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MP3 Odell Harris - Searching for Odell Harris

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The most exciting Mississippi hill country blues artist to come along since R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. Destined to become a classic.

12 MP3 Songs
BLUES: Delta Style, BLUES: Country Blues

Fans of ragged, heavily amplified country blues, take note: Searching for Odell Harris, is now available!

Harris is a 66-year-old singer and electric blues guitarist from the hills of North Mississippi. His music shares much in common with that of his late friends, R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. But he also was influenced as a young man by the blues of his uncle-by-marriage Albert King and his cousin William Bell, who went on to become a soul legend at Stax Records in the 1960s and 1970s. Harrisâ sound manages to marry the primal hill-funk of the Burnside/Kimbrough nexus and the greasy strut of a century of coarse Memphis blues.

The 12 tracks that make up Searching for Odell Harris range from gripping solo performances of blues standards like â.44 Blues,â âLaughing To Keep From Cryingâ and âSitting on Top of the World,â to raucous band performances featuring support from Mississippi native Bill Abel on guitar and Steve Lightninâ Malcolm on drums and bass. Abel has backed everyone from David âHoneyboyâ Edwards and Henry Townsend to Sam Carr and Big George Brock. Malcolm has worked extensively with Jimbo Mathus, the Burnside Exploration and such elder statesmen of the blues as T Model Ford, Cedell Davis, Robert Belfour and Jimmy âDuckâ Holmes.

Searching for Odell Harris was recorded during a single all-night recording session on the gulf coast of Mississippi. The name of the disc alludes to Harrisâ legendary elusiveness. He rarely performs in spaces more public than a friendâs living room or front porch.

The CD is the first for Harris and the second for the label, which made waves earlier this year with the release of Back to Bentonia by Jimmy âDuckâ Holmes.


Searching for Odell Harris is profiled on the cover of the new Red Lick catalog. For those who don't know Red Lick, it's a mammoth mail order company in the UK that supplies blues and related music to customers all over Europe.

Here's what they had to say about Searching for Odell Harris:

Odell Harris
Searching for Odell Harris
Broke & Hungry BH13002

Odell Harris is one bluesman that Fat Possum didnât find, but if they had got to him first, I think theyâd have been proud to produce a CD that sounds like this.

Whereâs he from? Heâs a secretive type who, once every blue moon, performs at some back country blues joint or a local barbecue but more often than not contents himself with playing on the back porches of neighbours and friends. Iâm not sure if heâs ever been recorded before but I seem to have heard the name â maybe on one of those obscure Flyright field-trip country blues releases. The notes give no clue as to his origins but he does tend to play in the style of the Mississippi hill country musicians. âHill Funk,â for instance, is an instrumental full of choppy, over-amplified guitar licks slapped over bill Abelâs funky, angular guitar ramblings, and thatâs Lightninâ Malcolm walloping the hell out of the snare drum. Itâs certainly a funky work out with Odell changing the mood all the time.

At times, thereâs an odd nod to Mississippi Fred McDowell and, like him, Odell obviously learned his blues from records because you can also detect the influences of Skip James, Howlinâ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Junior Kimbrough. Odell certainly picks his music well. Junior Parkerâs rollicking âThe Train I Rideâ is driven along by Abelâs more-than-able second guitar and olâ Malcolmâs locomotive drums while Odell tears along at full speed with a neat appropriation of McDowellâs chugalug rhythm â youâll recognize it when you hear it.

Bo Diddleyâs âBefore You Accuse Meâ is transformed into a clanging, coagulated country reel and â.44 Bluesâ comes across as a menacing, threatening piece intensified by Harrisâ haunting, high-pitched vocals. His take on Luther Johnsonâs âOn Your Way Fishingâ is a gem â lascivious vocals croaking out the lyrics while he gets to work with some chunky picking and Abel rumbles away with his hypnotic rhythm guitar. Kimbroughâs âAll Night Longâ finds the spot with the drummer hitting heavy on the offbeat while Odell and Bill weave their way through the dark, meandering guitar lines. Thereâs little vocal work here but it makes a ripping version of a new Mississippi blues standard. âSomeday Babyâ is a real bruising juke joint piece with slamming drums and aggressive guitar. Another high spot, in complete contrast, is Odellâs lovely, relaxed version of Joe Callicotâs âLaughing to Keep From Cryingâ â a simple, easy going performance with heartfelt vocals and crisp guitar.

This is raw and ragged â exactly the way electric back porch country blues should be. Broke & Hungry thought theyâd made a grave error when they agreed to record this CD in a local blues club after hours. It was a tough session with the lubricated audience occasionally getting in the way and numerous other disruptions, like Odell forgetting that he had to sing into the microphone . . . but then, at around 4 a.m., something magical emerged from the chaos. The crowd got quiet, the musicians found a common groove and this terrific recording was made. Jeff Konkelâs short but sharp sleeve notes describe the whole episode deliciously. This kind of blues is getting harder to find. Itâs the real thing.

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