Saturday, 26 May 2018

Oliver! appendices: Rufus Thomas - 44 Long (8 December 1991)

I’m overjoyed that this track has turned up.  After hearing it on the recording of Peel’s 8/12/91 show I returned to it again and again, but it didn’t make it to YouTube until 3 months ago.

44 Long went unreleased until it turned up on album of unissued Thomas recordings called Can’t Get Away From This Dog.  It’s a reminder of a time when record labels like Stax had more material than they knew what to do with.  I have pondered at length what 44 Long refers to: a gun? a car? Thomas’s dick?  All and any of these are possible, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s about a suit, mainly due to reference to “Mohair living on my back”.
Can’t Get Away From This Dog covers tracks recorded by Rufus Thomas between 1963 & 1967, and 44 Long is a cracking example of Thomas’s 60s soul period - well into his forties by the time he hit international recognition with Walking the Dog, he had spent the 1950s cutting blues records while the 1970s would see him tackle funk and come up with one of the defining records of the genre.

As this tribute shows, Thomas led a full and funky life.  Given his love of the Stax label, I hope Peel pulled out more of his tunes as the years went past.  On the 8/12/91 show, he played 44 Long after reading out the names of some people based in a wine business who had sent him a company Christmas card: “Next year, just send me some of your product, skip the card.”

Video courtesy of Gioberry.

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