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Arthur Williams -> Sonny Boy Williams



ARTHUR WILLIAMS Fedora 5013 Harpin' On It ● CD $15.98
New album from legendary St. Louis singer and harp player who was coached by Little Walter when he was a teenager!

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Arhoolie 315 Shake Your Boogie ● CD $12.98
Big Joe Williamson was a remarkable performer in many ways - unlike many of the country blues singers rediscovered by blues enthusiasts in the 60s, Joe had never retired from music or recordings. Starting with his first recordings in 1935 he was a regular visitor to the recording studio up until shortly before his death in 1982 at the age of 79. He was a brilliant performer with a unique style partly due to the use of a 9 string guitar, a creation he put together from parts of regular guitars. His material was a mixture of traditional songs, original songs and improvised combinations of traditional blues verses. The recordings here are from two different sessions in 1960 and 1969 and were previously issued on Arhoolie 1002 and Arhoolie 1053. The earlier sides are particularly fine and intense and include powerful versions of Sloppy Drunk Blues/ President Roosevelt/ Greystone Blues (about his recent experiences of being arrested and sent to jail) /Mean Stepfather/ Shake Your Boogie and others including a lovely version of the spiritual I Want My Crown sung by Joe's wife Mary. The later recordings are almost as good though the recordings are not as clear. Several tracks feature some rough slide playing from Joe. It includes a couple of topical songs (The Death Of Martin Luther King/ Army Man In Vietnam), a gospel song (King Jesus) plus Louisiana Bound/ Throw The Boogie Woogie/ Montreal Blues and others. Excellent sound and brief notes by Chris Strachwitz. Country blues of the very highest order. (FS)
BIG JOE WILLIAMS: Army Man In Vietnam/ Brother James/ Creole Queen/ Dirt Road Blues/ Forty Four Blues/ Greystone Blues/ I Want My Crown/ Killing Floor Blues/ King Jesus/ Louisiana Bound/ Mean Step Father/ Montreal Blues/ President Roosevelt/ Remember Way Back/ Shake Your Boogie/ She Left Me A Mule To Ride/ Sloppy Drunk Blues/ So Glad/ Take Me Out Of The Bottom/ The Death Of Dr. Martin Luther King/ Thinking Of What They Did To Me/ Throw The Boogie Woogie/ Vitamin A Blues/ Yo Yo Blues

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Blues Documents BDCD 6004 Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol. 2 ● CD $15.98
Continuing on from 6003 this disc features 19 tracks by Joe recorded between 1945 and '49 plus two cuts from 1935 by vocalist and washboard player Chasey Collins with joe on guitar and "Dad" Tracy on one string fiddle. The sound here is a little more urban than on the first volume - Joe is accompanied by a small group on most cuts with sensational harp by John Lee Williamson, drummer Jump Jackson or Judge Riley and bassist Ransom Knowling. The disc includes the incredibly rare and superb His Spirit Lives On - a moving tribute to the recently deceased President Roosevelt with remarkably effective washboard playing by Clifford Dinwaddie. Also featured are both sides of his rare 1949 Bullet recording - an intense performance with Joe playing amplified 9-string guitar. Like the first disc, this is one classic performance after another. Essential! (FS)

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Delmark 602 Piney Woods Blues ● CD $11.98
Reissue of first full Big Joe album recorded in 1958. 11 songs and a conversation with Joe. Four cuts feature J.D. Short on guitar or harmonica.

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Delmark 604 Blues On Highway 49 ● CD $15.98
Long out of print on LP these recordings make a most welcome reappearance on compact disc. Incredibly prolific in the 60s and 70s Big Joe was rarely at a loss for a good song even if much of it was reworkings of material he had recorded before. He was in top form on these recordings made in Chicago in 1961 with ferocious vocals and intense instrumental work on his unique 9 string guitar. On some tracks he is joined by veteran bass player Ransom Knowling whose accompaniments are appropriately sympathetic. Songs include Highway 49/ Blues Left Texas/ Down In The Bottom/ That Thing's In Town/ Tijuana Blues/ Arkansas Woman and 6 more. CD remastering is excellent. You won't go wrong with this one. (FS)
BIG JOE WILLIAMS: 45 Forty-five Blues/ Arkansas Woman/ Blues Left Texas/ Down In The Bottoms/ Four Corners Of The World/ Highway 49/ No. 13 Highway/ Overhaul Your Machine/ Poor Beggar/ That Thing's In Town/ Tiajuana Blues/ Walk On, Little Girl

