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NEWSLETTER #139
Blues & Gospel
Percy Mayfield ->
Jimmy Witherspoon
 

 

MEMPHIS SLIM Sonet 986 925-3 The Sonet Blues Story ● CD $13.98
The ubiquitous singer and piano player recorded in 1972 with a small band with Billy Butler/ guitar, Eddie Chamblee/ tenor sax and others and originally issued by Sonet in Europe and GNP in the USA. Good performances of mostly familiar songs but nothing really exceptional. Includes Everyday (I Have The Blues)/ A Long Time Gone/ Strange Strange Feeling/ Broadway Boogie/ Freedom, etc.

 
JOHNNY RAWLS & THE RAYS TopCat 7052 No Boundaries ● CD $14.98
9 tracks, 52 min., highly recommended
Rawls lends his lightly-graveled vocals to a set of originals (written by bassist Bob Trenchard) that move comfortably from blues to soul and back again. The Rays more than carry their weight, pumping out economical and sympathetic backing for Rawls' expressive if somewhat limited singing. Nice to hear such a fine set of new blues tunes instead of merely warmed over covers. But why is Rawls posing in all the photos with a guitar if he's only listed as the vocalist? Let the man play! (JC)

 
OTIS RUSH Sonet 986 925-9 The Sonet Blues Story - Troubles, Troubles ● CD $13.98
12 tracks, recommended
Reissue of 1977 album made for the Swedish Sonet label in Sweden with the band touring with Otis - Bob Levis/ rhythm guitar, Bob Stroger/ bass and Jesse Lewis Allen/ drums plus one cut with Alan Batts on piano and organ. Coming on the heels of his masterpiece "Right Place, Wrong Time" and a couple of fine Delmark albums this one was somewhat lost in the shuffle. Subsequently it was released by Alligator as "Lost In The Blues" (still available), remixed and edited and with Lucky Peterson dubbed in on piano and organ which caused consternation among some blues enthusiasts. This is the original undubbed version though it sounds like it has been remixed to make it sounds a bit punchier. This CD also adds two bonus alternate takes. This album does not rate among Otis's better efforts - his singing and playing are a little too restrained and the material is not particularly striking (Hold That Train/ Little Red Rooster/ You Don't Have To Go/ Baby What You Want Me To Do, etc) but even when not in top form Otis is better than most with his aching vocals and soaring liquid guitar runs. Worth a listen. (FS)

 
J.D. SHORT Sonet 986 925-4 The Sonet Blues Story - A Last Legacy Of Blues ● CD $13.98
10 tracks, 48 mins, highly recommended
Reissue 1972 Sonet/ GNP LP. Wonderful country blues recorded in St. Louis in 1962. Short (who also made some superb recordings in the pre-war era - see Document 5147) is a stunning singer - intense, melodic and with a very effective vibrato which earned him the nickname "Jelly Jaw" on a couple of his early sides. His guitar playing is not quite as strong as on his early sides but is powerful and effective and he also plays fine harmonica on a rack. Although he had lived in St. Louis since 1923 his music was essentially Mississippi Delta blues. It is strongly rooted in traditional themes but completely individualized with very little evident influence from other performers. If you like unsullied country blues this is the real thing! (FS)

 
HUBERT SUMLIN Shout Factory 31156 Hubert Sumlin's Blues Party ● CD $11.98
10 tracks, 37 min., essential
That's Sumlin's guitar on Howlin' Wolf's original Chess recordings of The Red Rooster and Spoonful and on 23 years' worth of other Wolfish blues. His guitar work was as unorthodox as Howlin' Wolf was powerful, which is plenty. One listen to the incendiary string work on West Side Soul and listeners will immediately understand the Sumlin magic. Party goers include Ronnie Earl, whose guitar is heard through the right channel (with Sumlin's on the left), and Ron Levy on various keys. The addition of soul man Mighty Sam (McClain) lending his Bobby Blandish vocals on four cuts (Hidden Charms, A Soul That's Been Abused, Can't Call You No More, Down In The Bottom) is by itself more than enough reason to recommend this album. A short show at 37:22 but sweet while it lasts. Originally released on Black Top Records (BT-1036) in 1987, this album might be the best blues reissue of the year. (JC)

