Artie Blues Boy White
Artie "Blues Boy" White
White was born April 16, 1937 in Vicksburg, Ms. Like many blues singers he started with Gospel and sang with a spiritual group, The Harps Of David, at the age of 11 prior to coming to Chicago in 1956. White continued to sing gospel, now with the Full Gospel Wonders. White switched over to blues in the early 1960s. Over the next two decades, he recorded a number of singles with independent labels such as P&M, Gamma, and Al Tee. Titles include "Gimme Some Of Yours", "Lookin' For A Good Time", "Love Like Yours (Is Hard To Find)", "Rough Enough", "She's The One" & "Bad Intentions". White briefly reached #99 on the R & B charts with "You Are My Leanin' Tree" in 1977. But it wasn't until 1984 that he recorded his first full-length album for Ronn Records called "Blues Boy" that reprised his smash "Leanin' Tree". The LP made more noise with the popular singles "Jimmie" and "Chain Of Fools". Artie adopted "Blues Boy" as part of his name. He then signed with Ichiban in 1987 and waxed six fine sets in the soul-blues vein- two of which even charted on Billboard's R & B charts. In an era when synthesizers and fleeting drum program sounds dominated black music, Artie produced soulful blues with real musicians. When Ichiban closed shop Artie was signed to a three-album deal with Waldoxy, a Malaco affiliate. After three albums with Waldoxy Artie started his own label (Achilltown) and released four albums prior to his death.
"Blues Boy" (Ronn 1985)
1. Warm Room
*** First long-player by White is outstanding modern soul blues. Here he reprises his calling card "Leanin' Tree" and does riveting versions of Aretha Franklin's "Chain Of Fools" and Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away". The set opens with a memorable original by White, "Warm Room". The song "Jimmie" by Little Beaver was another minor hit for the acclaimed singer. White also excels at Southern Soul as proven by his flawless reading of ZZ Hill's "I Need Someone" and Bob Jones/Paul Richmond's "Turned Out" is a terrific disco-fied dancer.
"Nothing Takes The Place Of You" (Ichiban 1987)
Wondering How You Keep Your Man
**1/2 First outing for Ichiban Records is only a teaser for better things to come. Here he reprises two cuts from his Ronn disc (ZZ Hill's "I Need Someone" & the classic "Funny How Times Slips Away") and gives an understated treatment to Toussaint McCall's "Nothing Takes The Place Of You". Artie also throws down some fine blues shuffles ("Lies I Want To Hear", "Wonderin' How You Keep Your Man") where he really shines. There's very few artists like Artie "Blues Boy" White today.
"Where It's At" (Ichiban 1988)
1. Too Weak to
*** Album number 2 is a slight improvement with Artie co-writing three songs with one of his favorite writers, Travis Haddix. "I Dig My Gig", "Nobody Wants You When You're Old And Grey" & "Day Or Two" are all Grade A blues cuts. White adds little to three classics ("God Bless Our Love", "Where It's At" & Clarence Carter's "Too Weak To Fight") but sings them well . The LP also has one fine original blues by White called "One Woman Man".
"Thangs Got To Change" (Ichiban 1989)
1. Thangs Got to
**** Little Milton, an obvious influence on Artie's style, is on board to add guitar and several songs to this project. Milton's own "Rainy Day", "Thangs Got To Change" & "Hattie Mae" are all done brilliantly by Artie, Campbell and band. Horn-filled and tight performances mixed with Artie's urban phrasing. You get a six-piece horn section and poppin' rhythm backing a real deal blues belter. White is also credited as co-writer on two more cuts with Milton ("Somebody's On My Case" & "I Wonder Why"). It all sounds like a great Little Milton meets BB King as sung by Artie White affair. Satisfying! Gotta love that outfit he's wearing too!
