Champion Jack Dupree: Blues From The Gutter

By James Calemine

Orphaned at an early age, Champion Jack Dupree grew up in New Orleans. Dupree spent most of his time in the mean streets and music joints playing his piano. Blues From The Gutter represents one of Jack Dupree’s finest recordings.

Tom Dowd recorded this ten song selection with the production assistance of the great Jerry Wexler. These songs were all written by Dupree. “Strollin’” highlights Dupree’s dexterity on the piano. Ennis Lowry’s blues guitar and Pete Brown’s alto sax accompany Dupree’s lyrical narrative on “T.B. Blues”.

“Can’t Kick This Habit” could run as the soundtrack to any junkie’s life: “Well I can’t kick this habit/And this junk is killing me”. No pseudo blues exists on this lowdown classic. Dupree once said: “My songs tell about my experiences in life or what I saw in the lives of other people.”

“Evil Woman” conjures up a Saturday night rave-up in an old juke joint where the only lights in the place are red or blue, just as the ladies begin to unleash a jinxing mojo on an unsuspecting victim. “Nasty Boogie Woogie” remains an infectious piano roll, as Dupree sings “Mama bought a chicken mistook it for a duck/Laid it on the table with its legs stuck up/Yonder come the children with a spoon and a glass/Gonna catch the gravy drippin’ yes yes yes”.

“Junker’s Blues” proves one of the most insightful and funny songs ever composed on the medicinal and illegal problems cannabis sativa brings. These songs were composed during a time when the rock and roll craze hit the States, but Dupree’s lyrics proved far too close-to-the-bone for mass consumption in 1958. Jack Dupree ranks as one of the first great rock and rollers. Blues From the Gutter stands as one of the most grittiest blues-jazz-rock & roll albums of all time.