Wednesday, December 08, 2004


I've lost my taste for caviar

Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Kidney Stew Blues.

Cleanhead Vinson earned his nickname after a horrific accident involving lye-based hair conk. As he says in his "Cleanhead Blues": "Folks call me mister Cleanhead 'cause my head is bald on top/And every week I save a dollar/ When I walk by that barber shop."

Vinson was one of the relatively few postwar musicians who could straddle the growing divide between jazz and R&B--he was as convincing a blues "shouter" as Jimmy Witherspoon while he was also a notable alto sax player (he eventually would write tunes for Miles Davis and mentor Coltrane in the early '50s.)

"Kidney Stew Blues" finds Cleanhead realizing his uptown dame is just too much work and money for him, so he's going back home to find that woman he dumped. He's going to settle for "plain old kidney stew," and he sounds pretty happy about it.

More on Cleanhead. "Kidney Stew" was recorded on January 22, 1947 in New York, and can be found on this great R&B collection.

Recipe for kidney stew, for your holiday table.

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