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Billy Branch -> Big Bill Broonzy


BILLY BRANCH & THE S.O.B.'S Evidence 26049 Live '82 ● CD $11.98
8 tracks, 53 min., very good
Influenced by Sonny Boy (Rice Miller) Williamson & Little Walter (Jacobs), William Earl Branch (b. 1951) is only now coming to the forefront. Recently signed to Polygram Records, Evidence has reissued one of his earliest recordings with The Sons Of The Blues, featuring original member Lurrie Bell (vocals, gtr). (The S.O.B.'s first recordings are available on Alligator's "Living Blues V.3" and "The New Bluebloods" sets). Recorded during the American Folk Blues Festival'82 tour, Billy Branch signs only on one track (Eyesight To The Blind), leaving the rest to J. W. Williams (Sweet Little Angel) and Lurrie Bell. As a bonus, Evidence has added Lurrie's version of Sir Mack Rice's Cadillac Assembly Line, wrongly labeled on the CD as Detroit, Michigan - a title originally recorded in 1976 by Albert King (for Utopia Records). Also, as an extra bonus, we have a Carey Bell feature (Goin' On Main Street) which (I believe) does not feature Billy Branch. (

BILLY BRANCH & THE S.O.B.'S Evidence 2606 Where's My Money? ● CD $11.98

CURLEY BRIDGES Electro-Fi 3358 Keys To The Blues ● CD $15.98
First recording in more than 20 years by vocalist/ piano player Bridges.

EUGENE "HIDEAWAY" BRIDGES Armadillo 0009 Man Without A Home ... ● CD $15.98
11 tracks, 46 mins, highly recommended. I didn't hear Bridges first album but this new one is a real winner. A relatively young man from Louisiana he is triple threat - a high quality singer, songwriter and guitarist. He has a strong gospel background so it's not too surprising that voice has some wonderful gsopel inflections. He is a fluid guitarist with a lyrical fleet fingered style and a strong songwriter. The opening song I Used To Sing Love Songs and the song that gave the album it's title Man Without A Country, Man Without A Home are particularly strong. I also really like the down home flavored You Gonna Miss Me. Bridges is also a fine soul singer he was influenced by Sam Cooke and does a couple of Cooke's lesser known titles as well as a couple of soul songs of his own. He is accompanied by a hard driving group which on several cuts is enhanced by the addition of an excellent horn section. Bridges has a strong following in Europe - hopefully this album will give him the attention he deserves on this side of the pond. (FS)

JOHN BRIM & PINETOP PERKINS Wolf 120.858 Chicago Blues Session Vol. 12 ● CD $15.98
This album features 4 songs by Brim and 5 from Perkins from two different 1989 sessions, plus a couple of late 70's tracks from the Brim family. Brim made some wonderful recordings for various labels in the 50s but at the time of these recordings his voice was pretty shot and he sound very different to the man who recorded 30 years previously. Band accompaniments with guitarist John Primer and harmonica player Billy Branch are solid. The 5 Perkins cuts feature him accompanied by the drums of Timothy Taylor or Michael Strasse. Nice performances of mostly familiar songs like High Heel Sneakers and Drivin' Wheel. (FS)

THE BRONZEMEN Document DOCD 5501 Radio Transcriptions, 1939 ● CD $15.98
28 tracks, 65 min., cautiously recommended
According to Ken Romanowski's liner notes here, the Bronzemen made no commercial recordings either pre- or post-war. Their surviving musical legacy is contained in these radio transcriptions taken from two 1939 sessions. And, as Romanowski readily admits, that legacy is a rather modest one. For, though the Bronzemen are clearly competent singers, they are harmonically unadventurous, concert-styled singers, who, when compared to other contemporary black jubilee ensembles, are quite tame. Having said that, I still find small doses of their work enjoyable. That work includes versions of Scandalize Ma Name, Deep River, Good News, De Gospel Train, I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray, Standing in the Need of Prayer, Where Shall I Go, and Dese Bones Gwine Rise Again. (DH)

