Lazy Lester Rides Again
ended a nearly two decade absence from the music
scene with his 1987 release, Lazy Lester Rides Again. Lester dropped off
the music scene in the early 60’s/late 70’s, and moved from Louisiana, the
location and source of his essential Excello Records output, to Pontiac,
Michigan, where he was eventually persuaded by Fred Reif to return. He recorded
the songs for ….Rides Again in England during a four-day session under
the productive efforts of legendary U.K. producer Mike Vernon. The session was
released in the U.K. by Blue Horizon and in the U.S. by King Snake Records.
The original release found Lester remaking
several of his earlier Excello classics, including
“Sugar Coated Love,” “The Same Thing Could Happen To
You,” “I Hear You Knockin’,” and “Irene.” He also
mixes a few new tunes as well (“Travelling Days,”
Jimmy Reed’s “Can’t Stand To See You Go,” the
standard, “St. Louis Blues,” and the instrumentals
“Lester’s Shuffle” and “Blowin’ A Rhumba”).
Considering his lengthy absence from performing, he
sounds great on vocals and harmonica, and he’s
backed capably by members of two U.K. bands at the
time, the Junkyard Angels and Blues N’ Trouble. The
whole session feels like it was relaxed and
unrushed, prime requirements for an ideal Lazy
Long out of print, Ace Records in the U.K. has
recently reissued this session, adding a whopping 11
additional tracks, which consists of several
alternate recordings of tunes on the album, plus two
previously unreleased tracks left off the intial
release (“I Ain’t Glad” and “Rockin’ With Lester”).
The alternate recordings are all fine, with the
occasional glitch or stumble, but otherwise sound
pretty much like what ended up on the final product.
Vernon adds exhaustive, and sometimes critical,
notes on the session in this expanded edition. The
two tracks that were left off the original release
are both well-done and probably could have been left
on the original with no problem.
Upon it’s initial release, Lazy Lester Rides
Again won the W.C. Handy Award for Contemporary
Blues Album of the Year (Foreign). From that point,
Lester was able to restart his performing and
recording career, cutting albums for Alligator and
Antone’s in the late ’80s and ’90s, and he is still
active today, when he’s not taking time off to fish.
If you’re a relatively new fan of his, you might
have missed ….Rides Again the first time
around, so here’s a good chance to catch up on some
quality Swamp Blues from a living legend.
--- Graham Clarke