Fat Possum Records

Fat Possum Records

Fat Possum Records is an acclaimed record label operating out of Oxford, Mississippi. At first Fat Possum focused almost entirely on recording hitherto unknown Mississippi blues artists (typically from Oxford or Holly Springs, Mississippi). Recently, Fat Possum has signed younger rock acts to its roster.

The label has been featured in a New Yorker article, ["The New Yorker", February 4, 2002] a piece on NPR [NPR, "Weekend Edition Sunday", December 19, 2004
] , and a 2004 documentary, "You See Me Laughin"'."You See Me Laughin': The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen" (2003). Produced and directed by Mandy Stein.]


Founded by Matthew Johnson and Peter Redvers-Lee [Peter Redvers-Lee later left, to be replaced by Bruce Watson.] in 1992, the label initially specialised in discovering blues players from the North Mississippi region, many of whom had never recorded before. At Fat Possum's behest some artists, particularly R. L. Burnside, released both standard blues albums and more "techno" albums [From The Observer, November 16, 2003:
"One last question: how does he (R. L. Burnside) like the remixes of his music that Fat Possum has put out? 'At first I didn't like them too much,' he says. 'Then I saw how much money they were making and I got to liking them pretty well.' "
In addition to Burnside, Asie Payton's albums feature, as the last song(s), remixes.
] , done in the style that would later be made famous by Moby's album "Play". This led to a fair amount of controversy among blues purists, a group which Johnson was largely uninterested in. [The liner notes for "Not the Same Old Blues Crap 3" and several other blues compilations contain essays by Matthew Johnson regarding his feelings for blues archivalists. He is against them.]

Many of the early line of artists for Fat Possum was picked with the aid of "New York Times" music critic Robert Palmer, who also produced a number of records for the label.

Although their releases were critically acclaimed, particularly Junior Kimbrough's album "All Night Long", which received 4 stars from "Rolling Stone" and the loud approval of Iggy Pop [Junior Kimbrough would perform one of his few tours with Iggy Pop.] , Fat Possum was perennially strapped for cash. Word of mouth and artist compilations, such as "Not the Same Old Blues Crap 3" (with a cover illustration by Joe Sacco [Sacco also travelled with T-Model Ford for a piece for Vanity Fair] ) and "All Men Are Liars", gradually pulled Fat Possum out of the red, even if only for brief periods of time. Unfortunately, a legal fight with Capricorn Records, who were to be their distribution, drained Fat Possum's funds and left a number of projects on the shelf. [ [http://www.bluesaccess.com/No_28/possum.html Blues Access: Fat Possum ] ]

R. L. Burnside proved early on to be the label's biggest money maker. Having toured with The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, he and Jon Spencer's band teamed up to record, in a single afternoon, [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2822/is_3_23/ai_64190186
The album was co-released with Matador Records, although the 2005 reissue was released solely by Fat Possum.
] the record "A Ass Pocket of Whiskey", which further helped Burnside and Fat Possum gain wider recognition. A remix of an R. L. Burnside song was also featured prominently on "The Sopranos". Despite the fact that Burnside was, by 2002, making several thousand dollars a week from his music career, he still regularly collected welfare.

With time, many of the label's artists have died. Asie Payton, King Ernest, and Charles Caldwell died before their records could be released. Junior Kimbrough died in 1998. R.L. Burnside died in 2005.

As the label has developed, it has begun to broaden its base of artists and sign a range of younger bands such as the Heartless Bastards, Deadboy & the Elephantmen, The Black Keys and Andrew Bird. It has also begun to release more archival records [Previously, the only non-Fat Possum recorded album released was by Scott Dunbar] , such as George Mitchell's 1967 recordings of Furry Lewis, Mississippi Joe Callicott, R.L. Burnside, Townes Van Zandt, and others, with covers designed by Chip Kidd.


Fat Possum is known primarily for its early blues artists, such as R. L. Burnside, T-Model Ford, Robert Belfour and Junior Kimbrough. Recently, Fat Possum's newer artists, like The Black Keys, have received a wide amount of coverage. Solomon Burke's "comeback" album, "Don't Give Up On Me", won the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

External links

* [http://www.fatpossum.com/ Official site]

ee also

* List of record labels
* Blues

Notes & References

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