Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cousin Joe of New Orleans

Pleasant Joseph, the New Orleans pianist, bluesman, and entertainer also known as Pleasant Joe, Brother Joshua, Smilin' Joe, but most commonly as Cousin Joe, was born in Wallace, Louisiana, west of New Orleans, in 1907; he died in the Crescent City in 1989. Joe was not a "deep" bluesman, but he was a clever songwriter and an entertaining performer. This 1973 album was made for ABC's blues subsidiary, BluesWay, with Joe at the piano and crack New Orleans rhythm section: Justin Adams on guitar, bassist George French, and drummer Alonzo Stewart. Blues piano giant Roosevelt Sykes even sits in on one number, although he isn't credited in the liner notes. There's an uncredited harmonica on "Love Sick Soul," and I suspect that it's the great Snooky Pryor, who made a BluesWay album with the same rhythm section around the same time.

Cousin Joe was quite the blues philosopher. Here are some of my favorite lines from the songs on this album:

"It takes two to tango; don't take but one to mess around." (from "Messin' Around")
"Life is a one-way ticket, and there ain't no second time around." (from "Life's a One Way Ticket.")
"According to ancient history, so it was told to me, it took a million years for nature to make a man from monkey. But it took a very short time for woman to make a monkey out of man." (from "Evolution Blues")

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