TBT – Robert Jr. Lockwood is a “Steady Rollin’ Man”
There are many names that stand tall in the pantheon of blues lore: Robert Johnson, Son House, and Muddy Waters loom large among them. Born in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, in 1915, Robert Jr. Lockwood stands just as tall, and looms just as large. The immortal Robert Johnson was a frequent house guest, living with Lockwood’s mother on and off for the better part of 10 years after his parents had divorced. Aside from the immense guitar knowledge that Lockwood acquired from Johnson, he also learned how to give a good performance, and keep the audience engaged.
Steady Rollin’ Man, on Delmark Records, was recorded on 12 & 13 August, 1970, and contains 14 breathtaking tracks, indulging the listener in 41 minutes of blues ecstasy. What makes this album all the more special is the that Lockwood’s “backing” band is none other than The Aces, consisting of Louis Myers on guitar, Dave Myers on bass, and Fred Below on drums. Legends in their own right among their peers long before this album was recorded, The Aces were renowned for their immense elegance and sophisticated playing.
Upon hearing the opening track, an alternate take of “Lockwood’s Boogie,” one might be tempted to think this is a jazz number, and it may well be just that, but Good Golly Miss Molly, it sounds so good. “Steady Rollin’ Man” features a great vocal from Lockwood, and the guitar lines are steady and confident throughout. “Take A Walk With Me” is a shuffle, executed perfectly. “Steady Groove (Instrumental)” features out-of-this-world-guitar, and a great, simple, funking groove. The level is musicianship on “Lockwood’s Boogie” is insanely good. “Rambling On My Mind” is presented here in a fuller, feistier version than the Robert Johnson version most might be familiar with. “Blues and Trouble” is a slow shuffle that showcases fine guitar tone and chording, with the guitar lines weaving in and around one another beautifully. “Worst Kind of Feeling” has an almost ’40s Big Band vibe to it with its comping chords, and “Can’t Stand The Pain” is just masterful; period, exclamation point!
Steady Rollin’ Man is absolutely priceless on so many levels. As a snapshot of consummate blues musicianship, it sets a high bar against which other performances can be judged, even now, today. As a documentation of the warmth, charm, and skill of both Robert Jr. Lockwood, and The Aces, this album is to be cherished as the treasure that it is. Steady Rollin’ Man, by Robert Jr. Lockwood and The Aces should be required listening for every blues fan.