"Tired Of Sneaking Around" (Ichiban 1990)
1. Today I Started
***** His best album. Travis Haddix is the perfect writer for Artie White. This time there are five Haddix compositions on this inspired disc ("Jodie", "Thinking About Making A Change", "Peeping Tom", "Turn About Is Fair Play" & "Nose To The Grindstone"). Another highlight is "Don't Pet My Dog" by Bob Jones. One of the keys to Artie's success here and further discs is his tight rhythm section named the "Machine Company" (Larry Williams, Ronnie Hicks, Lester Holmes & Kenny Hampton) and lots of horns that give the album a big band feel. Because Artie is backed by real musicians and unadorned production values this disc sounds as contemporary today as it did in 1990. The album also charted #74 on Billboards Top 100 R & B Albums Chart.
"Dark End Of The Street" (Ichiban 1991)
1 Tore Up
***1/2 Solid follow up to "Sneaking Around" features more crisp, brassy blues sung masterfully by White. This time he does ripping covers of "Tore Up" and BB King's "Darlin' You Know I Love You". Once again the albums best moments come via the pen of Travis Haddix. The comical "Nite Before Payday" has White complaining he only gets lovin' from his woman the "nite before payday". On "I'm Mean" White says he's so bad that if he and a bear were scrapping you better help the bear! Another frequent contributor Bob Jones offers "Clock Don't Tick". This album also charted #95 on Billboards Top 100 R & B Albums Chart.
"The Best Of Artie White" (Ichiban 1991)
1. Today I Started Loving You
*** This twelve song compilation of White's Ichiban material really isn't the "Best Of". This collection concentrates too much on his pleasant readings of classic soul songs like "Dark End Of The Street" rather than the terrific original blues nuggets (mostly by Haddix) that adorn his catalog. We get a few solid blues cuts like "Jodie" & "Hattie Mae" but this just doesn't live up to the record's title. For a better sampler of White's Ichiban material see "American Roots: Blues".
"Hit And Run" (Ichiban 1992)
**** Final album for Ichiban Records is another winner once again punctuated by the Machine Co.'s rhythm section and great songs by Haddix, Little Milton, Bob Jones and White himself. Highlights include the title track (Jones), "Doctor Doctor" (Haddix), which was later covered by Charles Wilson and White's own tender "I'm A Lonely Man". Once again the sound is crisp and timeless. The epitome of urban blues- horns, bass, throaty singing and style. Of the many artists on Ichiban's label in the 80s & 90s Artie White's discs stand out the most.
"Different Shades Of Blue" (Waldoxy 1994)
I'm Gonna Marry My Mother-In-Law
*** White is now on Waldoxy and is served more excellent material by great writers like George Jackson ("I've Been Shackin;", "Hot Wired My Heart" & "All In The Open Now"), Bob Johnson & Sam Mosley ("Did Alright By Myself") and John Ward, who later started his own label Ecko Records. In fact the two highest of the highlights are his, the funky "Willie Mae Don't Play" & the risque' "I'm Gonna Marry My Mother-In-Law"- both of which got some airplay. Artie's mother-in-law fixes the food he wants to eat, rubs his aching back, does all the things his wife apparently does not do. So much for the evil in-law premise!
"Home Tonight" (Waldoxy 1997)
1. Your Man Is Home Tonight
*** Another solid outing with Roger Troutman's "Your Man Is Home Tonight", Travis Haddix' "Man Of The House", Percy Strother's "If You Don't Love Me" & more...On the humorous "Black Cat Scratchin'" Artie gets laid off from his job and suddenly he hears something scratchin' on his window every morning. She says it's a just an alley cat but this "cat" wears a size thirteen shoe and is six feet tall.... that's "awful strange". Another bonus is Bobby Rush joins Artie to play some blues harp on "The More You Lie To Me".
