo on “Red’s Hobo Blues.” Red’s guitar emits a heavy, fuzzy sound, almost getting a little psychedelic at times. Vocally, he sounds reminiscent of Lightnin’ Hopkins on this cut.

“Freight Train To Ride” features a dynamite slide guitar break that would make Elmore James smile.

Red pours out his heart and soul on “September 11th Blues,” a simple but elegantly beautiful tribute to the lives lost in the tragedies at the World Trade Center.

The Muddy-ish “Cotton Pickin’ Blues” is the hottest number on the disc, featuring exemplary slide guitar work along with excellent harp accompaniment from Corritore.

Pianist Matt Bishop provides tasteful playing on the mid-tempo “Mary Dee Shuffle,” with Red contributing nice downhome guitar.

In one of his strongest vocal performances on the disc, Red shouts out the blues on “Red’s New Dream,” a raucous Muddy-ish ‘hoochie coochie’ style number.

It’s apparent that No Turn On Red was a labor of love for both the artist and the producer, with the best of multiple sessions being brought together to form what will undoubtedly be one of the best traditional blues albums of the year.

It’s certainly worthy of widespread recognition, so spread the news — Louisiana Red is hot!

– Bill Mitchell

Big Road Blues (January 2005)

11 tracks, 48 minutes. Highly recommended. Iverson Minter, also known as Louisiana Red, Playboy Fuller, and Rocky Fuller remains strongly dedicated to his blues in a highly personal style and consistently recalls the influence of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and other stalwarts. Recorded between 1982 and 2003 backed by Bob Corritore’s harp, solid guitar from Johnny Rapp and Buddy Reed, Chico Chism’s driving backbeats and others, Red hands in another deep, and often heart-wrenching, set of gripping blues. Freight Train To Ride, You Got To Move, Rollin’ Stone, Red’s New Dream, Everybody Laughs At Me, Red’s Hobo Blues, and plenty more. If you’ve never had the pleasure of introducing your senses to Louisiana Red, this is as fine a starting point as anything currently available.

– Craig Ruskey

Living Blues (May / June 2004)

Louisiana Red has made quite a few records since the ‘50’s, but few have been as intense as No Turn On Red. His musical models – Lightnin’ Hopkins, Elmore James, and Muddy Waters – have not changed, and he continues to use their styles as skeletons on which to construct his unique poetic insights into the human condition. It’s the raw power of Red’s performances on these 11 songs that make No Turn On Red such an essential entry in the veteran bluesman’s discography. Arizona producer Bob Corritore captured these sides between 1982 and 2003 and recently compiled them for this HMG release. The pain in Red’s craggy voice and the passion of his guitar playing – often amplified to bone-crushing levels of distortion – are overwhelming on nearly every tune.

Corritore tailored the accompaniment and the volume to fit each song. Some find Red performing alone, on acoustic guitar, or on electric. The harmonica-blowing producer joins Red for a chilling reading of Fred McDowell’s “You Got To Move.” Other selections feature full blues bands, most including Corritore, all top-notch.

Louisiana Red made his biggest national impact in 1963 with “Red’s Dream,” a topical blues in which he suggested putting “a soul brother in the White House” and chided USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev. Here he turns even more whimsical with a revised reading of the previously recorded “Red’s New Dream,” introducing chitlins and other soul delicacies to the people of Mars while at the same time protesting high taxes. Other songs, however, are dead serious, especially the “September 11th Blues,” sung with just his acoustic guitar (composer’s credit given to his wife, Dora Minter, as it is on three others).

The logic of Red’s lyrics is at times perplexing. He’ll throw out images that promise brilliance, and then leave them dangling – their ideas unresolved or ending in difficult-to-decipher lines. Yet his tunes are often so nakedly personal – particularly “Everybody Laughs At Me,” rendered Muddy Waters-style, with Red supplying the only accompaniment on highly amplified slide guitar – and delivered with such depth of feeling that it’s hard to resist being drawn into his orbit.

– by Lee Hildebrand

Docteur Blues (France)

Concernant Louisiana Red, j’en étais resté sur un concert pas fameux qu’il avait donné en avril 1994 au défunt passage du Nord Ouest en ouverture de Benoit Blue Boy. Ce jour là, c’est vrai qu’il n’était pas en grande forme et qu’il m’a laissé une mauvaise impression à tel point que je ne m’étais plus déplacé pour les concerts qu’il a ensuite donné en France et que j’avais aussi fait l’impasse sur ces CD. Grave erreur !

Je m’en rend compte aujourd’hui en écoutant sa dernière galette enregistrée dans l’Arizona et produite par l’incontournable Bob Corritore. Autant dire de suite que mon scepticisme initial au sujet de Louisiana Red a volé en éclat tellement ce CD est une pure merveille, un régal pour mes oreilles, son chant étant particulièrement émouvant, sa guitare véritablement incisive.

