It’s been a while here since the Song of the Day was a straight-up no-foolin’-around blues number. Let’s let Eddie Boyd fix that problem. Third Degree was co-written by Eddie and Willie Dixon in 1953 and was something of a hit.
I’m a blues fan but didn’t know about Eddie Boyd till I ran across this on a fabulous compilation called “The Chess Story” that apparently isn’t for sale any more, but I bet you can find it in the used-record and CD bins in a record store somewhere. If you see one, snap it up. Chess Records is an interesting story. Founded in 1950 in Chicago by Leonard and Phil Chess, Jewish brothers from Poland, it made a few bucks back in the day for a lot of fine black musicians.
Eddie Boyd was a good-looking dude and unusually for a blues bandleader, led and sang from his piano; his songs all have warm blues-chord piano fills that don’t sound like anyone else.
As for Third Degree, it’s the most basic 12-bar-blues imaginable: Got me ’cused of forgery / I can't even write my name. I just love Eddie’s singing on this, his voice rich and throaty and strong and confident.
Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify. I can’t find live video of this song, but here’s Eddie doing Five Long Years, actually his biggest hit, so you can see how a performance felt.