Blues Album of the Month: God Knows I Tried by Junior Kimbrough (With the Soul Blues Boys)

Junior Kimbrough was the definition of a bluesman. Hard drinkin, heavy smokin, womanizin, old fashioned man. His songs are poignant, dark, and complex in their simplicity. He was born in Mississippi, and lived his life in the North Mississippi Hill Country. R.L. Burnside called Junior Kimbrough “The Beginning and End of All Music”. Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys counts Junior Kimbrough high among the defining influences in his music and guitar playing style.

In 1992, Junior Kimbrough operated a Juke Joint in North Mississippi called Junior’s Joint. He operated that famous bar until he died in 1998 of a stroke. It later burned down in a fire. It had been visited by famous rockstars and musicians during its existence, and was kept open until 2000.

The album I’m covering this month is God Knows I Tried, It is the epitome of Junior . Kimbrough’s heart wrenching, droning style of Juke Joint blues. Simple as his songs may be, the belie a deeper, more complex style and emotion. His compositions and playing styles are often polyrhythmic and while he usually plays over one chord, he would often modulate key or mode in his soloing, creating dissonant tones and then returning back to the tonic key for a sort of punctuation to the chaos he had just created.

List of Tracks:
1. “Your Gonna Find Your Mistake”- A slow, solo (no accompaniment other than his guitar) song. It is a sort of lament to a lover who has done wrong, leaving him behind. He professes his love to this lover of his, telling her that no matter what he does, he cannot stop loving her. He then responds to this loss by telling her that she will regret her loss. Very poignant and dark, and yet uplifting.

2. “How Do You Feel”- Very jazzy and funky at the same time. Awesome bass line and great punctuating drums. It’s a song about sex. It seems like it’s going to drop into something heavy, but the whole time it just keeps you on the edge of your seat. No real riff or hook, just straight forward and hard hitting.

3. “I Gotta Try You, Girl”- Awesome fuzzy guitar tone. Another superb ensemble work. Keeping in the Kimbrough style, it has a hypnotic droning bass line over which Kimbrough plays a dark melody.

4. “I’m In Love With You”- Another straightforward, solo piece. Kinda reminiscent of his song “Meet Me In the City”. Very light hearted, as opposed to the other tracks. It really stands out against the others.

5. “I Cried Last Night”

6. “Keep On Braggin”

7. “Tramp”- Slide guitar for the win. Probably my favorite on the record. A 12 bar blues song, the only lyric that is spoken is “Tramp” and some hardly discernable mumbling that serves almost as harmony to the music.

8. “All Night Long”- An Instrumental piece typifying Kimbrough’s style and skill at blues guitar.

This album is a must have. Any fan of Blues-Rock, Garage Rock, Delta Blues, or Blues in general will like this record.
Great review. Ive heard lots about Junior Kimbrough, but ive never got round to getting an album of his. I guess that ive got a good starting point now!

UG's Stock Market Guy

Hablo Español
Wǒ néng shuō Zhōngwén

So you can speak to me in English, Spanish or Chinese

My Recordings:

Dissident Blues
El Farol
We'll Make This Work
Stop This Train
Yeah I'll have to get this one next, the other 2 I have of his are awesome. Nice review Goolz, good to see a new AOTM up, hasn't been one for ages. I have one written I did ages ago but never posted so I'll post that after this one has been up a month and see if we can get this back on track a bit.
Quote by theneildeal
Great review. Ive heard lots about Junior Kimbrough, but ive never got round to getting an album of his. I guess that ive got a good starting point now!


It's a really sweet album.

I was going to do You Better Run, but I didn't want to do an essential set, so I chose this one instead.
Who do I talk to in order get this stickied?
^ Resi.

By the way, awesome review man. Good work.

I'll have to pick this one up.
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Ever since I started listening to the Black Keys, I've wanted to get into some Junior Kimbough. Now I know a good place to starts. Great review and I'll make sure to pick it up as soon as I can.
Ok, I left a comment on Resi's page...
Still need a sticky on this thread
Still waiting for a sticky
I'm having some comp troubles. For gods sake man, stop bumping.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.
He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.

Remember: A prudent question is one half of wisdom.

I checked it out. Pretty good album. My favorite tune is definitely Tramp. I love the mumbling.
It's Only Rock and Roll, But I like It