Legacy: Rare and Unreleased Recordings, 1962-2002
Red House Records has delivered a defining document for Minneapolis guitarist, singer, and songwriter Dave "Snaker" Ray (of the pioneering blues and folk trio Koerner, Ray and Glover). Conceived, curated, produced, and painstakingly annotated by Tony "Little Sun" Glover, this set compiles 55 tracks recorded over 40 years. This project is welcome because even though most of the Koerner, Ray and Glover material has been reissued, the vast majority of Ray's solo work is out of print. This collection was sourced from private tapes, radio airchecks, and soundboard and studio recordings, issued and outtakes. It features him in a variety of settings, electric and acoustic, from solo to full band, often with only Glover. The fidelity varies widely, but it's hardly a concern, all of it is listenable and utterly fascinating. In many cases, the most primitive stuff is the best. Disc one covers 1962-1987. This material showcases an artist so inspired by the rawness of the Delta blues that he was obsessed with re-creating its spirit, though this would change markedly as he developed. Check the long half-sung/half-spoken original "Hot Rod Terraplane" played on a 12-string; the truly manic cover of Lead Belly's "Fannin Street"; the electric readings of Muddy Waters' "Louisiana Blues," and Rufus Thomas' "Walking the Dog," for reference. Disc two, 1988-1994, saw a resurgence for Ray and Glover. Many of the cuts here are from excellent efforts the pair released for RCA, Rough Trade, and Tim Kerr, as well as live gigs. Ray's playing and singing are more slippery, less forceful, and even more compelling. Highlights include the live, choogling "Goin' Down Slow," the title track from Ashes in My Whiskey, "Long Hair Doney," from The Picture Has Faded, the original "Temple's Cure" from a rare 45, and a live take on Memphis Slim's " Mother Earth," a wooly, electric band number from an album by his Three Bedroom Ramblers entitled "I Made a Mistake," which showcases his most mature guitar style. The final disc covers Ray's last seven years. Several cuts are taken from the Tim Kerr-issued One Foot in the Gutter, including the amazing version of Percy Mayfield's "My Mind Is Trying to Leave Me." A wonderfully weird track is the Ray/Glover live cover of "Trust in Me," from Disney's The Jungle Book played at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis. There are full band tunes like the jazz-jump "It Should Have Been Me," and the stretched R&B of "Take Time to Know Her." Bobby Womack's "It's All Over Now" is thoroughly reinvented in Ray's image, while the poignant "Almost As If" is from a live show just 26 days before his death, and showcases his complete evolution as a writer, singer, and guitarist. Legacy isn't just for Ray's fans, but for anybody interested in the enduring relevance of American roots music. Tony Glover has gained himself a place in the highest of heavens for his work here.