BROOKS, HUNTER, WALKER & CHARLES Alligator 4866 Lone Star Shootout ● CD $14.98
15 tracks, 62 mins, highly recommended
Four veterans of the Gulf Coast blues scene of the 60s and 70s join forces on an exciting collaboration. Lonnie Brooks and Phillip Walker have gained quite a following over the years and Lost John Hunter is gradually building one. Ervin Charles is an unfamiliar name but is somewhat of a legend in the Gulf Coast area and his superb singing and playing on his two songs here shows why - can we have a solo album by him soon please? The others perform in a variety of different configurations - solos, duos and trios and are accompanied by an excellent group. Old songs, new songs but all of them blue songs - Roll, Roll, Roll/ A Little More Time/ Feel Good Doin' Bad/ Street Walking Woman/ You're Playing Hookey/ Quit My baby/ I Met The Blues In Person/ two Trains Running, etc. (FS)

BIG LEON BROOKS Earwig 4931 Let's Go To Town ● CD $14.98
Reissue of 1980 B.O.B. album with Louis Myers, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, Eddie Taylor, Big Moose Walker and others.

HADDA BROOKS Ace CDCHD 1046 That's Where I Came In ● CD $18.98
Ace's third album devoted to the talented Ms Brooks features her vocal interpretations of two dozen pop and R&B standards with mostly small group accompaniment recorded in 1946 and '47. More than three quarters of the tracks are previously unissued and many have only been discovered in recent years. Includes Keep Your Hand On Your Heart/ Why was I Born/ The Best Things In Life Are Free/ Sailboat In The Moonlight/ Tomorrow Night/ I Must Have That Man/ This Time We're Through/ Please Be Kind/ Out Of The Blue, etc.

HADDA BROOKS Ace CDCHM 889 Swingin' The Boogie ● CD $12.98
Another in Ace's budget 10" series this one features 18 tracks by versatile musician recorded for Modern between 1945 and 1950. This disc is devoted to fine instrumental work - most of it boogie woogie along with some more straight blues and jazzy numbers. She is mostly accompanied by just a rhythm section though some tracks feature a larger group. The set includes five previously unissued tunes or alternate takes. Includes Swingin' The Boogie/ Lazy Boogie/ Boogie Celeste/ Nightmare Boogie/ Ridin' The Boogie/ Just A Little Bluesie/ St Louis Blues Boogie/ Boogie Dance/ Chop Chop, etc. Excellent sound and detailed notes by Tony Rounce.
HADDA BROOKS: Blue Mood/ Bluesin' On Central (radio KRE Aircheck 1946)/ Bluesin' The Boogie/ Boogie Celeste/ Boogie Dance/ Bully Wully Boogie/ Bully Wully Stomp Aka Stompin' The Boogie/ Chop Chop Boogie/ Eight-ten Boogie/ Hip Shakin' Boogie/ Just A Little Bluesie/ Lazy Boogie/ Nightmare Boogie/ Rehearsin' The Boogie/ Ridin' The Boogie/ St Louis Blues Boogie/ Swingin' The Boogie/ Teenage Boogie

LONNIE BROOKS Alligator 4714 Bayou Lightnin' ● CD $15.98
With Billy Branch/hca on two cuts - Voodoo Daddy/ Watchdog/ In the Dark/ Alimony, etc.

