Blues Bytes


December 2020

Floyd Jones and Eddie Taylor
Masters of Modern Blues, Vol. 3

Testament Records

Floyd Jones - Eddie Taylor

I get a lot of CDs to review each month, which is why you might be reading reviews of albums that are six or seven months old. I try to review everything that comes my way.

Anyway, sometimes I want to hear some music that I don’t necessarily have to review, so I will occasionally visit a used record store a couple of hours from where I live. A few months ago, I decided to visit and was rewarded with a veritable treasure trove of older recordings, including the entire four-volume set of Testament Records’ Masters of Modern Blues series. I will be reviewing each of these albums over the next few months here at Blues Bytes, but will begin with the first set that I picked up, featuring Floyd Jones and Eddie Taylor.

When I first started listening to the blues I discovered that I really enjoyed ’50s-era Chicago Blues --- Muddy, the Wolf, Little Walter, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, etc.That led me to dig deeper into that particular brand of blues, and in the process I discovered some of the lesser known artists like Floyd Jones. I first heard him singing “Dark Road” on the Chess Records collection, Drop Down Mama, and it blew me away. That particular piece came from deep down in his soul, and I soon discovered that he performed his other songs with that same intensity. His songs were pretty downbeat for the most part, adopting a gloomy tone, but it was the blues as pure as it gets.

Eddie Taylor is probably best known as the rhythm guitarist behind the great Jimmy Reed on his Vee-Jay recordings, but he recoded his own sides for Vee-Jay during that time and some of his songs are considered standards today. Ever heard “Big Town Playboy” or “Bad Boy” in a modern-day blues band’s repertoire? Though he never was as popular as Reed or any of the other artists he backed in those days (John Lee Hooker, Snooky Pryor, Elmore James, John Brim among them), he was an important part of the Chicago bleus sound during the ’50s and early ’60s.

I’m not really sure, but I think their set was Volume 3 of the Masters series. Testament Records was founded by Pete Welding, who recorded blues, jazz, country, and gospel artists over about a 15-year period. He gave numerous artists an opportunity to record when they otherwise might have never had, especially in the ’60s, a fairly lean time for recording blues. Two of my favorite blues recordings are collections from Testament featuring slide guitarists (Down Home Slide) and old school harmonica players (Down Home Harp).

The Jones/Taylor session was recorded in June 1966 at One-derful Studios in Chicago, with eight songs from Jones and eight from Taylor, and featured one of the most impressive bands that could have been assembled at that time. Jones played bass and Taylor guitar on all the tracks, but check out this band providing support --- Otis Spann on piano, Big Walter Horton on harmonica, and Fred Below on drums! An all-star band if there ever was one!

Jones’ sides include two versions of “Dark Road” (one previously unreleased prior to the CD age), both as intense as his original waxing. There are also new versions of “Stockyard Blues” and “Hard Times.” All of his sides pretty much hold to his usual method of operation with their somber tone, but “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” is more lively and shows that he’s also pretty adept at the upbeat music. Taylor also updates his best-known songs, “Bad Boy” (with an alternate take included) and “Big Town Playboy,” and also offers fine performances of other tracks, like “Feel So Bad,” “Train Fare Home,” and “After Hours.”

Both men weren’t finished recording, though. Floyd Jones did appear on a wonderful set from Earwig Records in the early ’80s, Old Friends, where he shared billing with Honeyboy Edwards, Sunnyland Slim, Big Walter Horton, and Kansas City Red. He also continued to actively perform in the Chicago area until he passed away in 1989.

Taylor recorded several albums in the ’70s and early ’80s that showed he was still a force to be reckoned with, but he passed away on Christmas Day in 1985 . He had several children --- the late guitarist Eddie Taylor, Jr., drummer Larry Taylor and singer Demetria Taylor (as well as his late wife Vera) who were all formidable blues talents in their own right.

Fans of vintage Chicago blues, especially the less familiar ’60s era recordings, will love the Masters of Modern Blues series, and Volume 3 of the set is a fine introduction to Floyd Jones and Eddie Taylor, two fine musicians that they might not have heard previously.

--- Graham Clarke




[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]


The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: December 10, 2020 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2020, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.