 
HUBERT SUMLIN Shout Factory 31157 Healing Feeling ● CD $11.98
11 tracks, 44 min., highly recommended
The lead guitar on Howlin' Wolf's songs from 1953-76 (minus a one-year stint with Muddy Waters) was Sumlin's. That's all the introduction anyone should need. As this reissue of a Black Top Records album (BT-1053) originally released in 1990 (his 2nd on that label) demonstrates, Sumlin's guitar work is still as frenetic and compelling as ever, the instrumental title track being a scorching case in point. Sumlin turns in a few vocal performances, but James "Thunderbird" Davis' voice on the first cut (I Don't Want To Hear About Yours) sets the bar higher than Sumlin can reach. But it doesn't matter because his guitar is the show. Tracks include Play It Cool, Down The Dusty Road, Just Like I Treat You, Blue Shadows, and more. Another well-chosen Black Top reissue from the folks at Shout Factory. (JC)

 
SUNNYLAND SLIM Sonet 986 925-7 The Sonet Blues Story ● CD $13.98
10 tracks, 39 tracks, recommended
Sunnyland Slim was one of those legends who was almost incapable of making a bad record with his energetic vocals and soulful piano work and this album is no exception. Slim was equally confortable with a band or solo and this set finds him solo on a selection of fine songs - nothing too original - but all performed in Slim's usual forthright manner. Slim was a bluesman, pure and simple, with no artifice and that's about all you really need to know. One criticism about this album is the over use of echo on his voice - without it I would rate it highly recommended. (FS)

 
THE SWAN SILVERTONES Charly SNAPCD 188 Move Up ● CD $13.98
28 tracks, 78 mins, essential
A beautiful collection of tracks recorded for Vee-Jay by this superb group, covering the period from their first Vee-Jay session in 1956 through their last in 1964. Their Vee-Jay recordings features leads by the magnificent high ethereal tenor (and sometimes falsetto) Claude Jeter or the powerful baritone of Paul Owens, Dewey Young or Louis Johnson. Jeter and his sweet falsetto have had more than a little influence on countless soul acts, Al Green and The Temptations among them. It is difficult to overstate his importance to both soul and gospel. The material ranged from the classic harmony quartet style of Sinner Man to the more intense style that influenced soul music. This set features one magnificent performance after another ending with their utterly sublime rendition of The LOrd's Prayer - if this doesn't send a chill down your spine you might want to see a chriropracter! (FS)

 
BIG MAMA THORNTON Arhoolie 9056 In Europe ● CD $9.98
17 tracks, 79 mins, highly recommended
Terrific collection of sides recorded in England in 1965 during the American Folk Blues Festival tour of Europe. This is a reissue of Arhoolie 1028 with three previously unissued songs, two alternate takes and a fascinating 15 minute interview with Arhoolie's founder Chris Strachwitz. Big Mama was in great form belting out songs as only she could backed on most tracks by a tough little band including Buddy Guy (in fine form), Eddie Boyd and others. On three tracks she is accompanied only by Fred McDowell on slide guitar which are truly sublime and show that as powerful as her vocals can be she could also sing with remarkable subtlety and sensitivity. The CD comes with a 12 page booklet with new notes by Strachwitz and some great photos taken on the tour. (FS)