LONNIE BROOKS Alligator 4721 Turn On The Night ● CD $15.98
Unlike his first Alligator album which featured rhythm section only this one features horns on several cuts for a richer sound - Eyeballin'/ Teenage Boogie Man/ I'll Take Care Of You, etc

LONNIE BROOKS Alligator 4731 Hot Shot ● CD $15.98
His third, and possibly best, Alligator album, called "the most ferocious blues album of the year" in the N.Y. Times. Raw, emotion charged vocals and hard driving guitar from Lonnie and solid support from his regular road band with Abb Locke guesting on tenor sax. The songs are new originals or obscure older songs plus a powerful remake of his 50's swamp pop hit Family Rules. 10 cuts. (FS)

LONNIE BROOKS Alligator 4751 Wound Up Tight ● CD $15.98
Another winner from Lonnie, who also wrote most of the songs. Johnny Winter lends a hand on Got Lucky Last Night and the title tune, and Jim Liban guests on harp on Musta Been Dreamin' & Belly Rubbin' Music.

LONNIE BROOKS Alligator 4759 Live/ Bayou Lightning Strikes ● CD $15.98

LONNIE BROOKS Alligator 4799 Satisfaction Guaranteed ● CD $15.98

LONNIE BROOKS Alligator 4843 Road House Rules ● CD $15.98
LONNIE BROOKS: Backbone Man/ Before You Go/ Evil Twin/ Get Through To You/ Hoodo She Do/ I Need A Friend/ It's Your World/ One Track Train/ Rockin' Red Rooster/ Roll Of The Tumbling Dice/ Stake My Claim/ Stranger In My House/ Too Little Too Late/ Treat Me Like Your Dog

LONNIE BROOKS Alligator 5602 Deluxe Edition ● CD $15.98

LONNIE BROOKS Delmark 660 Let's Talk It Over ● CD $11.98
8 tracks, 43 mins, recommended
Nice set of solid Chicago blues recorded in 1977 and previously available only on a very scarce LP. The sessions were supervised by veteran record producer and although conducted in a hurry with little, if any, rehearsal the band sounds good. Lonnie provides 6 originals and does fine versions of the old standbys Reconsider Baby and Hideaway. Good singing and playing from Lonnie and tasteful accompaniments by Bob Levis/rhy gtr, Rob Waters/pno, Harlan Terson/bs and Robert Taylor Layton/ drums. (FS)

LONNIE BROOKS Evidence 26001 Sweet Home Chicago ● CD $11.98
Reissue of Black & Blue 59.554. Louisiana born singer/ guitarist Lonnie Brooks aka Guitar Jr. has been an active musician since the 50s and is probably best known for a series of powerful contemporary recordings for Alligator in the last 10 years. The cuts on this album were recorded in 1975 in France with a band that included Hubert Sumlin, Little Mac Simmons (hca), Willie Mabon, Dave Myers and Fred Below. The selection is mostly overly familiar blues standards like Sweet Home Chicago/ Crosscut Saw/ Things I Used To Do/ Big Leg Woman/ Woke Up This Morning along with a few originals. Good singing and playing but nothing terribly exciting. (FS)

BIG BILL BROONZY Blues Documents BDCD 6047 Complete Recorded Works, 1945-1947 : Vol 12 ● CD $15.98
BIG BILL BROONZY: Bad Luck Man/ Big Bill's Boogie/ Cell No. 13 Blues/ Doing The Best I Can/ Humble Blues/ I Can Fix It/ I Can't Write/ Just A Dream/ Just Rocking/ Oh Baby/ Old Man Blues/ Partnership Woman/ Please Believe Me/ Rambling Bill/ Roll Them Bones/ San Antonio Blues/ Saturday Evening Blues/ Shoo Blues/ Stop Lying Woman/ Summer Time Blues/ What Can I Do/ When I Get To Thinkin'/ Why Did You Do That To Me/ You Got The Best Go/ You Got To Play Your Hand

