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Less than a decade after he was "discovered" by Library of Congressfolklorist Alan Lomax, "Mississippi" Fred McDowell sat down with GeorgeMitchell to record these 11 tracks. But, as McDowell ably demonstrates, no discoverywas necessaryFred knew where he was the whole time. The locale, friends,was in the north Mississippi hill countryPanola County, to be exactnottoo far from the Stuckey's service station where Fred pumped gas five daysa week.
Down in Panola County, folks still call the late McDowell "Shake EmOn Down" after his trademark song. Wonder why? Drop this disc in your CDplayer, and turn it up real loud. Hear that chunky rhythm overlaid with a meanslide lick? That's pure "Mississippi" Fred, all slash and dronein the raw music style favored by the likes of R.L. Burnside, Jessie Mae Hemphill,and other purveyors of that fine hill country sound.
These George Mitchell sessions are specialnot only because they featurethe late Johnny Woods, harp player and whiskey drinker extraordinairebutbecause they capture McDowell at his frenetic best, playing the "straightand natchel blues" that he loved. Compare this album to I Do Not PlayNo Rock 'n' Roll, recorded in the studio two years laterwhetheror not you've ever stepped foot in the Magnolia State, you can perceptiblyfeel the difference. Here, Fred plays for his buddiesand for himself.He's rough, gritty, and loud enough to transcend the sounds of the crapsgame going on underfoot. And that, friends, is the best music there is.