I’ve now been an avid music listener for more than half a century, since I was in grade school. But somehow, in all those years, I never managed to acquaint myself with the Mississippi Sheiks. Never even heard of ’em (though it turns out I’ve long had a track by them buried in my collection, on the terrific four-disc Roots ‘n’ Blues: The Retrospective).
Anyway, I’m making up for lost time, thanks to a wonderful new tribute album, Things About Comin’ My Way. Turns out the Sheiks–consisting of brothers Sam, Lonnie, and Armenter Chatmon along with Walter Vinson—recorded nearly 100 singles between 1930 and 1935. Their most famous song, “Sitting on Top of the World” (yes, I knew that one!) has been recorded by Cream and many other artists. That one’s here, in a spirited version by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, along with new versions of 16 other Mississippi Sheiks classics by Bill Frisell, Bob Brozman, John Hammond, Geoff Muldaur, and others. These are consistently fine performances of timeless country blues and a fitting tribute to a group that—as Bob Dylan once said on his Theme Time Radio Hour—”will really put the screws to ya.”