"Can We Get Together" (Waldoxy 1999)
1. Can We Get Together
**** 3rd for Waldoxy and overall his 10th album of new material in 15 years and he's yet to put out a poor one! The album kicks off with a White original, the southern soul head-bobber "Can We Get Together" followed by the slow blues "How Long" (Mosley & Johnson). We also get three fine tunes from guitarist Chico Banks who has been a major ingredient on many Waldoxy projects. He contributes "When You Leave Don't Take Nothin'", "Back At The Hotel" & "One More Time". White has been Mr. Consistency in the soul/blues realm. His fantastic vocals remind one of B.B. King mixed with Little Milton. Great singing, clean production & quality songs characterize this release like the upbeat horn-soaked soul numbers "I Can't Afford To Be Broke" & "Back At The Hotel" to the slow blues gems "When You Leave Don't Take Nothin'" & "One More Time". Especially noteworthy is Artie's version of a song by Travis "Moonchild" Haddix called "Made To Order" with the humorous refrain "I got my axesaw and some lumber/gonna be a busy man tonight/I'm gonna build myself a woman/one that's gonna treat me right".
"American Roots: Blues" (Ichiban 2002)
1. I Dig My Gig
****1/2 This "best of" CD of Artie "Blues Boy" White is superior to the first one issue by Ichiban back in 1991, which concentrated too much on Artie's covers of classic soul ballads. This 14-song collection from Artie's 6 Ichiban albums concentrates on BLUES! Songs include "Jodie", "Turn About Is Fair Play", "Hattie Mae", "I Dig My Gig", "Nite Before Payday", "Mr. Mailman", "One Woman Man", "Nobody Wants You When You're Old & Grey", "Nose To The Grindstone", etc.....B.B. King fans should pick this up.
"Can't Get Enough" (A Chill Town 2002)
Can't Get Enough
**** Rather than resign with Malaco/Waldoxy Artie opted to start his own label, A Chill Town. The horns are real- not synthesized and the song selection is superb, as is Artie's singing. "Can't Get Enough", "Love You Don't Know About" & "Crazy About My Baby" are delicious upbeat southern soul. "Not The Same Person", containing one of the best vocals of Artie's career, is dedicated to the late great Johnnie Taylor. Other highlights include the masterful "My Best Friend", a slow blues with Artie complaining that his best friend, a man he "ate barbeque out the same plate" with, has stolen his wife, his woman and now is after his girlfriend!. Once again special praise must be given to Artie's band. Ronnie Hicks & The Machine Company Band as well as a full horn section provide energetic rhythm and sharp solos. Ronnie Hicks leads the band from the keyboards, Greg Miller is on the lead and rhythm guitar, and the foundation is laid down by drummer Lester Holmes and bassman Kenny Hampton. On the horns are: horn arranger Willie Henderson on the baritone saxophone; Sonny Seals on the alto and tenor saxes; Hank Ford also on tenor sax; Billy McFarland on the trombone; and trumpeters Ken Anderson, Steve Hawkins, Burgess Garder, and Paul Howard. Chico Banks plays some mean guitar on "My Best Friend" and "I've Been Down So Long".
"Blues In The Past" (A Chill Town 2003)
1. Breaking Up Somebody Home
**1/2 Yes, he is Artie "BLUESBOY" White and he can always be counted on for real blues & soul played on actual instruments by actual humans (a great relief from the machine programmed production that most artists rely on). This is now his second independently released CD on his own Achilltown label. While "Can't Get Enough" was heavy on "soul blues" with plenty of horns, "Blues In The Past" is all blues- mostly Chicago-style. Only "We're Gonna Make It" & the fantastic lead cut "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" would classify as "soul blues" (the only cut with horns). Of the many remakes of this classic Ann Peebles song, perhaps only Albert King has done a better version! Artie's phrasing and vocal inflections add something to what could have been a hoary cover. Other highlights include two classics by Fenton Robinson ("Somebody Loan Me A Dime", "Make My Get Away") that Artie tears into brilliantly as does the band (someone named "Max" plays a mean guitar on all the tracks). Perhaps the ace on the hole is one of two cuts from one of the best and most under-appreciated blues writers (and performers) in the business, Travis Haddix. Artie does a great version of his cheeky "Jawbreaker". The album does contain a couple cuts that come across rather routine ("I Don't Know", "I'm A Man (Mannish Boy)"). It would have been nice if Artie made them more his own as he did with other tunes.