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Delmark 627 Nine String Guitar Blues ● CD $11.98
Now on compact disc. 10 sides recorded in 1971 - some with Ransom Knowling/ bass - I Got The Best King Biscuit/ I Done Stop Hollerin'/ Stack Of Dollars/ My Baby Keeps Hanging Around/ Jump Baby - Jump!, etc.

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Evidence 26096 No More Whiskey ● CD $12.98
Excellent selection of 16 recordings made between 1973 and 1980 and originally issued on german L+R label. Most were recorded at Joe's home in Crawford, Mississippi and have a relaxed informal quality. Some of these songs will be familiar to Joe's fans but some are not as well known - Tailor Made Baby/ Dark Road Blues/ Delta Blues/ Don't Your House Look Lonesome, etc. Includes a few vocals from Lydia Carter and harmonica on one cut by Cooper Terry.

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Oldie Blues OLCD 7004 Malvina My Sweet Woman ● CD $22.98
CD issue of Oldie Blues 2804. 10 tracks are from 1951/52 demo recordings with very rough sound but some great music and the rest is from a 1973 concert in Holland.

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Smithsonian Folkways 40052 Mississippi's Big Joe Williams & His Nine-String Guitar ● CD $15.98
Reissue of 1962 Folkways album produced by Bob Koester. Some tracks feature legendary bass player Ransom Knowling. This reissue was remastered from original master tapes using the new HDC 24-bit mastering process.

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Testament 5013 Back To The Country ● CD $11.98
21 tracks, 57 min., Recommended. This reissue of Testament LP 2205 captures Big Joe Williams with fiddler/guitarist Jimmy Brown and harp blower Willie Lee Harris as they recreate the sound and feel of an old time country party. Thirteen tracks features Williams as vocalist, including a solo effort on Mean Backstabber, the pensive The Mood Is Rising, and two previously unissued cuts, Saturday Night Ball/ Goin' Back Home. Brown sings on 6 cuts, including the absorbing Woody Woodpecker, leaving Harris two opportunities (Worried And Lonesome/ Miss Ida B) to vocalize his blues. But Williams dominates the proceedings with his booming voice and impressing guitar work, and that's as it should be. Includes Pete Welding's original liner notes, as do other volumes in this excellent reissue series. (JC)

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Testament TCD 6010 These Are My Blues ● CD $13.98
One of the greatest country bluesmen recorded live at Rockford College, Illinois in 1965. Joe is in tremendous form on a wide variety of songs including old favorites like Baby Please Don't Go/ Mellow Peaches/ Good Morning Little Schoolgirl/ Sloppy Drunk, more recent compositions like Man Among Men and 56 Plymouth and even You Are My Sunshine - 17 in all. Joe's 9-string is amplified with heavy use of tremolo giving these recordings a unique feel.

BIG JOE WILLIAMS Wolf WBJ 003 Baby Please Don't Go ● CD $15.98
A fine cross section of the recordings of this great Mississippi bluesman made between 1935 and '47. These tracks are already available on Blues Documents CD 6003 & 6004 ($19.50 each) so this disc would only be useful if you don't want to spring for two discs (believe me, their worth it). Mind you, if you don't get this you'll miss out on another example of Wolf's amazing proof reading. I've always admired Big Joe's 9 string guitar playing but the liner notes here refer to "his world famous 'G-String Guitar'" - truly a sight to behold! Sometimes I think Wolf has Monty Python writing their sleeve notes. (FS)

