Jesse Ed Davis was perhaps the most versatile session guitarist of the late '60s and early '70s. Whether it was blues, country, or rock, Davis' tasteful guitar playing was featured on albums by such giants as Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, John Lennon, and John Lee Hooker, among others. It is Davis' weeping slide heard on Clapton's "Hello Old Friend" (from No Reason to Cry), and on both Rock n' Roll and Walls & Bridges, it is Davis who supplied the bulk of the guitar work for ex-Beatle Lennon.
Born in Oklahoma, Davis first earned a degree in literature from the University of Oklahoma before beginning his musical career touring with Conway Twitty in the early '60s. Eventually the guitarist moved to California, joining bluesman Taj Mahal and playing guitar and piano on his first three albums. It was with Mahal that Davis was able to showcase his skill and range, playing slide, lead, and rhythm, country, and even jazz guitar during his three-year stint.
The period backing Mahal was the closest Davis came to being in a band full-time, and after Mahal's 1969 album Giant Step, Davis began doing session work for such diverse acts as David Cassidy, Albert King, and Willie Nelson. In addition, he also released three solo albums featuring industry friends such as Leon Russell and Eric Clapton.
In and out of clinics, Davis disappeared from the music industry for a time, spending much of the '80s dealing with alcohol and drug addiction. Just before his death of a suspected drug overdose in 1988, Davis resurfaced playing in the Graffiti Band, which coupled his music with the poetry of American Indian activist John Trudell. The kind of expert, tasteful playing that Davis always brought to an album is sorely missed among the acts he worked with.
His second album "Ululu" is far more a collector's record than an actual "turntable staple," it is a significant improvement from Davis' first solo outing. During the title track in particular, as well as a cover of Merle Haggard's "White Line Fever," Davis' voice achieves a ragged glory that makes the listener realize why sloppy rock & roll can be so much fun. Other standout moments include a version of the tune that Davis co-wrote with Taj Mahal, "Further on Down the Road," and the Davis-penned "Reno St. Incident." In all, it is the fun record that you would expect from a standout session player like Davis.
by Steve Kurutz
1. Red Dirt Boogie, Brother - 3:44
2. White Line Fever (Merle Haggard) - 3:03
3. Farther On Down The Road (You Will Accompany Me) (Taj Mahal, Jesse Davis) - 3:14
4. Sue Me, Sue You Blues (Georg Harrison) - 2:45
5. My Captain - 3:23
6. Ululu - 3:40
7. Oh! Susannah (Traditional) - 2:45
8. Strawberry Wine (Levoln Helm, Robbie Robertson) - 2:13
9. Make A Joyful Noise - 3:51
10.Alcatraz (Leon Russell) - 3:15
All songs by Jesse Davis except where noted
*Jesse Davis - Vocals, Guitar
*Donald "Duck" Dunn - Bass
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Mac Rebennack - Organ, Piano
*Billy Rich - Bass
*Larry Knechtel - Organ
*Leon Russell - Piano
*Chuck Kirkpatrick - Backing Vocals
*Albhy Galuten - Piano
*Stan Szeleste – Piano
*Arnold Rosenthal - Bass
*The Charles Chalmers Singers, Clydie King, Merry Clayton, Vanetta Fields - Backing Vocals