 
BIG JOE TURNER Proper BOX 89 Shout, Rattle And Roll ● CD $24.98
4 discs, 100 tracks, essential
It seems strange that someone who made his name first in the 1938 "Spirituals To Swing" concert would end up being one of the first Rock'n'Roll stars, but this set shows the seamless transition & how the rock sides weren't that much different from the boogie. Starting off as a blues shouter with boogie piano king Pete Johnson, Joe was there when the Boogie Woogie craze started in Carnegie Hall with the Spirituals Concert & the three pianos of Johnson, Albert Ammons & Meade Lux Lewis. Joe's heard with Johnson on It's All Right Baby & soon the two recorded for Vocalion - as a duo, with the immortal Roll'em Pete, with the other two boogie greats as Albert, Meade & Lux & Their 3 Pianos & as Pete Johnson & His Boogie Woogie Boys with the likes of Buster Smith & Hot Lips Page (Cherry Red). After that there was a long run at Decca,(40-44) including sessions with Art Tatum on piano, then National, where he cut the classic SK Blues & Aladdin where he teamed with Wynonie Harris on the two parter Battle Of The Blues. Then after some label hopping, which included a New Orleans session for Imperial backed by the Dave Bartholomew Orch. The set ends at Atlantic for some sides cut '51-54 & included the early rock classics Honey Hush (with Fats Domino on piano), Oke-She-Moke-She-Mop/ TV Mama with Elmore James on guitar & of course Shake Rattle & Roll. With 48 page booklet. (GM)
BIG JOE TURNER: (New) Wee Baby Blues/ Adam Bit The Apple/ After A While/ After My Laughter Came Tears/ Around The Clock Blues Pt 1/ Around The Clock Blues Pt 2/ Baby I Still Want You/ Back Breaking Blues/ Battle Of The Blues Pt 1/ Battle Of The Blues Pt 2/ Blues In The Night/ Boogie Woogie Baby/ Born To Gamble/ Bump Miss Suzie/ Café Society Rag/ Chains Of Love/ Cherry Red/ Christmas Date Boogie/ Crawdad Hole/ Cry Baby Blues/ Dawn Is Breaking Through/ Don't You Cry/ Empty Pocket Blues/ Feeling Happy/ Fuzzy Wuzzy Honey/ Goin' Away Blues/ Goin' To Chicago (Blues)/ Hollywood Bed/ Honey Hush/ How Long How Long Blues/ Howlin' Winds/ I Can't Give You Anything But Love/ I Don't Dig It (1)/ I Don't Dig It (2)/ I Got A Gal (For Every Day Of The Week)/ I Got Love For Sale/ I Love Ya I Love Ya I Love Ya/ I'll Never Stop Loving You/ I'm In Sharp When I Hit The Coast/ I'm Still In The Dark/ In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)/ It's A Low Down Dirty Shame (Playboy Blues)/ It's All Right Baby/ It's The Same Old Story/ Joe Turner Blues/ Johnson & Turner Blues/ Jumpin' At The Jubilee/ Jumpin' Tonight (Midnight Rockin')/ Just A Travelin' Man/ Life Is Just A Card Game/ Little Bittie Gal's Blues/ Love My Baby (Little Bitty Baby)/ Lovin' Mama Blues/ Low Down Dirty Shame/ Low Down Dog/ Lucille/ Lucille/ Mad Blues/ Married Woman/ Midnight Cannonball/ Morning Glory/ My Gal's A Jockey/ My Heart Belongs To You/ Nobody In Mind/ Oke-She-Moke-She-Pop/ Old Piney Brown Is Gone/ Ooo-Ouch Stop/ Piney Brown Blues/ Poor Lover's Blues/ Radar Blues/ Rainy Weather Blues/ Rebecca/ Rock Me Mama/ Rock Of Gibraltar Blues/ Rocks In My Bed/ Rocks In My Bed/ Roll ‘Em Pete/ S.K. Blues/ S.K. Blues Pt 1/ S.K. Blues Pt 2/ Sally Zu-Zazz/ Shake It And Break It/ Shake Rattle And Roll/ Still In Love (With You)/ Still In The Dark/ Story To Tell/ Sun Risin' Blues/ Sunday Morning Blues/ Sweet Sixteen/ Tell Me Pretty Baby (How D'ya Want Your Rollin' Done)/ That's When It Really Hurts/ The Chill Is On/ Tv Mama/ Watch That Jive/ Well All Right/ When The Rooster Crows/ Whistle Stop Blues/ Wine-O-Baby Boogie/ Wish I Had A Dollar/ You Know I Love You

