What’s in a name? In Lowell Fulson’s case, plenty! During his long and storied career he recorded under his own name as well as Lowell Fullsom and Lowell Fulsom. Done so for business reasons, there was no hiding his true identity once he began to sing and play. An Oklahoma native, Fulson grew up with equal doses of Bob Wills and Texas blues and soon became the leading proponent of the West Coast blues sound. A triple threat as a singer/writer/guitar player, Fulson recorded for many labels, notably Swing Time, Chess/Checker, Kent and Rounder. His numerous hits included “Reconsider Baby,” “Lonesome Christmas,” “Tramp” (famously covered by Carla and Rufus Thomas), “Three O’Clock Blues” and “Everyday I Have The Blues.” His influence on his peers and subsequent generations of musicians is incalculable.
Upon signing with Chess Records in 1954, Fulson recorded “Reconsider Baby” under the direction of Stan Lewis in Dallas, Texas. One of the horn players on the session, saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman, became a major star in his own right. Though the hits temporarily dried up in the latter part of his Chess/Checker career, a move to Kent Records in 1965 sparked a chart resurgence. Hitting in rapid succession with “Black Nights,” “Tramp,” “Make a Little Love” and “I’m a Drifter,” Fulson firmly reestablished his dominance of the genre, winning over a new generation of fans coming to the blues through the Rolling Stones, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Cream and other blues rock acolytes.
Taking a break from Kent, Fulson reunited with Lewis to record a new album, In a Trick Bag, as “Lowell Fulsom.” Released on Lewis’ Shreveport, Louisiana-based Jewel Records, it is heavy, indeed! Album opener “Look at You Baby” throws out sharp, piercing leads that would make Albert Collins shudder. Right on its heels is a wickedly salacious cover of the Beatles “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.” The guitar tones on “Don’t Destroy Me” percolate with such deep distortion that it surely shook Jimmy Page all night long and then some. Yet, throughout the album, the most powerful instrument is Fulson’s booming voice. Singing in a muscular, direct tone, it is easy to hear the effect he had on his one-time piano player, Mr. Ray Charles Robinson, aka Ray Charles.
Fulson continued to perform and record until illness slowed him shortly before his death in 1999. Across such a rich career, there are many defining moments and In a Trick Bag gathers eleven of those moments in one place. Sourced from the original Jewel analog tapes, this album is an immensely enjoyable listening experience from beginning to end.
1. Look at You Baby
2. Why Don’t We Do It in the Road
4. Lady in the Rain
5. My Baby
6. Man on the Run
7. Don’t Destroy Me
8. This Feeling
9. Trouble Everywhere
10. Cheating Woman
11. Man of Motion