“Well, well, well…” as R.L. would say.

R.L. Burnside’s sole live album, Burnside on Burnside, from 2001, is our September selection for our Record of the Month Club. Fat Possum has pressed up 500 copies of the album on limited, blue vinyl and we secured a nice chunk for our ROTM Club.

Club Members will also have a chance at getting a free copy of the new Wildsam Oxford guidebook. Wildsam sent us 50 copies to randomly include with ROTM Club shipments. Folks that don’t get a book will get one of our “Capitalists Asshats” koozies…only seems right. All records will ship with a Fat Possum sticker as well.

Burnside on Burnside is a cooker of an album featuring R.L.’s grandson, Cedric Burnside, on drums, and R.L.’s “adopted son,” Kenny Brown, on guitar. A must own record in our opinion.

From Pop Matters:

R.L. Burnside was born on November 23, 1926, in Oxford, Mississippi. A little over a year younger than B.B. King, Burnside sat out the post-WWII northward migration that swept up many notable bluesmen, taking fellow Mississippians John Lee Hooker to Detroit and King himself, most famously, to Chicago. Burnside has spent much of his life as a farmer and fisherman, but hes also amassed a reputation as a formidable practitioner of Delta hill country blues, the kind of music that fills back-country bars and juke joints throughout the south. Picked up by iconoclastic blues label Fat Possum, Burnside has, over the past decade, attracted wider attention among young, urban, white audiences in much the same way that urban folkies in the late 50s helped introduce the blues to the masses. Burnside gives no quarter, playing with an intensity that belies both his age and the old-timey label country blues.

That reductive description fails as adequate preparation for the sheer uplift ofBurnside on Burnside, recorded in January of 2001 mainly at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR (located on Burnside Street, thus the title) with four tracks from a show three days later in San Francisco. The albums electrifying, hypnotic songs are hard to shake; Burnsides long-time band mates his grandson Cedric Burnside on drums and his adopted son, Kenny Brown, on lead guitar perfectly accompany the rhythm guitar and gritty vocals that Burnside himself provides. The opening track, Shake Em on Down, also begins Burnsides second album,Too Bad Jim(1994), and its a freight train of a song: two guitars and drums locked in a tight groove that could unspool through the night without, seemingly, tiring either the players or the listener. Skinny Woman and Miss Maybelle continue the bands driving sound, as do the traditional Rollin & Tumblin’ (If the river was whiskey and I was a diving duck / Id dive to the bottom, drink my way back up) and Long Haired Doney.

Burnside finally takes a little break, to joke about having a drink of tomato juice (cause after tonight Im not gonna drink anymore unless Im by myself or either with somebody). These first breakneck songs are all similar, with a stomping beat, stinging slide guitar, and a churning rhythm, but that doesnt mean they sound the same. Details vary, and the point here isnt innovation anyway, its fun; the blues can be about turning heartache into an expression of joy, a point thats proved on the first part ofBurnside on Burnside. The drum-free Walkin Blues reaches back for a more traditional country blues approach, after which Burnside tells a long joke about paternity that can probably be skipped after the first hearing. The quieter tone continues on Bad Luck and Trouble (I begged for a nickel / Oh Lord, to put in the telephone / I wanna talk to my baby / You know she been gone so long) but doesnt last long: Jumper on the Line returns to the freight train chug of the albums beginning, and Burnside is off.

Goin Down South slows down slightly but turns up the pathos, achieving a feeling of menace that compares to some of John Lee Hookers famous work. Alice Mae and the lengthy closing track, Snake Drive, are more than satisfying as an encore. What Burnside carries with him is an air of countrified authenticity that has found an audience in irony-drenched hipsters more used to the meta-blues of Jon Spencer. Burnsides music contains the kind of fire and passion that puts most artists decades his junior to shame, andBurnside on Burnsidecaptures that passion with remarkable clarity.