Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Eddie Peabody has a new CD out!!!
To my delight I am able to review a "new" CD offering by "The King Of The Banjo", Eddie Peabody, who has at last been included on a modern CD label. "Banjo Boogie Beat" is a double CD of Eddie’s DOT albums "The Man With The Banjo", "When You’re Smiling" "Me And My Banjo" and ""Favourites By Mr. Banjo Himself". The albums, originally recorded from 1955 onwards, kick off with Eddie’s signature "St. Louis Blues" and to my relief the original acoustic sound of the recording have not been tweaked or tampered with by the digital transfer process. I have all of these albums on LP vinyl but it certainly is nice to have these without surface noise, without having to keep changing over sides and with the benefit of modern CD playback quality.
Eddie was on top of his musical game in the 50’s and was, unlike many of his 1920’s Vaudeville contemporaries, still earning a good living entertaining live audiences, doing TV and Radio shows and churning out album after album for DOT. His Electric Banjoline also makes appearances on this album and it is notable that the backing musicians are playing in (1950’s) "pop" style, rather than trying to recreate the sounds of the 1920’s and 30’s so one could guess that either Eddie, or the record producer, was also aiming at the modern market of the day rather than retro nostalgia. When one thinks that Elvis was making his first records in the mid 1950’s it is interesting to listen to the sounds of the day that they both embraced – for example lots of echo on the lead voice/instrument, a heavy back-beat snare drum, a Rock ‘n Roll style piano, incorporating electric instruments etc. For a man in his mid 50’s, Eddie was certainly trying to keep up with the music tastes of the day and his later albums of Latin rhythms and his "Smoothies" (what would become known as Easy Listening) was a quantum leap from his early recordings of the 1920’s with vocalist Arthur Hall!
I also noted that the sound of his banjos were slightly different on these albums. I’m guessing that his earlier album "Man With The Banjo" had a Vega Vox with a calf skin head and was set up a little differently to his later instruments, as he is playing cleanly with very little plectrum slap on the head. My personal favourite was "When Day Is Done", a favourite of Paul Whiteman, and which Eddie includes the beautiful verse. One thing that does become clear is that Eddie always clearly stating the melody. I remember Earl Scruggs saying in his book that his mother told him to always do the same when he played banjo.
Jasmine Records has included 52 titles on this double album and they must be applauded for offering this style of banjo to a modern audience. It takes money to produce such an album - and you never know where one of these re-issued tracks may end up to create a renaissance...a TV or Radio advertisement, background in a film score, a popular ringtone etc, stranger things have happened! In general it does present "our" style of banjo music to the general public who has very little idea of what a banjo without that fifth string actually sounds like.
Well done to producer Sam Hick and Jasmine Records for faith and investment in Eddie Peabody and his music.
(c) Sean Moyses, December 2013.
www.seanmoyses.com and www.eddiepeabody.com