Larry Davis – Funny Stuff (1982)

FrontCover1.jpgLarry Davis (December 4, 1936 – April 19, 1994) was an American electric Texas blues and soul blues musician. He is best known for co-writing the song “Texas Flood”, later recorded to greater commercial success by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Davis was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and was raised in England, Arkansas, and Little Rock, Arkansas. He swapped playing the drums to learn to play the bass guitar. In the mid-1950s, he had a working partnership with Fenton Robinson, and following the recommendation of Bobby Bland was given a recording contract by Duke Records. Davis had three singles released, which included “Texas Flood” and “Angels in Houston”. Thereafter, he had limited opportunity in the recording studio. He resided in St. Louis, Missouri, for a while, and played bass in Albert King’s group. He also learned to play the guitar at this time; the guitar on Davis’s recording of “Texas Flood” was by played by Robinson.

Several single releases on the Virgo and Kent labels followed, but in 1972 a motorcycle accident temporarily paralyzed Davis’s left side. He returned a decade later with an album released by Rooster Blues, Funny Stuff, produced by Oliver Sain. He won four W. C. Handy Awards in 1982, but a decade later he was known only to blues specialists.[3] His 1987 Pulsar LP, I Ain’t Beggin’ Nobody, was difficult even for blues enthusiasts to locate.

LarryDavis01In 1992, Bullseye Blues issued another album, Sooner or Later, highlighting his booming vocals and guitar playing influenced by Albert King.

Davis died of cancer in April 1994, at the age of 57. (by wikipedia)

 

Larry Davis didn’t record all that often, but when he did, he certainly made it count. That’s the case with this fine St. Louis recording. Produced by Oliver Sain (who handled all sax work) and featuring Billy Gayles on drums and pianist Johnnie Johnson, the set is a ringing endorsement of Davis’s slashing, tremolo-enriched guitar and booming vocals. (Bill Dahl)

Larry Davis grew up in Arkansas, working with Fenton Robinson in the mid-50s. He started recording for Duke in 1958 with “Texas Flood” (the original version by the way – and likely still the best.) He signed to Duke at the recommendation of Bobby Bland. Larry LarryDavis02recorded sporadically over the years and passed away in 1994.

Davis was an extraordinary talent. He had a tremendous voice, with a soft vibrato. He sang in the B.B. King, Little Joe Blue, Bobby Bland style. His biting single-not guitar work could be placed somewhere between the sounds of B.B. King and Son Seals. He had more edge in his playing than King, but it wasn’t as harsh as Seals. “Funny Stuff” was originally released in 1982, and was re-released on CD by Rooster Blues in 2001. This review is based on the 2001 version of the album. “Funny Stuff” is basically Larry Davis’ St. Louis album. All of the musicians on the album were St. Louis stalwarts. The cast of characters was: Oliver Sain on piano, organ and all saxes; Phil Westmoreland on guitar; Johnnie Johnson on piano; Billy Gayles on drums; Jimmy Hinds on bass and drums; Eugene Johnson on bass; and Don Smith on drums. The album has all the features of the St. Louis blues sounds, with a combination of raw emotion mixed with Uptown sensibilities. (East Side Slim, stlblues.net)

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Personnel:
Larry Davis (guitar, vocals)
Billy Gayles (drums on 03., 05., 09. + 10.)
Jimmy Hint (bass on 03., 05., 08. – 10., drums on 01., 06. – 08.)
Eugene Johnson (bass on 02. + 07.)
Johnnie Johnson (piano on 02., 04., 07. + 10.)
Oliver Sain (saxophone on 02. – 04., 07. – 09., organ, piano)
Don Smith (drums on 02.)
Phil Westmoreland (guitar, bass on 01., 04. + 06.)

on 05:
Johnny Johnson (piano on right channel)
Oliver Sain (piano – left channel)

LarryDavis03

Tracklist:
01. Funny Stuff (Sain) 3.40
02. Teardrops (Davis) 6.25
03. Next Time You See Me (Forest/Harvey) 3.36
04. Worried Dream (B.B.King) 5.02
05. Totsy (Davis) 3.07
06. Since I Been Loving You (Sain) 3.40
07. That Will Never Do (Campbell/Lyons) 3.06
08. Walk Out Like A Lady (Smith) 4.01
09. Find ‘Em, Fool ‘Em & Forget ‘Em (Jackson) 4.07
10. Got To Be Some Changes Made (A.King) 4.12

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