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Ace CDCHK 1076 Ace 30th Birthday Celebration - Blues & R&B ● CD $11.98
One of a series of budget priced 20 track collections drawn from Ace's extensive catalog as part of a celebration of Ace's 30 years of being one of the greatest reissue labels in the world. This volume features blues and some R&B including sides by Elmore James, John Lee Hooker, Joe Hill Louis, B.B. King, The Three Bits Of Rhythm, Big Duke Henderson & His Orch., Little Willie Little Littlefield, Lil Greenwood, Helen Humes, Jennell Hawkins with Richard Berry & The Lockettes and more.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Archeophone 1005 Lost Sounds - Blacks & the Birth Of The Recording Industry ● CD $26.98
Two CDs, 54 tracks, 154 mins, essential
Fabulous and important collection featuring some of the earliest recordings of African-American music made between 1891 and 1922. This set complements Tim Brooks's groundbreaking book of the same name (available from Roots & Rhythm - $65 - counts as 14 CDs for shipping) which documented the lives and music of the many black artists who recorded well before the 1920s which is the era usually associated with the beginning recordings of black music. Although there is not much here that will appeal directly to diehard blues fans there is much music of great interest and appeal including quartets singing spirituals and secular songs, the first recording of a minstrel group, jazz precursors like Europe's Society Orchestra and Wilbur C. Sweatman and much more including classical performances, novelty songs, comedy routines and a recording from 1891 of The Whistling Coon by George W. Johnson - one of the very first recordings of a black artist who had previously recorded the same song a year earlier and recorded the songs several more times as it was a big "hit." Johnson is thought to have recorded as early as 1878. There are also fascinating spoken word pieces from boxer Jack Johnson and the great black leader Booker T. Washington. Archeophone have done a truly remarkable job in sound restoration and in spite of the age, rarity and wear of these recordings the sound quality is highly listenable and enjoyable in their own right. The aforementioned George W. Johnson cylinder was broken in several pieces when found but you'd never know it. A couple of tracks were in such bad condition that very little could be done to improve the sound but are included because of their historical importance. Includes a 60 page illustrated booklet with notes by Brooks and full recordings information. Congratulation to Archeophone for doing such a splendid job in making these important historical recordings available in such an appealing form. (FS)
AFRO-AMERICAN FOLK SONG SINGERS: Swing Along (1914)/ The Rain Song (1914)/ THE APOLLO JUBILEE QUARTET: Shout All Over God's Heaven (1912)/ Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (1912)/ EUBIE BLAKE TRIO: Sarah from Sahara (1917)/ BLAKE'S JAZZONE ORCHESTRA: The Jazz Dance (1917)/ EDWARD H. S. BOATNER: Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child (1919)/ HARRY T. BURLEIGH: Go Down Moses (1919)/ WILBUR C. SWEATMAN: Down Home Rag (1916)/ CHARLEY CASE: Experiences in the Show Business (1909)/ CIRO'S CLUB COON ORCHESTRA: On the Shore at Le-Lei-Wei (1916)/ CARROLL CLARK: Old Dog Tray (1910)/ FLORENCE COLE–TALBERT: Villanelle (1919)/ OPAL COOPER (1917): Beans, Beans, Beans/ COUSINS AND DEMOSS: Poor Mourner (1898)/ Who Broke the Lock (1898)/ THOMAS CRAIG: Old Black Joe (1898)/ FORD DABNEY'S BAND: Camp Meeting Blues (1919)/ R. NATHANIEL DETT: Barcarolle (1919)/ THE DINWIDDIE COLORED QUARTET: Down on the Old Camp Ground (1902)/ LIEUT. JIM EUROPE'S 369TH U. S. INFANTRY "HELL FIGH: Darktown Strutters' Ball (1919)/ EUROPE'S SOCIETY ORCHESTRA: Down Home Rag (1913)/ FISK UNIVERSITY JUBILEE QUARTET: Little David, Play on Yo' Harp-Shout All Over God's Heaven (1909)/ THE FOUR HARMONY KINGS: Goodnight Angeline (1921)/ W. C. HANDY'S MEMPHIS BLUES BAND: St. Louis Blues (1922)/ ROLAND HAYES: Vesti la Giubba (1918)/ GEORGE W. JOHNSON: Carving the Duck (1903)/ Listen to the Mocking Bird (1896)/ The Laughing Coon(ca. 1898)/ The Laughing Song (excerpt)(ca. 1894–98)/ The Whistling Coon (1891)/ The Whistling Girl (1898)/ JACK JOHNSON: My Own Story of the Big Fight, Part 1 (1910)/ MEMPHIS PICKANINNY BAND: Some Jazz Blues (1917)/ POLK MILLER AND HIS OLD SOUTH QUARTET: Jerusalem Mornin' (1909)/ THE ORIOLE QUARTETTE: Brother Michael, Won't You Hand Down that Rope(ca. 1895-1896)/ THE RIGHT QUINTETTE: Exhortation (1915)/ The Rain Song (1915)/ NOBLE SISSLE (1920): Great Camp Meetin' Day/ LEN SPENCER AND GEORGE W. JOHNSON: The Merry Mail Man (1906)/ SPENCER, WILLIAMS & QUINN'S IMPERIAL MIN: Minstrel First Part, (featuring "The Laughing Song" (ca. 1894)/ THE STANDARD QUARTETTE: Keep Movin' (1894)/ WILBUR C. SWEATMAN'S ORIGINAL JAZZ BAND: Ev'rybody's Crazy 'Bout the Doggone Blues (1918)/ DAISY TAPLEY AND CARROLL CLARK: I Surrender All (1910)/ TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE SINGERS: Good News (1914)/ THE UNIQUE QUARTETTE: Mamma's Black Baby Boy (1893)/ Who Broke the Lock(ca. 1895)/ LOUIS VASNIER: Adam and Eve and de Winter Apple (ca. 1893)/ BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: Atlanta Exposition Speech (1908)/ CLARENCE CAMERON WHITE: Lament (1919)/ BERT WILLIAMS: Nobody (1906)/ WILLIAMS AND WALKER: My Little Zulu Babe (1901)/ EDWARD STERLING WRIGHT: When de Co'n Pone's Hot-Possum (1913)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Blue Lake 55100 Rare Chicago R&B Vol. 1 ● CD $16.98
25 tracks, 68 mins, highly recommended
Although Chicago is strongly associated with a down home blues style there was also an active jump and urban blues scene and this disc explores some of these lesser known but fine recordings. The set opens with the jivey I've Got A Crazy Baby by fairly prolific Dr. Jo Jo Adams and continues with very fine female vocalist Lou Mac who is featured on three songs including the splendid Move Me. Other fine female vocalists here include Helen Thompson, Mitzi Mars (including an answer to Willie Mabon's I'm Mad called I'm Glad) and Nelda Dupuy. On the male front are fine performers like Leon D. Tarver, Eddy Ware (his great Lima Beans), George Green, Browley Guy and Joe Buckner. The tracks by Danny Overbea and Stomp Gordon are pretty expendable. The set is rounded out with two fine instrumentals by John "Schoolboy" Porter and His Schoolboys. Many of these tracks are making their first appearance on CD. Sound quality is excellent and the booklet has notes on all the performers. (FS)
DR. JO JO ADAMS: I've Got A Crazy Baby/ JOE BUCKNER WITH TOMMY DEAN'S ORCH.: Eventime/ NELA DUPUY: Riding With The Blues/ STOMP GORDON: Don't Do Me That Way/ The Grind/ GEORGE GREEN: Finance Man/ RUDY GREEN: Meet Me Baby/ It's You I Love/ I Had A Feeling/ BROWLEY GUY & THE SKYSCRAPERS: Blues Train/ You Ain't Gonna Worry Me/ LOU MAC: Baby/ Move Me/ Slow Down/ MITZI MARS WITH SAX MALLARD & ORCH.: I'm Glad/ Roll 'Em/ DANNY OVERBEA: Ebony Chant/ Stomp And Whistle/ JOHN "SCHOOLBOY" PORTER & HIS SCHOOLBOYS: Walk Heavy/ SCHOOLBOY PORTER & HIS SCHOOLBOYS: Soft Shoulder/ LEON TARVER: Oh Baby I'm Blue/ LEON D. TARVER & THE CHORDONES: I'm A Young Rooster/ Ooh-Wee What's Wrong With Me?/ HELEN THOMPSON: Going Down To Big Mary's/ EDDIE WARE & HIS BAND: Lima Beans