On y trouve trois morceaux où il apparait en solo (guitare et chant) et 8 autres morceaux où il est accompagné d’un groupe comprenant Bob Corritore à l’harmonica sur 5 titres, Johnny Rapp (2 titres) et Buddy Reed (3 titres) à la guitare, Matt Bishop au piano (3 titres), Paul Thomas (2 titres) et Mario Moreno (5 titres) à la basse, Chico Chism (4 titres), Paul Fasulo (1 titre) et Brian Fahey (2 titres) à la batterie; bref, un véritable all-star band au service de Red.

Ces 11 titres sont issus de pas moins de 7 sessions différentes où Lousiana Red justifie sa réputation de caméléon musical et pourtant il s’en dégage une réelle unité musicale, la production de Bob Corritore est comme d’habitude impeccable et les notes de pochette sont assez complètes.

La plupart des titres de ce CD sont des originaux avec parfois des thèmes très contemporains comme ‘September 11th Blues” (crédité à sa femme Dora Minter qui signe ici 4 titres), un morceau acoustique particulièrement poignant, un vrai blues d’une profondeur infinie qui me donne des frissons à chaque fois que je l’écoute. On y retrouve une atmosphère dramatique et pesante parfaitement en phase avec la tragédie du 11 septembre racontée ici avec des mots simples.

Il enchaine ensuite avec un “I done woke up” sauvage à souhait, dans un style proche de Hound Dog Taylor, puis par un somptueux “Cotton Pickin’ blues”, un blue lent qui me fait penser au “Long distance call” de Muddy Waters avec son de slide guitare qui réjouira tous les amateurs du genre.

On retrouve le thème classique du vagabond avec “Red’s hobo blues”, d’une grande intensité avec juste la voix et une guitare électrique. Son jeu de guitare est contrasté, le son clair et quasi acoustique faisant parfois place à des riffs sauvages et saturés. “Freight train to ride” est un morceau qui fait penser à Elmore James, où Red joue en slide. “Red’s new dream” est un morceau dans la lignée de “Hoochie coochie man” / “I’m a man” / “Mannish boy” avec ce riff caractéristique.

Je suis loin d’être un spécialiste de la longue carrière de Louisiana Red, mais il m’apparait évident qu’avec ce CD, Louisiana Red sort ici l’un de ses tous meilleurs cd, excellent de bout en bout, une sorte de cd référence; Pour moi, c’est aussi évidemment l’un meilleurs cd de blues de cette année 2005. Bref, à maintenant 69 ans, Louisiana Red a sans doute encore de belles années devant lui.

Un cd à découvrir absolument…

– Jocelyn Richez


Iverson Minter, aka Louisiana Red, has an interesting sort of hybrid blues sound. His roots are in the Delta, as his raw and unadorned style makes quite clear. But whereas the stereotypical Delta blues sound is spare and dry, often featuring only acoustic guitar and voice, Louisiana Red’s approach is big, loud, and messy, with lots of brutally overdriven guitar and the frequent accompaniment of bass and drums. (Producer Bob Corritore pitches in on harmonica on several tracks, as well.) The opening track on his latest album, the minimalist “Red’s Hobo Blues”, seems to be placed at the beginning of the program in order to lull you into complacency before he whangs you upside the head with the raucous one-two punch of “Freight Train to Ride” (a new recording of an old favorite) and “I Been Down So Long”. Then he changes it up again, with a simple and deeply felt tribute to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks (“September 11th Blues”) before ramping things back up with the sonically raunchy “I Done Woke Up”. That’s pretty much how it goes for the whole album: moments of quiet reflection broadsided by some of the rawest electro-Delta blues shouting you’ll ever hear. Recommended.

– Rick Anderson, All Music Guide

Black Highway (Italy)

A leggere della vita di Louisiana Red ci si accorge che spesso l’essere nati sotto un cattivo segno sembra essere la costante maledizione del blues. Ma neppure sembra aver venduto l’anima al crocicchio il buon vecchio Iverson Minter, in arte il Rosso che la raccolta in questione ci offre di riscoprire in una serie di pezzi incisi tra l’ ’82 e il ’03, già nel suo periodo d’adozione europea in cui il musicista afroamericano si stabilisce ad Hannover, Germania.

Nato nel ’36, rimane presto orfano per una bronchite della madre, e pure per l’uccisione del padre a mano del KKK. Sarà probabilmente uno degli episodi biografici, quest’ultimo, che lo segnerà nei suoi intenti di violento antirazzismo per cui in un periodo di pausa musicale lo stesso farà parte anche del Movimento politico dei Musulmani Neri, e Rory Gallagher gli tributerà la tiratissima Ride On Red, Ride On dal suo album Jinx, 1982. L’attuale No Turn On Red – The Deep Blues Of Louisiana Red è una discreta summa raffazzonata dalla produzione Bob Corritore in un ensemble forse un po’arbitrario, che se dell’artista ne mostra gli aspetti grezzi e downhome, tra l’acustico e l’elettrico, in compagnia o meno, d’altra parte cede ad un certo soggettivismo del curatore – guest star all’armonica in talune songs – in una track-list cronologicamente sfalsata. Ma, bando alle pignolerie, c’è proprio da godersi l’insieme che apre su una Red’s Hobo Blues, e anche da crederci, che l’individuo dai mille soprannomi – Rocky Fuller, Playboy Fuller, Rockin’Red, Cryn’Red – abbandonato a New Orleans tra l’orfanotrofio e una lontana parente, sarà per anni mendico e vagabondo nell’itinerario confacente qualsivoglia degna american blues way of life fino alla Chicago del grande Muddy o la Detroit del compianto John Lee The Hook.

