By James Calemine
Born in New Orleans in 1939, this legendary blind guitarist died in February 2009. He began his recording career in 1958. He operated as Allen Toussaint’s lead guitarist in The Flamingoes. Folklorists Harry Oster and Richard Allen documented the guitarist while Eaglin recorded for Imperial Records in the early 60s. The Smithsonian Folkways label also recorded Eaglin in 2005. In 1974, he was featured as the guitarist on the Wild Magnolias debut albums of Indian songs. Eaglin stands as one of New Orleans’ most celebrated musicians.
Baby, You Can Get Your Gun! was recorded in 1986. Eaglin’s band mates on this album include members from Fats Domino, B.B. King’s bands as well as longtime friend guitarist Ronnie Earl. These are a diverse collection of songs that fuse R & B, blues and jazz into one smooth musical gumbo. Recorded in Louisiana at Southlake Studios, Eaglin’s musical powers prove hypnotic on the 11 tunes.
“You Give Me Nothing But The Blues” commences this collection. Eaglin’s guitar prowess becomes evident in the solo which embodies his style. Eaglin’s use of saxophone and organ give each song a jazzy undertone. “Baby Please”—a Percy Mayfield song–defies musical category, but would sound well in any juke joint or jazz club. Eaglin’s cool voice gives the music a soothing element.
“Oh Sweetness” portrays a classic glimpse of a festive New Orleans street on a Saturday night with more incandescent guitar work from Eaglin. “Profidia” travels into R&B, funk territory on this instrumental. “Lavinia”, a slow blues tune, moves with a cascading piano that allows the guitar and saxophone to embellish a easygoing mood under dim tavern lights.
The title track epitomizes Eaglin’s career sentiment lyrically and musically in this frenetic groove. “Drop The Bomb” calls to mind James Brown’s old call and response technique to his band, as Eaglin’s mates provide a lush sonic landscape on this one that would make George Clinton more than proud.
“That Certain Door” proves one of the most soulful songs on this CD. “Mary Joe”, a roadhouse rocker, electrifies the listener by Eaglin’s use of his guitar tone and the tune’s swinging beat. An original composition, “Nobody Knows” offers Eaglin’s straight-shot blues proclivity. The Church/Williams tune—“Pretty Girls Everywhere”–ends this CD in perfect New Orleans party fashion. Baby, You Can Get Your Gun! should serve as a fine Friday night soundtrack the next time you want folks over for a stone soul picnic…