Josh At Midnight (vinyl reissue)

Josh White

Ramseur Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Josh White (1914-1969) packed a lot of adventure and music into his 55 years of life. A practitioner of the Southern blues who branched out into gospel, country blues, and traditional folk, he was an early black artist who issued a number of protest songs. A friend of President Franklyn Roosevelt, for whom he gave a command performance at the White House in 1941, White was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era of the 1950s. He made a commercial comeback during the 1960s, and his music and style has influenced the generations of folk and blues singers who have followed.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Now, Ramseur Records will reissue what may be his finest album on August 19th. Josh At Midnight, originally released in 1956, is primarily of album of traditional folk songs from a Southern blues perspective.

It is a raw album with roots firmly entrenched in the Delta blues of the first half of the 20th century. Only one microphone was used during the recording session, and the only instrument besides White’s guitar is the bass of jazz musician Al Hall. The only other person involved here was vocalist Sam Gary. The remastering gives everything a clarity that is superior to the original vinyl release, though it is still primitive by today’s musical standards.

Nine of the 12 tracks are in the public domain, which fits White’s approach well. “Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho,” “Jelly Jelly,” “Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dyin’ Bed,” and “Takin’ Names” are fused into a blues style and sound. White does not perform the songs as much as he attacks them. There is passion and emotion that combines with harshness.

Josh At Midnight is a resurrection and re-introduction of an important musician who is often forgotten about in the 21st century. The fact that this has been reissued as a vinyl only release adds additional authenticity to the listening experience.

Rating: B+

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