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5050 In Chronological Order, Vol 1 ● CD $15.98
The first of three volumes presenting all the early recordings of this great bluesman in chronological order. This set features 26 sides recorded between 1927 and 1932 and display his remarkable prowess as a guitarist - either as a solo performer or with the second guitar of John Thomas or Frank Brasswell providing a beautiful counterpoint to Bill's lead. Several tracks feature the piano and a few with Steele Smith on guitar. A beuatiful mixture of blues, ragtime and hokum from this talented and popular performer. Sound is generally adequate considering the rarity of the original recordings and there are brief notes by Keith Briggs. (FS)
BIG BILL BROONZY: Big Bill Blues (18385)/ Big Bill Blues (20373)/ Down In The Basement Blues/ Grandma's Farm/ House Rent Stomp/ How You Wan't Done? (17284)/ I Can't Be Satisfied (9599)/ I Got The Blues For My Baby/ Meanest Kind Of Blues/ Papa's Gettin' Hot/ Pig Meat Strut (9587)/ Police Station Blues/ Saturday Night Rub (9594)/ Skoodle Do Do (16573)/ Skoodle Do Do (9601)/ Starvation Blues (20923)/ State Street Woman/ Tadpole Blues/ The Banker's Blues/ They Can't Do That

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5051 1927-1935 Recordings In Chronological Order, Vol 2 ● CD $15.98
The second of three volumes presenting all the early recordings of this great bluesman in chronological order. This set features 24 sides recorded between February, 1932 and October, 1934. Most of the 1932 recordings feature Bill alone with his guitar and include some magnificent performances including the two part Worryin' You Off My Mind sung to the tune of Sittin' On Top Of the World, the powerful Mistreatin' Mama Blues with the staccato guitar riffs that Bill used from time to time and the intense Bull Cow Blues. There are two tracks with his "Jug Busters" - amslal group with trumpet, trombone, kazoo, jug, etc. The 1934 performances feature Bill accompanied by the fine piano of Black Bob and occasional banjo by Charlie Jackson and find Bill becoming a bit formulaic though still very fine on numbers like Friendless Blues/ Hungry Man Blues/ Serve It To Me Right/ Mississippi River Blues and others. Sound is generally good though a few of the rare items are from very worn 78s and there are brief notes by Keith Briggs. (FS)
BIG BILL BROONZY: At The Break Of Day/ Bull Cow Blues/ Bull Cow Blues - Part 2/ Dying Day Blues/ Friendless Blues/ Hard Headed Woman/ How You Want It Done? (11611)/ Hungry Man Blues/ I Want To Go Home/ I'll Be Back Home Again/ Long Tall Mama/ M And O Blues/ Milk Cow Blues/ Mississippi River Blues/ Mistreatin' Mamma Blues (11609)/ Mr. Conductor Man/ Rukus Juice Blues/ Serve It To Me Right/ Shelby County Blues/ Starvation Blues (80394)/ Too-too Train Blues (11605)/ Worrying You Off My Mind - Part 1/ Worrying You Off My Mind - Part 2/ You Do It (steele Smith, Vcl)

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5126 Complete Chronological Recordings Vol. 4 - 1935-36 ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 73 mins, recommended
Picking up the series from Document 5052, this disc continues the reissue of all of Bill's pre-war recordings. This disc features recordings made between July 1935 and April 1936. On almost all the tracks Bill is accompanied by the brilliant piano player Black Bob who provides beautiful accompaniments to Bill's warm vocals and rhythmic guitar. A couple of tracks feature Bill and Bob accompanied a gospel group The Chicago Sanctified Singers and one track features Bill as a member of The Hokum Boys with Casey Bill Weldon on slide guitar and Washboard Sam on washboard. The music is of a consistently high caliber and is less formulaic than some of his later 30s recordings. Generally very good sound. (FS)
BIG BILL BROONZY: Ash Hauler/ Bad Luck Blues/ Big Bill Blues/ Black Mare Blues/ Bricks In My Pillow/ Bull Cow Blues No. 3/ Down The Line Blues/ Evil Women Blues/ Good Liquor Gonna Carry Me Down/ I Can't Make You Satisfied/ I'm Just A Bum/ Keep Your Hands Off Her/ Low Down Woman Blues/ Married Life's A Pain/ Match Box Blues/ Mountain Blues/ Pneumonia Blues./ Tell Me What You Been Doing/ The Sun Gonna Shine In My Door Someday/ These Ants Keep Biting Me/ You Know I Need Lovin'/ THE CHICAGO SANCTIFIED SINGERS: I Ain't No Stranger Now/ Tell Me What Kind Of Man Jesus Is/ THE HOKUM BOYS: Keep Your Mind On It

