Like a lot of musicians with cultish fame and lengthy careers, Dave Ray’s recordings are spread out over a wide swath of record labels, including quite a few that – like the Minneapolis acoustic blues hero himself -- are no longer around. At last, though, one of Ray's oldest cohorts and the Twin Cities' longest-running label have taken on the hard task of sorting through Ray’s unreleased material and compiling it into one thorough and deservedly bulky anthology.
Red House Records announced today it will release the three-disc set “Legacy: Rare and Unreleased Recordings from an American Blues Master (1962 - 2002),” due to arrive Oct. 28. “Long in the making,” are the first words of the press release for the collection, which was “painstakingly” compiled by Ray’s longtime collaborator Tony Glover.
The collection includes some leftovers from Ray’s most famous group, Koerner, Ray & Glover – you know, the one that influenced everyone from Bob Dylan and John Legend to Bonnie Raitt and Beck – as well as tracks as a duo with Glover and various solo work.
Here’s the breakdown of what’s on each disc, per Red House:
- Disc One: Originals and classic blues covers by Lead Belly, Skip James and Brownie McGhee, to name just a few. Most of the recordings are Ray solo performances with a few Ray and Glover tracks, including an electrified, dark version of the Skip James’ number “Devil Got My Woman.”
- Disc Two: A Ray and Glover collection covering Ray’s work from 1988 through 1994, which included four album releases, including four songs from the out of print "Ashes in My Whiskey" album they did for UK label Rough Trade in 2000.
- Disc Three: Four tracks from "One Foot in the Groove" sessions, a Koerner, Ray & Glover live album recorded live at Minneapolis’ Bryant-Lake Bowl for Tim Kerr’s Portland-based underground label Tim/ Kerr. There are tracks from a DIY album, "A Hollow Body Experience," by Ray’s combo 6L6, that was available only at gigs, as well as one of the last recordings by KR&G, Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway” recorded live at the Toledo Art Museum in 2001. The CD includes two tracks recorded live at Ray’s last hometown performance in November, 2002 just weeks before he died.
The anthology will include a 32-page booklet with photos and liner notes. Here’s a taste of what Glover had to say for the collection: “To me he was a brother from another family – the family of sound. He brought a vitality to the blues that the scholars who’d been on the scene couldn’t muster.”
Ray died on Thanksgiving Day in 2002. Click here for the story we ran at the time on Koerner, Ray & Glover’s legacy, which was in the works at the time of his passing.
Red House is helping organize a release party at the Minnesota History Center on Nov. 9 with performers yet to be announced (details here).