Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup - Sunny Road
Review by Willard Manus

Arthur Crudup (1905-74) was a Mississippi-born, Chicago-based bluesman who was one of Elvis Presley's favorite singers and composers. Elvis made famous three of Big Boy's songs, Mean Old Frisco, So Glad You're Mine and That's All Right, and made sure the latter earned royalties from them. Crudup, who worked with Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson, had a measure of fame himself in the 50s and 60s, fronting his own band and recording for Delmark.

Now Delmark has released for the first time a studio album by Crudup (pronounced "crude-up") which has sat unnoticed in the company vaults since 1969. On SUNNY ROAD Crudup sings nine of his own songs, backed up by such stalwart musicians as guitarists Jimmy Dawkins and Mike Thompson; bassist Mark Thompson; and Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith, drums. On a tenth track Crudup is heard arguing with Delmark's owner, Bob Koester, who wanted him to sing an uptempo number.

"I can't do it," Crudup replies. "I can't crank my motor up. I've got blues on my mind."

There was a good reason for that statement: Crudup's wife had died recently, leaving him bereft. "Why'd you take her from me?" he wails on All I Got is Gone, "She was the onliest woman I ever loved."

SUNNY ROAD is packed with much heartfelt pain and loss, but there are some bawdy, life-affirming tunes as well, especially She Gives Me a Thrill, which is all about a girl "who is sixteen years of age, Lord, but she got old ideas!"