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5127 Complete Chronological Recordings Vol. 5 - 1936-37 ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 75 mins, recommended
This disc features recordings made between May 1935 and January 1936. As with volume 4 most of the tracks find Bill in the company of the brilliant piano player Black Bob and often bass player Bill Settles. Highlights include the lyrical I'm A Southern Man, the lively Nancy Jane featuring Bill as a member of The Hokum Boys with Casey Bill Weldon on slide guitar, Oh, Babe (Don't Do Me That Way) with some nice mandolin by Charlie McCoy and more. Out With The Wrong Woman is a hokum number with Washboard Sam added on scat vocals and there are couple of songs with the Chicago Black Swans which was a variation on the popular Harlem Hamfats including a version of the popular Don't Tear My Clothes. Some of the material is a bit samey but it's generally pretty good. O.K. sound and informative notes by Keith Briggs. (FS)
BIG BILL BROONZY: Big Bill's Milk Cow No. 2/ Black Widow Spider/ Cherry Hill/ Come Up To My House/ Detroit Special/ Falling Rain/ Get Away/ Horny Frog (take 1)/ I'm A Southern Man/ Let's Reel And Rock/ Little Bug/ Lowland Blues/ My Big Money/ My Woman Mistreats Me/ Oh, Babe/ Seven-eleven/ Southern Flood Blues/ Terrible Flood Blues/ W.p.a. Blues/ You Know I Got A Reason/ THE CHICAGO BLACK SWANS: Don't Tear My Clothes No. 2/ You Drink Too Much/ THE HOKUM BOYS: Nancy Jane/ THE MIDNIGHT RAMBLERS: Out With The Wrong Woman

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5128 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 6 (1937) ● CD $15.98
26 tracks, 77 minutes, recommended
BIG BILL BROONZY: Barrel House When It Rains/ Come Home Early (tk. 1)/ Come Home Early (tk. 2)/ Come Home Early (tk. 3)/ Come Home Early (tk. 4)/ Evil Hearted Me/ Hattie Blues (tk. 1)/ Hattie Blues (tk. 2)/ Horny Frog (tk. 2)/ I Want My Hands On It (tk. 1)/ I Want My Hands On It (tk. 2)/ It's Too Late Now (tk. 1)/ Let Me Be Your Winder/ Louise Louise Blues (tk. 1)/ Louise Louise Blues (tk. 2)/ Made A Date With An Angel (tk. 1)/ Mean Old World (tk. 1)/ Mean Old World (tk. 2)/ My Gal Is Gone/ My Old Lizzie (tk. 2)/ You Do Me Any Old Way (tk. 1)/ You Do Me Any Old Way (tk. 2)/ THE MIDNIGHT RAMBLERS: Down In The Alley (tk. 1)/ Down In The Alley (tk. 2)/ Stuff They Call Money

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5129 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 7 (1937-38) ● CD $15.98
23 tracks, 65 minutes, recommended
BIG BILL BROONZY: Border Blues/ Good Boy/ Got To Get Ready Tonight/ Hattie Blues (tk. 3)/ I Want You By My Side/ I'll Do Anything For You/ I'll Start Cutting On You/ It's A Low Down Dirty Shame/ It's Your Time Now/ Let Me Dig It/ Made A Date With An Angel/ New Shake-em On Down (tk. 2)/ Night Time Is The Right Time No. 2/ Play Your Hand/ Sad Letter Blues/ Sad Pencil Blues/ Somebody's Got To Go (tk. 1)/ Sweetheart Land/ The Mill Man Blues/ Trucking Little Woman/ Unemployment Stomp/ W.p.a. Rag/ Why Do You Do That To Me