Prima track quindi nostalgica e quasi afosa come una strada del Sud; prima che l’urban-sound dell’accattivante Freight Train Blues dal refrain tipicamente “Elmore” prenda piede, e la slide vetrosa rispedisca il nostro sui più veri merci dell’antropologia del blues, insieme all’armonica di Corritore. Quando poi il finger style sporco ed acustico interviene a memoria dell’Undici Settembre, allora ci pare ricordare il blues sociale di J.B. Lenoir, e quasi a dirci che la storia americana è sia dei bianchi che dei neri, così lo fa anche Louisiana Red. Eccitante il rozzo attacco in I Done Woke Up, spontanea e tempestata ancora dal collo di bottiglia in spudorati solismi, che rispondono poi nella melanconica discesa della successiva Cotton Pickin’Blues con un piangente glissato alla Muddy Waters. E un gentile tributo a Mc Kinley Morganfield non poteva mancare nemmeno con la Rollin Stone eseguita dal Red, subito seguente all’altra classica You Got To Move di Fred Mc Dowell. La penultima Red’s New Dreamin realtà ci dice poi che il sogno di Red non è niente di nuovo, e il suo blues, come il riff mutuato da Hoochie Coochie Man, oramai è una parte di storia. Ride on Red, ride on!

– Matteo Fratti

Alt Country (Netherlands)

Net als bijvoorbeeld ook een Eddie Kirkland, een Eddie Burns, een Bobo Jenkins en natuurlijk ook een John Lee Hooker maakte Louisiana Red deel uit van het selecte clubje bluesgroten dat in de nadagen van WOII vanuit Detroit zijn eerste stappen zette. Wat aan die bewuste periode in zijn leven voorafging is stof voor een bijzonder pakkende biopic. Red – geboren als Iverson Minter op 23 maart 1936 ergens in het diepe Zuiden van de States – verloor zijn moeder amper een week na zijn geboorte. Ze overleed aan de gevolgen van een longontsteking. En op zijn vijfde stond hij er al helemaal alleen voor, toen ook zijn vader hem vroegtijdig werd ontnomen. Die werd brutaal om het leven gebracht door leden van de beruchte Ku Klux Klan. Via een omweg langs een weeshuis in New Orleans zou de jonge Iverson vervolgens bij zijn grootmoeder in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania belanden. Zij bracht hem groot en zou ook bepalend blijken naar zijn toekomst toe. Zij was het immers die hem zijn eerste gitaar kocht. Door mee te spelen met op de radio voorbijkomende hitjes en middels gitaarlessen van lokale bluesman Crit Walters werd Minter aan een rotvaart klaargestoomd voor het grote werk. En als hij op 14-jarige leeftijd in de vermaarde Harlem Inn eerder toevallig kennismaakt met Eddie Burns gaat de wagen al helemaal aan het rollen. Burns wordt zo’n beetje de mentor van de knaap en leert hem alle kneepjes van het vak. Het resultaat is wellicht genoegzaam bekend. Naast werk met ondermeer John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Elmore James en Lightnin’ Hopkins zou Louisiana Red tussen 1952 en nu ook een karrenvracht aan eigen materiaal inblikken voor zo diverse labels als Chess, Roulette, Atco, Spivey, Laurie, Blue Labor, L&R en JSP.

Zijn nieuwste, “No Turn On Red”, verscheen onlangs bij het gerespecteerde Hightone. Op die plaat roept hij in het goede gezelschap van producer Bob Corritore de geest op van zijn beste dagen. Op zijn negenenzestigste klinkt Louisiana Red vitaler dan ooit. Mede dankzij voortreffelijk scheurharpwerk van Corritore, stuwende pianobijdragen van Matt Bishop en gedegen gitaarinterventies van Johnny Rapp en Buddy Reed groeit “No Turn On Red” uit tot een beestig goede plaat. Traditionele blues met een hoofdletter B in met een hoog anno nu-gehalte! Het kan een contradictio in terminis lijken, maar dat is het zeker niet. Red schreeuwt, gromt, klaagt en jammert dat het een lieve lust is en martelt ondertussen zijn gitaar als een jonge loopse hond. Waardig ouder worden heet zoiets, geloven we …

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