Fat Possum Celebrates 25 Years

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OXFORD, Miss. — Fat Possum Records, the Oxford, Mississippi-based label renowned for its raw blues and rock ’n’ roll, will commemorate its 25th anniversary with a year-long program including the first-time-on-vinyl release of 30 groundbreaking blues recordings.

The series, highlighting Fat Possum’s storied and varied history, includes new and first-time-on-vinyl releases from North Mississippi “Hill Country Blues” performers; stellar sides from past masters of the Delta style cut in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, recorded by famed musical historian George Mitchell; classic compilations of juke joint blues-rockers; and a first-time-on-vinyl reissue of the acclaimed 2005 All-Star tribute to arguably Fat Possum’s second most famous bluesman, Junior Kimbrough, involving Spiritualized, The Black Keys, The Stooges, and Pete Yorn.

Fat Possum was started in 1991 by Matthew Johnson using $4,000 in student loans. The label soon gained recognition with albums by North Mississippi bluesmen Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside, produced by musician and former New York Times music critic Robert Palmer.

Starting with Kimbrough’s All Night Long, and followed by Burnside’s Bad Luck City, Fat Possum found commercial and critical success which helped the label establish itself with early credibility – but not necessarily the support of all blues purists.

Fat Possum brought to the foreground a generation of hard-hitting blues musicians who had been hiding in plain sight for decades. 

Fat Possum’s original stars and some of its greatest discoveries will be available as part of its 25th-anniversary series. Kimbrough will be represented by a vinyl reissue of Meet Me in the City, released a year after the trance-blues master’s 1998 death. 

T-Model Ford will be heard on a pair of sets cut in tandem with longtime drummer Spam: T-Model’s label debut Pee Wee Get My Gun (1997) followed by Bad Man (2002), the latter of which was produced by the venerated musician-producer Jim Dickinson.

The most down-home side of the Fat Possum roster will be represented in a cache of albums by some of the label’s most gifted solo performers: Robert Belfour (2000), Robert Cage (1998), Johnny Farmer (1998), and Asie Payton (2002). 

R.L. Burnside, perhaps the label’s best known and most revered artist, will be heard on a compilation of material recorded before his arrival at Fat Possum. R.L. Burnside’s Unplugged, packages never-before-heard sides recorded in Europe in 1982.

Music by these and other Fat Possum blues artists — plus offerings from modern acts such as Grandpa Boy (a.k.a. Paul Westerberg of the Replacements), Bob Log III, 20 Miles (featuring Judah Bauer of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) and Heartless Bastards — will be released on vinyl and digital editions of the label’s three Not the Same Old Blues Crap anthologies (from 1997, 2001, and 2004) and the compilation All Men Are Liars (1998).

Fat Possum-affiliated label Big Legal Mess will offer a selection of ten LPs and full-length downloads drawn from George Mitchell’s genre defining fieldwork, recorded between 1963 and 1982. Some of the material has been unavailable in its entirety since its original 12-inch release. Artists include such masters as Furry Lewis, Buddy Moss and Houston Stackhouse.

Additionally, John Lee Hooker’s Alone, a 1976 solo live set by the Detroit blues legend captured at New York’s Hunter College, will make its appearance on two individual LPs.

Also premiering on vinyl will be Sunday Nights, the 2005 Kimbrough salute starring the Black Keys (whose own Fat Possum albums put them on the map), Iggy & the Stooges, Spiritualized, Cat Power, Mark Lanegan, and a host of other top rock ’n’ roll talents.

Since its outset two-and-a-half decades ago, Fat Possum’s operating motto has been ‘We’re Trying Our Best.’ This celebratory cavalcade will prove definitively that its pretty damn good.  

Complete Fat Possum Anniversary Release Schedule

Released in 2015:

October 2 – Not the Same Old Blues Crap 1 LP

October 30 – J.W. Warren – Life Ain’t Worth Livin LP / Digital

October 30 – Jimmy Lee Williams – Hoot Your Belly LP / Digital

November 27 – Buddy Moss – self titled LP / Digital

November 27 – Not the Same Old Blues Crap 2 LP

To be released in 2016:

January 8 – Leon Pinson – Hush – Somebody Is Calling Me LP / Digital

February 19 – Not the Same Old Blues Crap 3 (Blues Crap 1 & 2 in the UK Also)

April 8 – Furry Lewis – Good Morning Judge LP / Digital

April 8 – Houston Stackhouse & Friends LP / Digital 

April 16 – Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough Record Store Day LP

April 16 – Junior Kimbrough – I Gotta Try You Girl Daft Punk Edit Record Store Day LP

May 06 – R.L. Burnside – Mississippi Hill Country Blues LP

May 20 – John Lee Hooker – Alone Volume 1 LP

May 20 – John Lee Hooker – Alone Volume 2 LP 

May 27 – T-Model Ford – Pee Wee Get My Gun LP

May 27 – T-Model Ford – Bad Man LP

June 10 – Jim Bunkley & George Henry Bussey LP / Digital

June 10 – Junior Kimbrough – Meet Me in the City LP

June 24 – R.L. Burnside (unreleased recordings)

July 15 – Asie Payton – Just Do Me Right LP

July 15 – Robert Belfour – What’s Wrong With You LP

July 22 – All Men Are Liars Compilation CD / LP / Digital

August 17 – Jimmy Lee Harris – I Wanna Ramble LP / Digital

August 17 – Robert Cage – Can See What You’re Doing LP

September 9 – Johnny Farmer – Wrong Doers Respect Me LP

October 7- Dewey Corley & Walter Miller LP / Digital

October 7 – Paul “Wine” Jones – Mule LP

Brian Wise

Brian Wise was the Editor of Addicted To Noise‘s Australian site from 1997 – 2002. The site won two ONYA Awards as Best Online Music Magazine in 1999 & 2000. He has also been Editor since its reincarnation in 2013. He also presents the weekly music interview program Off The Record on 102.7 Triple R-FM (rrr.org.au) in Melbourne. It is networked to 45+ stations across Australia on the Community Radio Network and is a four-time winner of the Best Music Program Award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. In 2012, it was nominated as a finalist in the Excellence in Music Programming category. Brian was also the Founding Editor & Publisher of Rhythms Magazine and is now its Senior Contributing Editor.

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