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5130 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 8 (1938-39) ● CD $15.98
23 tracks, 62 minutes, recommended

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5131 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 9 (1939) ● CD $15.98
23 tracks, 65 minutes, recommended
BIG BILL BROONZY: Cotton Choppin' Blues/ Don't You Be No Fool/ Don't You Want To Ride/ Down And Lost In Mind/ Dreamy Eyed Baby/ Hot Dog Mama/ I'm Still Your Sweetheart, Baby/ I. C. Blues/ Just A Dream No. 2/ Just Wondering/ Keep On A-smilin'/ Let's Have A Little Fun/ Messed Up In Love/ My Last Goodbye To You/ Oh Yes/ Please Be My So And So/ Ride, Alberta, Ride/ She Never/ Tell Me What I Done/ That's All Right Baby/ Too Many Drivers/ Woodie Woodie/ You Can't Win

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5132 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 10 (1940) ● CD $15.98
26 tracks, 74 minutes, recommended
BIG BILL BROONZY: Bed Time Blues/ Beedle Um Bum/ Brown Skin Shuffle/ Getting Older Every Day (tk. 1)/ Getting Older Every Day (tk. 2)/ Hit The Right Lick/ I Wonder What's Wrong With Me/ I'll Never Dream Again/ I've Got To Dig You/ Jivin' Mr. Fuller Blues/ Leap Year Blues/ Lone Wolf Blues/ Lonesome Road Blues/ Looking For My Baby/ Looking Up At Down/ Make My Get Away/ Medicine Man Blues/ Merry Go Round Blues (3039)/ Merry-go-round Blues (3309)/ Midnight Steppers/ Mistreatin' Mamma (18384)/ My Gal Is Gone/ Plow Hand Blues/ Selling That Stuff/ Serenade Blues/ Stove Pipe Stomp/ That Number Of Mine/ Too Too Train Blues (18383)/ What Is That She Got?/ When I Have Money/ You Better Cut That Out/ You Got To Hit The Right Lick

BIG BILL BROONZY Document DOCD 5133 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 11 (1940-42) ● CD $15.98
25 tracks, 71 minutes, recommended
Document's series of Broonzy's complete prewar recordings concludes with these six volumes of top-drawer country blues. Eleven volumes in all of these elemental tracks may be daunting for all but completists, so those who want just the pick of Broonzy's 1930-1942 recordings are directed toward the domestic compilation
Good Time Tonight (Columbia/Legacy CK 46219), an outstanding single disc with only slightly better sound. And I ought to point out to completists that they'll miss out on the odd alternate take (Milan CD CH-345, a rarities collection, picks up the slack). But the alternate takes are relatively few and not dramatically different from the released versions. There is, though, remarkably little fluff on these discs, as well as hundreds of terse, efficient, similar 12-bar excursions that make extremely clear why these recordings were so influentual to beginning bluesmen, both American and British, decades later. Every volume includes songs that became blues standards, though neophytes who don't want the Columbia set should probably start with Volume 11, which includes remarkable iterations of Key to the Highway, I Feel So Good, and All By Myself. Another winner is Volume 8, which includes a pair of tracks from John Hammond's legendary From Spirituals to Swing concert. Through these discs you can hear incremental shifts (by 1939, Broonzy was strumming an amplified axe), though they seem less incremental when heard in such large doses. If you love this stuff you're in for a thrill. (JG)
BIG BILL BROONZY: All By Myself/ Bad Acting Woman/ Conversation With The Blues/ Double Trouble/ Going Back To My Plow/ Green Grass Blues/ Hard Hearte Woman/ I Feel So Good/ I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town/ I'm Having So Much Trouble/ I'm Woke Up Now/ In The Army Now/ Keep Your Hand On Your Heart/ Key To The Highway/ My Little Flower/ Night Watchman Blues/ Rockin' Chair Blues/ She's Gone With The Wind/ Shine On, Shine On/ Sweet Honey Bee/ Tell Me Baby/ Wee Wee Blues/ What's Wrong With Me/ When I Been Drinking/ Why Should I Spend My Money