JODY WILLIAMS Evidence 26120 Return Of A Legend ● CD $15.98
13 tracks, 56 mins, essential
Jody Williams is back .. with a vengeance! As Bill Dahl points out in his excellent notes the term "legend" is bandied about too freely these days but in the case of Jody Williams it's justified. He was among the most influential guitarists on the Chicago scene in the late 50s and early 60s but his name is not too well known as most of his work was as a session guitarist and he quit music in 1964 for a more secure job working for Xerox. Chances are you've heard him though as he has played on sessions by Howling Wolf, Jimmy Rogers, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Witherspoon and many others. The handful of singles issued under his own name are prized by collectors and held in awe by blues guitarists. After retiring from his day job in 1995 he finally allowed himself to be persuaded to perform and record again and under the expert guidance of his long time friend Dick Shurman who produced this album he has come up with what surely is going to be the new blues album of 2002. He is backed by solid rhythm section, occasional horns and occasional guest musicians (Billy Boy Arnold, Rusty Zinn, etc). The songs and tunes are all originals including remakes of some of his classic singles and a whole slew of new compositions. Jody is a tremendous singer with a powerful and warm quality and the slightly offhand approach is particularly suited to some of the wry songs he writes. His guitar playing is dazzling - not flashy, though he can play fast when necessary, but full of wonderfully constructed solos loaded with invention. If some of his licks sound familiar from other guitarists playing chances are Jody originated them! An exceptional release. (FS)

LEE SHOT WILLIAMS Black Magic 9029 Cold Shot ● CD $16.98
12 tracks, 57 mins, recommended
Fine, hard driving, uptown soul blues. Lee is a powerful singer and is accompanied by a top notch band featuring excellent guitar from Little Smokey Smothers and Straw Boss James Wheeler and top notch horn work. The material is mostly covers but Lee and his producer Dick Shurman have wisely chosen to avoid too many obvious titles. Outstanding tracks include Ray Charles' If It Wasn't For Bad Luck, Ray Agees' Love Is A Cold Shot, Albert King's Drowning On Dry Land plus some recent compositions from Bob Jones. The attempt at a smoochy soul ballad Neither One Of Us doesnt' quite come off but all the rest is fine indeed. If you like Stac period Albert King or Checker period Little Milton this is right up your alley. Packaging is real classy using a digipack which is vastly superior to jewel cases - I wish more labels would take this route. (FS)

LEE SHOT WILLIAMS Ecko 1006 Hot "Shot" ● CD $15.98
11 tracks, 50 minutes, very good
Shot is mostly known for his blues, singing in Detroit & Chicago with such greats as his cousin Smokey Smothers, Earl Hooker & Magic Sam, but this set finds Shot in a pure Southern Soul bag. Produced by Williams & John Ward, highlights include a You've Got To Try Me (great guitar solo), Make Me Holler, a remake of his hit I Like Your Style, & a great tune called I'll take The Risk which not only starts the disc off in fine form, but also closes it (not listed on the cover) in a re-mix.. (GM)

LESTER WILLIAMS Specialty 7037 I Can't Lose With The Stuff I Use ● CD $15.98
25 tracks, 62 min., recommended
First time ever complete Specialty collection of this fine Texas guitarist/ vocalist, who was inspired by the T-Bone Walker school of twang. Williams had a raunchy R&B style which brought him only fleeting fame with the title cut circa 1952, sandwiched between his earlier Macy recordings and his finest efforts for Duke in 1954. This set is made up almost exclusively of alternates and unissued gems, as Williams enjoyed only four releases on Specialty. Many are nice slow blues ballads punctuated by four different tenor sax sidemen over a period of two years. Johnnye Mae Brown tinkles around on piano while "Yogi" Adams slaps bass, and Luther B. Taylor, Jr. punishes drums. Modest notes, but high quality remastering by Kirk Felton at Fantasy. (OLN)

ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS Arhoolie 394 Vol 1 - I'm Blue As A Man Can Be ● CD $12.98
15 tracks, 69 mins, essential. See next review.
ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS: Angola Special/ Church On Fire #2 (*)/ Come Here Baby/ Help Me On My Way(*)/ I'm Blue As A Man Can Be/ Just Tippin' In (*)/ Levee Camp Blues/ Louise/ Motherless Children Have A Hard Time/ Pardon Denied Again (*)/ Please Lord/ So Much Is Happenin' In This Wicked World/ Texas Blues/ This Wild Old Life (*)/ Two Wings (*)/ Up And Down Blues

ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS Arhoolie 395 Vol 2 - When A Man Takes The Blues ● CD $12.98
14 tracks, 72 mins, essential
Discovered in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in 1959 by folklorist Harry Oster, Robert Pete Williams was one of the greatest and most unique blues discoveries of the period. He was an incredibly moving singer and a totally original guitar player whose modal technique and eccentric rhythm bears little resemblance to conventional blues guitar techniques but is eminently suitable to his free-form and often improvised vocal lines. Most of the material on these two discs were recorded by Oster in 1959 and 1960 when Robert was still in jail along with a few tracks recorded for Chris Strachwitz in 1970. Half of the recordings have never been issued before including his versions of a number of traditional and original gospel songs intended for a gospel album which never materialized. Even when singing familiar material like Two Wings, Louise or Motherless Children Have A Hard Time the material becomes uniquely his own. Most of the songs are originals and were often improvised on the spot including a couple about his life in Angola Pardon Denied Again and Levee Camp Blues that will not leave you unmoved. His ultimate masterpiece Prisoner's Talking Blues is not here but is promised for a future release. He plays both six and 12 string guitar and the second volume includes an 11 minute monologue in which he talks about his life, the inspiration for his music and how he ended up in prison for murder. Unfortunately, this ends too soon, as the tape ran out. First volume has interesting, if somewhat pompous, notes by Henry Kaiser and the second has notes by Chris Strachwitz. Robert Pete made beautiful, moving and challenging music - no easy listening here. If you can only get one then volume 1 has a slight edge but they are both essential releases. (FS)
ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS: All Night Long (*)/ Blue In Me/ Death Comes Creepin' In Your Room (*)/ Dyin' Soul/ Hot Springs Blues (Peetie Wheatstraw Blues) (*)/ I Got The Blues So Bad/ I Had Trouble (*)/ I Want To Die Easy (*)/ Robert Pete Williams Monologue (*)/ Santa Fe Blues/ Sinner Don't You Know (*)/ This Train Is Heaven Bound (*)/ When A Man Takes The Blues (*)/ Wife And Farm Blues (Take 2) (*)

ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS Arhoolie 511 Poor Bob's Blues ● CD $12.98
Two CDs, 19 tracks, essential
Fantastic two CD set (at a single CD price) featuring 19 previously unissued tracks by this unique bluesman recorded in the late 50s and early early sixties for folklorist Harry Oster. Robert Pete Williams was one of the greatest and most unique blues discoveries of the period. He was an incredibly moving singer and a totally original guitar player whose modal technique and eccentric rhythm bears little resemblance to conventional blues guitar techniques but is eminently suitable to his free-form and often improvised vocal lines. His songs, often are intensely introspective and frequently deeply personal - sometimes referring to his stay in prison where he was first discovered by Oster. Even when he performs an old blues favorite like Matchbox Blues or Poor Boy, Long Way From Home they end up becoming uniquely Robert Pete's. The opening track My Mind Wandering Around is unique even in Robert Pete's ouevre being an incredible six minute acapella performances which deals with some of the same topics as his songs but given a field holler treatment. The second disc ends with a folk tale called Tom And The Old Master featuring interjections from his guitar. If you're looking for blues as entertainment you'll need to look elsewhere - this is music that plumbs deep into the heart and and soul of the performer and demands your full attention. A superb collection with excellent notes by Elijah Wald. And if you don't already have them you should heck out Arhoolie 394 and 395 which features more of Oster's great recordings of Robert Pete. (FS)

ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS Fat Possum 80349 Robert Pete Williams ● CD $14.98
CD issue of 1971 Ahura Mazda album by this great and idiosyncratic Louisiana country bluesman. Includes his tribute to fellow Louisiana bluesman in Goodbye Slim Harpo and others like Rub Me Until My Love Come Down/ Got Me Way Down here/ Railroad Blues/ Tombstone Blues/ Vietnam Blues and others featuring his powerful and emotion charged voice and original guitar stylings.

ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS Sonet 986 925-5 The Sonet Blues Story ● CD $13.98
9 superb sides originally issued on Sonet and GNP in 1972.

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