Who says a song needs more than one chord? Rhythm and Blues pioneer Jimmy Liggins didn't think so and his 1953 jump blues hit "Drunk," a tribute to the joys and travails of inebriation, certainly proves it.
Jimmy Liggins was the guitar playing brother of another R+B legend, pianist / singer /songwriter Joe Liggins (composer of blues standards like "The Honeydripper" and "Pink Champagne") and Jimmy was also a boxer who fought under the name Kid Zulu. The Liggins brothers were mainstays of the fertile 1940s and 50s Central Avenue music scene in Los Angeles. Joe Liggins was still performing in the 1970s when my brother Phil, Gene Taylor and I would catch him playing piano and singing in little dive bars around LA and Long Beach. He was an extremely talented and nice man. I wish I would've have also met Jimmy. I bet he could've taught me a lot about the complex mysteries of a one chord song.
Over the years Jimmy Liggins' one chord classic has been a staple in therepertoire of many barroom blues, western swing and rockabilly bands (I've even sung it once or twice with my band, The Guilty Men). This version of "Drunk," though, was recorded live last December at the Cafe Boogaloo in Hermosa Beach, California when I was part of a short west coast tour with The Gene Taylor Blues Band. Keyboard master Gene Taylor is singing and rocking the piano, Bill Bateman is swinging the drums and John Bazz is walking the stand up bass while I imitate some honking saxophone riffs on my electric guitar. The gigs were a special holiday reunion with my hometown pals and I had a blast to say the least. Our off the cuff take of "Drunk" was recorded and mixed by the genius engineer, Mark Linett and executive produced by noted R+B scholar Hudson Marquez. This track is a bonus outtake from a live CD by The Gene Taylor Blues Band that will be available later this year. Until then, I hope you enjoy "Drunk" and remember to always drink responsibly.
- Dave Alvin, February 23, 2008