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Cee-Jay 579 New York Tracks - Downhome Blues In The City, 1955-64 ● CD $16.98
23 tracks, 57 mins, highly recommended
Fine selection of New York blues though a fair amount of the tracks have been out before though not in this setting. Lots of treats for guitar fans with fine guitar led instrumentals from Fender Guitar Slim, The Charlie Lucas Combo and Roy Gaines. Several tracks feature the brilliant, distinctive guitar of Jimmy Spruill - most notably on Little Danny's ferocious Mind On Loving and Wilbert Harrison's delightful Drafted. Lee Roy Little's three sides have a commercial flavor with their vocal choruses but have a fine loping feel to them. Other artists include the Jimmy Reed flavored B. Brown & His Rockin' McVouts, Little Terry, Bobby Long, Little Marie Allen and others. Sound quality is excellent and there is a four page booklet with notes on the performers. (FS)
LITTLE MARIE ALLEN WITH CHUCK BOOKER'S BAND: Humdinger/ Oh, Oh, I'm In Love/ B. BROWN & HIS ROCKIN' MCVOUTS: Chewing Gum/ My Baby Left Me/ Rockin With "B"/ FENDER "GUITAR SLIM" AND ORCH.: Atomic Blues/ FENDER "GUITAR SLIM" & ORCH.: Tender Rock/ ROY GAINES: Gainsville/ WILBERT HARRISON: Drafted/ Kansas City Twist/ LEE ROY LITTLE: Hurry Baby Please Come Home/ WHISKEY LEE ROY LITTLE: Let Me Go Home/ LITTLE DANNY: Mind On Loving/ LITTLE TERRY: Shake Me Up Baby/ BOBBY LONG: I Need You/ Jersey City/ CHARLIE LUCAS COMBO: Jump For Joy/ Walkin'/ BROWNIE MCGHEE: Anna Mae/ HAL PAIGE & THE WHALERS: After Hours Blues/ RIFF RUFFIN: Hoop and Holler/ Plain English/ DRINK SMALL & HIS GUITAR: I Love You Alberta

