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IMPERIAL 5072; MAY 1950

 

 

When charting the course of an artist’s career you expect a certain ebb and flow to take place, a series of sudden jumps and brief retreats as they established just who and what they were trying to be creatively.

But when early in that arc you come across a record that is a conceptual disaster, even if in yesterday’s case it was hardly entirely the artist’s fault, it forces you to step back and take stock in the story as it unfolds… Was this just a momentary blip on the radar and we’ll soon return to the more predictable path forward, or was it a troubling indication that the journey is going to become a lot more complicated and the ultimate destination far more uncertain?

For Smiley Lewis, someone who never quite became a star despite being a reliable presence in rock for almost an entire decade, the dominant theme of his career in the history books was that he had a few really great sides that were near-misses commercially earning him the Hard Lucky Smiley tag.

But now coming off a song which didn’t work in any conceivable way you might wonder if those handful of widely praised records that are so often referenced when recounting his story were themselves somewhat happy accidents, merely sporadic aberrations to a much more mundane day to day existence as a borderline figure in rock’s deeper plot.
 
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