BIG BILL BROONZY Evidence 26062 Black, Brown & White ● CD $12.98
Reissue of Black & Blues 33.012 - half the tracks were recorded live in Antwerp in 1952 and the rest recorded in Brussels in 1955. A nice mixture of blues and folky material

BIG BILL BROONZY Fremeaux & Associes FQ2CD 252 Chicago, 1937-1945 ● CD $21.98
Two CD set.
BIG BILL BROONZY: All By Myself/ Baby, Don't You Remember?/ Doing The Best I Can/ Don't You Be No Fool?/ Down And Lost In Mind/ Getting Older Every Day/ Good Boy/ Hell Ain't But A Mile And A Quarter/ I Feel So Good/ I.c. Blues/ In The Army Now/ It's A Low Down Dirty Shame/ Jivin' Mr Fuller Blues/ Just A Dream No. 2/ Keep Your Hand On Your Heart/ Key To The Highway/ Living On Easy Street/ Looking For My Baby/ Looking Up At Down/ Mary Blues/ Midnight Steppers/ My Last Goodbye To You/ Night Time Is The Right Time/ Plow Hand Blues/ Rocking Chair Blues/ Roll Them Bones/ Sad Letter Blues/ Sad Pencil Blues/ Serenade Blues/ Sweet Honey Bee/ Tell Me Baby/ That's Allright, Baby/ Too Many Drivers/ What's Wrong With Me?/ When I Get To Thinkin'/ You Got The Best Go

BIG BILL BROONZY JSP JSPCD 7718 All the Classic Sides, 1928-1937 ● CD $28.98
5 CDs, 127 tracks, highly recommended
It is not just that he was in the top rank of pre war guitarists, or that he was a fine singer with a considerable facility as a songwriter - part of Big Bill's genius lay in a unique ability to convey in his work the warmth of his personality. Established as a star of the Chicago scene by the mid 1930s, he filled out his many recording sessions by adapting songs from common stock or other people's hits, but when inspired he could produce performances of breathtaking skill, and songs which were truly memorable and enduring. Among many examples of his best work in this excellent box set are driving, complex rags like Saturday Night Rub and Pig Meat Strut, flatpicking masterpieces such as Mistreatin' Mama and How You Want It Done, superb straight blues like Bull Cow Blues and the stunningly effective Southern Flood Blues, and the rollicking Good Liquor Gonna Carry Me Down. Suffice to say there is plenty here that is hugely enjoyable - we even get a version of C.C.Rider with Big Bill on violin! The present set ends about half way through his pre war output, but JSP are promising two more to complete the series. Aside from the many single disc compilations, all this material has of course been previously reissued on Document, principally on DOCD 5050/51/52, 5126, 5127 and the first four titles of 5128. Compared to the Document series five titles are missing, but as these are an accompaniment to the obscure Steele Smith, two gospel songs attributed to a Broonzy studio group and two by the State Street Boys on which Jazz Gillum takes vocal, the JSP set is stronger without them. In their place JSP have corrected the errors and omissions on the Document CDs (as reflected in Document's "Too Late, Too Late Blues " Volumes 1 and 4, DOCD 5150 and 5321) and added five extra tracks from Bill's work with the Famous Hokum Boys. Again the set benefits as a result, as it does from Neil Slaven's excellent notes. Detailed comparison with the Document reissues shows a significant improvement in sound quality, with noticeably less crackle and hiss. Having said that there is only so much that can be done with badly worn originals without compromising the music, and some titles are still pretty rough. Elsewhere sound is excellent, and when comparing tracks from compilations based on better condition sides, like Columbia's "Good Time Tonight" (Col 467247) the JSP set matches or improves upon the sound quality. In other words, unless a load of mint condition 78s turn up, this reissue is likely to be as good as it gets. With the amount of Big Bill material already issued it is difficult to call this an essential set - so let's just say it's an unmissable bargain. (DPR)