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS El Toro 106 What's Your Name? ● CD $18.98
28 tracks, 74 mins, recommended
Fine 28 track collection of blues and R&B from the 40s and early 50s with songs devoted to special women - Emmitt Slay tells us about Beaulah, Bull Moose Jackson extols the virtues of Miss Lucy, Roy Milton waxes enthusiastic about Thelma Lou plus more songs from Frank "Fat Man: Humphries, Doc Pomus All Stars, Cousin Joe, Calvin Boze and others. Quite a few of the tracks have been out before but the context here makes for particularly entertaining listening. Fine sound and informative notes by Dave Penny. (FS)
MAX BAILEY: Betty Jane/ EDDIE BOYD & HIS BOOGIE BAND: Rosa Lee Swing/ CALVIN BOZE & HIS ALL STARS: Good Time Sue/ ROY BROWN: New Rebecca/ COUSIN JOE WITH PETE BROWN'S BROOKLYN BL: Boogie Woogie Hannah/ THE FOUR BLAZES: Mary Jo/ WYNONIE HARRIS & HIS ALL STARS: I Want My Fanny Brown/ DUKE HENDERSON WITH KING PERRY ORCH: Leona's Boogie/ FRANK "FAT MAN" HUMPHRIES & HIS ORCH: Lulubell Blues/ BULL MOOSE JACKSON: Miss Lucy/ SMILEY LEWIS: Lillie Mae/ JIMMY "BABY FACE" LEWIS WITH FLOYD CAMPBELL ORCH.: Josephine/ JOE LIGGINS & HIS HONEYDRIPPERS: Frankie Lee/ BUDDY LUCAS & HIS ORCH: Pea Lilly/ JOE LUTCHER & HIS BAND: Lucy Lindy Boogie/ MANHATTAN PAUL WITH PAUL BASCOMB ORCH: Two Ton Tessie/ MEMPHIS EDDIE: Velma Lee/ ROY MILTON & HIS SOLID SENDERS: Thelma Lou/ PAUL MONDAY WITH BILL HARVEY'S BAND: Irene's Boogie/ MOOHAH: Candy/ FORD NELSON QUINTET: Little Annie/ DOC POMUS ALL STARS: Work Little Carrie/ FAT MAN ROBINSON: Bye Bye Roberta/ Sophronia Jones/ EMMITT SLAY WITH TODD RHODES & HIS TODDLERS: Beulah/ JOE SWIFT WITH JOHNNY OTIS ORCH.: What's Your Name?/ RUBBER LEGS WILLIAMS: Susie Bee Blues/ JIMMY WILSON & HIS ALL STARS: Ethel Lee

