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Hotter Than A Bulldog Spitting In A Polecat's Eye

Mable Hillery + Johnny Shines Live 1975

Only Mable Hillery's second full-length release, Hotter Than A Bulldog Spitting In A Polecat's Eye presents a glimpse of a lost master.

In 1975, brothers John and Jim Fishel organized the fourth annual Miami Blues Festival at the University of Miami in Florida. When blues legend Johnny Shines suggested an obscure traditional blues singer named Mable Hillery, the brothers booked her on the strength of his recommendation. In a special one-off collaboration, the pair dazzled the Miami audience with a set that harkened back to the classic blues of Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, and Memphis Minnie.

Tracklisting

  1. Introduction

  2. Bring It On Home

  3. Young Woman’s Blues

  4. Four Day Creep

  5. You’ve Got To Love Him With A Feeling

  6. Bumble Bee Blues

  7. Come Back Baby

  8. Backwater Blues

  9. Announcements

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CRITICAL ACCLAIM

“Thanks both to Shines’ sympathetic backing and Hillery’s expressive and dynamic vocals…these familiar songs consistently find new life.” – Living Blues

“This timeless LP is…an essential recording for any serious blues enthusiast.” – Blues Music Magazine

“[Johnny] Shines is the only accompanist and his playing approaches perfection…[Hillery’s interpretations of blues classics] might be presented as prime examples of re-creation within the tradition.” – Blues & Rhythm

 

LISTEN!

 

ABOUT THE RELEASE

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  • Limited to an edition of 250 hand-numbered LPs

  • Approved by the Estates of Mable Hillery and Johnny Shines

  • Audio restored by Grammy-award winning engineer Andreas Meyer

  • Pressed on 180g vinyl

  • Original woodblock cover art designed by Rachel Meirs with audiophile Mobile Fidelity inner sleeves

  • Detailed liner notes recounting Shines and Hillery's friendship, political activism, and performance at the 1975 Miami Blues Festival are included with the album

  • PLUS a 28-page booklet including:

    • Biographies of Mable Hillery and Johnny Shines

    • Recollections from Bill Farrow, who accompanied Mable Hillery on a 1967 UK Tour, five television appearances, and the recording of her first and only full-length studio LP

    • Recollections from Davey Williams, who studied guitar with Johnny Shines and played with his group The Stars of Alabama in the early 1970s

    • Rare photos, collected ephemera, and more!

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ABOUT THE ARTISTS

(l-r) Group shot from the 1975 Miami Blues Festival: John Fishel, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Eddie Baccus, Jim Fishel, Mable Hillery, Johnny Shines, and unknown

(l-r) Group shot from the 1975 Miami Blues Festival: John Fishel, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Eddie Baccus, Jim Fishel, Mable Hillery, Johnny Shines, and unknown

Born in 1929, Mable Hillery grew up absorbing the folk traditions of her rural Georgia community. In 1950, she married Will Adams, with whom she'd have six children. Her life as a professional musician began in 1960. After moving to the Georgia Sea Islands, ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax came through town and invited her to participate in a documentary. She was soon a member of the Georgia Sea Island Singers, with whom she sang through 1966. After going solo, she became deeply involved with the Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project, which used music as a form of activism. Eventually moving to Harlem, Hillery became an educator, integrating Southern folk culture into elementary curriculum. In 1967, she toured the UK and made her only solo recording. Her commitments to performing, education, and activism continued until her untimely death in 1976.

Born in 1915, Johnny Shines lived one of the storied lives of the blues. After a youth in and around Memphis, Shines picked up a guitar in his teens. While an early influence was Howlin' Wolf, Shines began developing his own sound as he traveled the country with Robert Johnson, fabled "Father of the Delta Blues." Eventually, Shines followed the trail of the Great Migration north to Chicago. There he became a pioneer of the new post-war electric sound, but recordings for Columbia, Chess, and J.O.B. Records either went unissued or received a lukewarm commercial reception. By the late 1950s, he'd gone into musical retirement. Coaxed back into the recording studio in 1965, Shines finally found a dedicated audience in the spillover of "the Blues Revival." In 1969, he moved to a small-town outside Tuscaloosa, AL. While expanding his base of operations in the South, including participating in the activities of the Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project, Shines continued to record frequently and tour the world. In 1980, Shines suffered a stroke that affected his guitar playing, but he soldiered on, assuming the mantle of international dignitary of the blues. Shines died in 1992, just days before his 77th birthday.