BIG BILL BROONZY Smithsonian Folkways 40023 Sings Folk Songs ● CD $15.98
Reissue of Folkways FA 2328, put together from tapes that Moe Asch made of Broonzy at various times. This Train/ Martha/ Tell Me No/ Bill Bailey/ Alberta/ John Henry/ Glory Of Love , etc.

BIG BILL BROONZY Smithsonian Folkways 40131 Trouble In Mind ● CD $15.98
Excellent collection of tracks recorded by this great bluesman for Moe Asch's Folkways and Disc labels in 1956 and '57 - Hey, Hey Baby/ Trouble In Mind/ Mule-Ridin' Blues/ Poor Bill Blues/ Ploough-Hand Blues/ When Things Go Wrong (It Hurts Me Too)/ Saturday Evening Blues/ Southbound Train/ Louise/ Willie Mae Blues, etc.

BIG BILL BROONZY Southland SCD 20 The Historic Concert Recordings ● CD $13.98
A collection of 20 sides recorded live in 1957 by this great performer. While few details are given I believe that 12 of the songs were recorded live at a concert in Norttingham, England in March, 1957 with the remaining 6 tracks recorded in Bill's dressing room after the show. These tracks feature Bill as the folksy raconteur performing many of ths songs that were standards of his repertoire at the time - This Train/ Willie Mae/ Glory Of Love/ What Kind Of Man, Jesus Is/ Nobody's Business If I Do/ The Feasting Table/ Swing Low, Sweet Chariot/ Pallet On The Floor, etc. Nice enough but if you are looking for some of his hard driving blues you will need to look elsewhere. Sound quality is excellent. (FS)

BIG BILL BROONZY Yazoo 1011 The Young Big Bill Broonzy ● CD $16.98
A dazzling collection of 14 of Bill's early recordings. Her is best known for his mid 30s recordings with small groups and his later more folky renditions for white audiences. However in his early days, his focus was on ragtime flavored uptempo items with his imaginative guitar excursions often accompanied on second guitar by Frank Brasswell, John Thomas and others along with the occasional piano of Tom Dorsey. This is a straight reissue of the album with no attempt to improve the sound (though, by no means bad, I think some of the hiss could have been reduced with contemporary techniques) and the same liner notes. (FS)
BIG BILL BROONZY: Banker's Blues/ Brownskin Shuffle/ Eagle Ridin' Papa/ Good Liquor Gonna Carry Me Down/ Hip Shakin' Strut/ Hokum Stomp/ How You Want It Done?/ I Can't Be Satisfied/ Long Tall Mama/ Mississippi River Blues/ Saturday Night Rub/ Skoodle Do Do/ Starvation Blues/ Stove Pipe Stomp

BIG BILL BROONZY Yazoo 1035 Do That Guitar Rag 1928-1935 ● CD $16.98
Mississippi country blues legend William Lee Conley Broonzy was born in 1893 and died in Chicago (where he lived and recorded for many years) in 1958. These sides circa 1928-35 are from Oriole and other "dimestore 78 labels" of the time, so some surface noise is inevitable. Fine minor chord guitar picking and singing. Includes the popular C&A Blues, the off-color Pussy Cat Blues, Terrible Operation (with Jane Lucas, voice, and Georgia Tom on piano), plus the mournfully beautiful Mr. Conductor Man and Big Bill Blues. Fourteen sides in all, as Yazoo LP. Good layman's notes by Stephen Calt and Woody Mann. (OLN)


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