BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 


One of rock music’s most colorful raconteurs, Cousin Joe was born Pleasant Joseph in 1907 Louisiana and was a professional entertainer since the 1920’s but didn’t cut his first sides until 1945. Two years later, at 40 years old, he floated into the rock scene with a series of sharp witty records which mostly came and went without a trace though a few had some notable influence.

Comfortable in virtually any style of music – jazz, blues, gospel, rock – a warm vocalist with a metallic-tinged voice, a masterful songwriter and charismatic performer, Cousin Joe was more at home on stage than a studio and by the mid-50’s stopped recording altogether for seventeen years, choosing instead to play extended residencies at New Orleans clubs in between traveling the country. In the 1960’s he began regularly touring Europe to widespread acclaim and he revived his recording career in the early 70’s.

One of the few early rock performers to pen an autobiography, the colorful Cousin Joe passed away in 1989 at the age of 81 but lived a lifetime worthy of twice that age.
 
 

COUSIN JOE DISCOGRAPHY (Reviews To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
 
 

BOXCAR SHORTY (AND PETER BLUE)
(Decca 48045; September, 1947)
A record that’s downright cinematic in its presentation with Cousin Joe delivering a performance worthy of Bogart or Cagney… it leaps out at you the first time you hear it and then manages to grow on you the more you hear it. (8)

SADIE BROWN
(Decca 48061; December, 1947)
One of Cousin Joe’s better lyrical efforts will make all but the most stone-faced crack a smile as he takes the roundabout way to get to the payoff, leading you down the rabbit hole in the process. (6)

EVOLUTION BLUES
(Decca 48061; December, 1947)
A typically insightful commentary by Cousin Joe regarding man’s frustrating ability to be captured and controlled by women, it’s a song that works best played live where the audience’s reaction to the truisms adds to the charm, something that is understandably lacking on record. (5)

COME DOWN BABY
(Signature 1013; June, 1948)
Cousin Joe is still a treasure to behold, his vocal charm evident in each word he sings but the band isn’t up to matching him, their arrangement too technical and lacking guts. (4)

BOXCAR SHORTY’S CONFESSION
(Decca 48091; December, 1948)
A sequel that is better than it has any right to be, helped immeasurably by the vocal charms of Cousin Joe and the always deft support of Sammy Price on piano, along with the insatiable urge to hear even more about a notorious killer, even if it pales in comparison to the original. (5)

BEGGIN’ WOMAN
(Decca 48091; December, 1948)
A blues-rock hybrid that doesn’t hold enough musical excitement to overcome the surprisingly thin lyrics of which only the chorus lives up to Cousin Joe’s usual high standards. (4)