Artie White Lee Shot Williams Cicero Blake "Chicago Deep" (P-Vine 2003)
1. Warm Room
N/R Lopsided collection of material recorded for Ronn Records. The 12-track disc comprises the full "Blues Boy" LP by Artie White plus two tracks each from Lee Shot Williams and Cicero Blake. This would have been more interesting had there been more tracks and more balance. You're better off with the full albums.
"First Thing Tuesday Morning" (A Chill Town 2004)
1. Love to See You
*** This is now the 13th album by Artie "Blues Boy" White and the third release on "A Chill Town" (his own label) following last year's all blues "Blues In The Past". The new "Tuesday Morning" brings back horns to his brand of soul blues. The well-suited formula for Artie's throaty chops is here despite the somewhat diminished production values (not as crisp and clean as his first Chilltown release, "Can't Get Enough"). You got horn-fueled toe-tappers like "You, You", "I Love To See You Smile" (a Bobby Blue Bland hit from the late 70s) & "She Hit Me From The Blind Side" and you got B.B. King-like deep blues via Artie's favorite writer- and one of the best in the business- Travis Haddix. Artie brilliantly covers the Haddix classic "Strange" (re-titled "Trying To Hoodoo Me" here), "First Thing Tuesday Morning", which was featured on Travis own disc last year ("Company Is Coming"- a brilliant cd if you can find it), and "Crush On My Next Door Neighbor". These three blues cuts are the highlight of the disc and makes me wonder why Artie doesn't do an album's worth of Haddix originals. Also included is an adequate take on Albert King's 1983 remake of "Crosscut Saw" in which King and the band changed the rhythm- Artie even adds a paraphrase on King's banter with the band during the bridge!. Another keeper is the lovely soul ballad "I Promise". Artie's last two releases do contain too many covers and muddier production. I'd love to see Artie sign with a bigger label again and benefit from a higher budget and more exposure.
"Package Deal" (A Chill Town 2005)
1 - Chinese Shuffle
*** Little Milton, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Artie "Blues Boy" White have been the big three when it comes to genuine soul/blues music for quite some time- that is, the few that still use live musicians. Little Milton has left us and BBB records sparingly so Artie's carrying the torch now. This is his fourth album in as many years and it's a faithful mix of Southern Soul and soulful blues. The 10-song set leads off with a shuffle-bumping dancer called "Chinese Shuffle", the most overtly commercial track Artie's done in quite some time. Written by co-producer Walter Wells, it has serious hit potential- especially in Southern juke joints. Wells wrote 4 more tracks, including the swingin' "Can't Watch A Pussycat" and "Package Deal", a tasty slice of Southern Soul on the upbeat. It features synth horns- a rarity for an Artie album but seemingly essential for radio play in the chittlin circuit. The best cut is Travis Haddix's (erroneously printed as "Travel Hattie") "Bag Lady", a hard blues shuffle with some tart guitar licks by Chico Banks, a shining star on most "Blues Boy" albums. Blues is Artie's habitat but he can sing deep soul too on the tragic "Breakfast On The Table", a Don Bryant song previously done by Otis Clay (correct title is "I Can't Take It"). More meaty blues is found on "How Long Has This Been Going On" and "When You Leave Don't Take Nothing", both by Sam Mosley and lifted from the 1999 Waldoxy disc "Can We Get Together". There's also a staunch take on Albert King's muscular "Truckload Of Loving". It must be noted the sound and production is cleaner and fuller on "Package Deal" than his last two discs and that's a bonus.. Visit www.artiewhite.com to grab a copy.