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September 2006

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Jeremy Spencer
Precious Little
Blind Pig Records

Jeremy Spencer

Rarely do you come across a blues record with the subtleties of blues so elegantly displayed like Jeremy Spencer has done with his new CD on Blind Pig records, Precious Little. Ably backed by a wonderful group of Norwegian musicians who are true to the old traditions, five days in Norway has produced a record that may very well earn Spencer a BMA nomination for comeback blues album of the year. Elegant in its simplicity, Precious Little is just a joy to listen to.

The sounds of slide guitar provide the opening licks to “Bitter Lemon.” What else can you do with bitter lemon except make lemonade? Sure times are tough and you don’t always get what you want, so take the bitter lemon….and “make sweet lemonade!” “Psychic Waste” has more of a Delta feel to it. We’ve all been exposed to too much television, newspapers, radio, etc. and the end result is an advance case of mind pollution. We’re better off to ignore the mind numbing effects of the media and learn to find out the truth for ourselves. A sax solo by Leif Winther highlights to call to arms to think for ourselves.

Spencer slows things way down with his rendition of the Elmore James classic, “It Hurts Me Too.” Melodic strains of slide guitar convey the pain that he feels at the injustices done to his lover and is complimented again by Winther on saxophone. The beauty of Spencer’s playing is in the intricacy of his fretwork, reflective of experiences gained over 35 years of playing. “Please Don’t Stop” has a rock-a-billy feel to it and is a cover of a Fabian original from the ’50s. Keyboards by Runar Boyesen contribute to the original ’50s feel as Spencer intones “Please don’t stop….making love to me!”

“Serene Serena” is a re-worked version of “Corrine Corrina” and is dedicated to a girl of the same name, an angel of mercy whom Spencer envisions as nursing a dying Bosnian soldier through his time of need. Contrasted with “Serene Serena” is the up tempo “Dr. J,” an ode to the magical healing talents of the infamous Dr. “Ask any woman…ask any woman in the neighborhood….if Dr. J can’t cure you, nobody’s going do you no good!”

“Understand a little loving…a little loving is all we need…in this stone cold world a misunderstanding can cause a heart to bleed” echoes the sad tones of Spencer’s resonator on another classic James tune, “Bleeding Heart”. The quality of the Norwegian musicians backing Jeremy cannot be understated. He notes, “In my opinion they retained the ‘purity’ of the old blues in their playing…..I can close my eyes as they play and imagine someone is playing back there in the 50’s….” Their outstanding musicianship permeates throughout the songs on this CD. This musicianship continues to shine on the instrumental “Many Sparrows.” Wonderful slide guitar accompanied by upright bass by Rune Endal and bass guitar by Roger Arntzen compliment the Delta feel Spencer achieves on this tune.

“Trouble and Woe” lets us know that we are all still searching for a glimmer of hope in what has become a crazy world. “Trouble everywhere you go….people looking for just a glimmer of hope….people try so hard to pretend….all they need is friend in this world of trouble and woe.” Fortunately this feeling of depression leaves us in “Maria de Santiago,” an instrumental original that Jeremy was encouraged to write lyrics for by producer Kjetil Draugedalen. Portrayed as a saint, Maria de Santiago inspires, “your invisible presence…I treasure next to my heart…you’ve been my muse…help me not to faint.”

Moving on to “Take and Give,” Spencer resurrects an obscure B-side recording by Slim Rhodes and gives it new legs. “We’ll be happy as long as we live and learn to take and give.” It’s a song that has stayed in the back of his mind for over 30 years and finally made it to the light of day. This wonderful record closes with the title track, “Precious Little”, a tribute to those who often feel ostracized for the courage of their convictions. “Precious little…..precious few…don’t worry because the majority doesn’t think like you…you’re one in a million but not one of the crowd…yet your whispered opinions speak so loud!”

Jeremy Spencer remains an enigma in American music lore. He left Fleetwood Mac in the early ’70s to join a religious cult and has followed the callings of his spirituality for all of his adult life. Fortunately he felt called to record Precious Little with a wonderful group of Norwegian musicians for Norway’s Bluestown Records, and luckily Blind Pig Records saw fit to release it in the United States. This record will be one of the sleepers for 2006 and showcases the talents of an artist that unfortunately we’ve heard all too little of.

--- Kyle Deibler


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