Review ·

In the 2002 blues documentary You See Me Laughin', Mississippian T-Model Ford appears with tales of a tough, abusive upbringing. His story of how he came to play the blues is pure legendar: His woman left him, and he sat alone in his little room, and took to staring at a guitar he had in a corner. One day he decided to learn to play, and since then, his raw, good-natured raunch has been one of the highlights of the delta blues party/club/festival/juke circuit. The Ladies Man, then, delivers the raw goods you’d expect. The twist this time around is that the 88-year-old is stepping out only with an acoustic guitar. The results are no less raucous.

“Chicken Head Man,” I’m Coming To Kick Yer Ass,” “I Was Born In A Swamp” and “Hip Shaking Woman” all belong on a greatest-hits package, although I also keep a special place in my heart for “44 Blues” and “Two Trains.” Since the blues is built off of a repetititve structure, it is the emotion and tone that lets an artist carve his niche. T can’t read or write, so his tuning is unique, his own variation on the blues form, which is easy to digest and adapt. Ford’s niche is a distorted, leering, kinda menacing vibe that makes even his boasts sound probable.

The Ladies Man was recorded in a one-take afternoon session at Planet Sound in Wichita, Kan. This spontaneous, let-it-rip-and-move-on way is typical of T-Model Ford ‘s style. He doesn’t sound like he is in a hurry, but he also doesn’t seem to want to waste time on what he’s already said. Ford likes his blues, his women, his money, and his late-in-life fame. You’d think an acoustic record from a blues man would be a bit risky, but most likely he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way -- or given a shit if anyone else did.

 

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