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS JSP JSPCD 7754 Atlanta Blues - Big City Blues From The Heartland ● CD $28.98
4 CDs, 101 tracks, essential
Not sure about the subtitle though. What about the pre-blues, country dance tunes, gospel songs, old time medleys, vaudeville songs? Still, there are also some excellent blues, such as My Mamma Was A Sailor by Julius Daniels, which opens this set. Daniels was a fine singer and guitarist who must have had an amazing repertoire, judging from the few titles he recorded. He certainly leaves you wishing he'd recorded more. Someone who did was Curley Weaver, and here are his complete pre war recordings, plus six tracks from 1949. [Contrary to the impression given in Neal Slaven's otherwise informative booklet notes, Weaver did make some further recordings in the company of Blind Willie McTell. These were reissued, in superlative sound, on Blind Willie McTell / Pig 'n Whistle Red, Biograph 30171 Weaver was a talented if not particularly distinctive performer whose first session produced No No Blues, a very effective song with a driving guitar part and on which he sounds remarkably like Barbecue Bob. By the time though you have heard another three versions plus two with different lyrics you will probably have had enough of it. Unfortunately appreciation of his pre war work is hampered in many cases by poor sound quality. There are no such problems with discs three and four. The third features Peg Leg Howell, whose recordings blues historian Paul Oliver rates "among the most important documentations of the early blues". Fair comment, but it is odd that, apart from the complete works on Matchbox (MBCD 2004/5), Howell has been largely neglected by other reissue companies, at least in recent times. He had a gift for refashioning songs he had learned in rural Georgia (including white country music) as well as for original compositions like the excellent Low Down Rounder's Blues. On such solo sides his fingerpicking was varied, and his heavy voice with its lugubrious tone was well suited to his blues. Elsewhere he was supported by his "gang" of street musicians including the rough "alley fiddle" of his friend Eddie Anthony. Some of Howell's best work has few equivalents in pre war blues, like Coal Man Blues with its street vendors' cries or Please Ma'am, an "over and over" song pleading against rejection, where the repetition of a few phrases becomes like some kind of extended mantra. There is plenty to enjoy in all these tracks, from Beaver Slide Rag, a perfect country dance tune, to the acknowledged masterpiece of Skin Game Blues. The final disc concludes Peg Leg's legacy and presents other recordings by members of his gang. Highlights include Georgia Crawl by Henry Williams and Eddie Anthony and the second session of Anthony (recording as Macon Ed) with guitarist Tampa Joe, which culminates with Warm Wipe Stomp (worth having just for the title!). Vaudeville singer "Sloppy" Henry provides variety and a memorable Canned Heat Blues before songster Lil McClintock delivers Furniture Man and Don't Think I'm Santa Claus. McClintock's performances were representative of an older style in 1930 but still sound wonderfully fresh today (an alternate take of Furniture Man, omitted here, was on Document DOCD 5160. "Sloppy" Henry's other sessions were on Document DOCD 5380 and 5482). Sound quality shows a worthwhile improvement on corresponding Document/Matchbox reissues, and is generally very good apart from some worn Curley Weaver sides. The sound of two postwar Weaver tracks duplicated on Biograph 30171 is however slightly better on the Biograph reissue. Finally, the format of discs three and four here represents an improvement over the Matchbox discs, in that all the Peg Leg Howell sides are presented together rather than being split up by recordings of his associates. Altogether this is another important set, full of fascinating and unique recordings. (DPR)
JULIUS DANIELS: Can't Put The Bridle On The Mule This Morning (Take 1)/ Can't Put The Bridle On The Mule This Morning (Take 2)/ Crow Jane Blues/ I'm Goin' To Tell God How You Doin'/ My Mamma Was A Sailor/ Ninety-Nine Year Blues (Take 1)/ Ninety-Nine Year Blues (Take 2)/ Richmond Blues (Take 1)/ Richmond Blues (Take 2)/ Slippin' And Slidin' Up The Golden Street (Tak 3)/ Slippin' And Slidin' Up The Golden Street (Take 2)/ THE GEORGIA BROWNS: Decatur Street 81/ It Must Have Been Her/ Joker Man/ Next Door Man (Take 1)/ Next Door Man (Take 2)/ Tampa Strut/ Who Stole De Lock/ 'SLOPPY' HENRY: Canned Heat Blues/ Long, Tall, Disconnected Mama/ Royal Palm Special Blues/ Say I Do It/ PEG LEG HOWELL: Away From Home/ Ball And Chain Blues/ Banjo Blues/ Beaver Slide Rag/ Broke And Hungry Blues/ Chittlin' Supper/ Coal Man Blues/ Doin' Wrong/ Fairy Blues/ Fo' Day Blues/ Hobo Blues/ Low-Down Rounder Blues/ Moanin' And Groanin' Blues/ Monkey Man Blues/ New Jelly Roll Blues/ New Prison Blues/ Papa Stobb Blues/ Peg Leg Stomp/ Please Ma'am/ Rock And Gravel Blues/ Rolling Mill Blues/ Sadie Lee Blues/ Skin Game Blues/ Tishamingo Blues/ Too Tight Blues/ Turkey Buzzard Blues/ Turtle Dove Blues/ Walkin' Blues/ MACON ED & TAMPA JOE: Everything's Coming My Way/ Mean Florida Blues/ Tantalizing Bootblack/ Tickle Britches/ Try That Thing/ Warm Wipe Stomp/ Worrying Blues/ Wringing That Thing/ LILLIE MAE: Bootie Wah Bootie/ Buggy Jail House Blues/ Mama Don't Want It/ Wise Like That/ LIL MCCLINTOCK: Don't Think I'm Santa Claus/ Furniture Man/ Mother Called Her Child To Her Dying Bed/ Sow Good Seeds/ CURLEY WEAVER: . Tricks Ain't Walking No More/ Baby Boogie Woogie/ Birmingham Gambler/ Black Woman/ Brown Skin Woman/ City Cell Blues/ Dirty Deal Blues/ Dirty Mistreater/ Early Morning Blues/ Early Morning Blues/ Empty Room Blues/ Fried Pie Blues/ I Keep On Drinkin'/ It's The Best Stuff Yet/ Leg Iron Blues/ My Baby's Gone/ No No Blues/ No No Blues (Take 1)/ No No Blues (Take 2)/ No No Blues (W. Eddie Mapp)/ Oh Lawdy Mama/ She Don't Treat Me Good No More/ Some Cold Rainy Day/ Some Rainy Day/ Sometime Mama/ Sweet Petunia/ Ta Ta Blues/ Ticket Agent/ Tippin' Tom/ Trixie/ Two Faced Woman/ Wild Cat Kitten/ You Was Born To Die/ HENRY WILLIAMS & EDDIE ANTHONY: Georgia Crawl/ Lonesome Blues

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Old Hat 1005 Good For What Ails You ● CD $26.98
Two CDs, 48 tracks, essential
Another wonderful collection from Marshall Wyatt's exceptional Old Hat label - this time featuring the sounds you might have heard on medicine shows. From the late 1890 through the early 1950s medicine shows were part of the American rural landscape. Run by hucksters selling all kinds of dubious remedies for whatever ails you, these shows traveled from town to town and before launching the big sell the audience were entertained by magicians, jugglers and, of course, musicians. Many great blues and old timey musicians got their start in these shows. Although no recordings of medicine shows exist this two CD set with 48 tracks features performers who appeared on these shows along with some who didn't performing tunes and songs used to loosen up the crowd. Among the blues and old time country performers performers included are Daddy Stovepipe & Mississippi Sarah, The Dallas String Band with Coley Jones, Pink Anderson & Simmie Dooley, Walter Smith, Stovepipe #1 & David Crockett, Walter Cole, Henry Thomas, The Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers, Sam McGee, Blind Willie McTell, Frank Stokes, Alec Johnson & His Band, Papa Charlie Jackson, Hezekiah jenkins, Charlie Parker & Mack Woolbright, J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers and many more. Sound quality is stunning and set comes with a 76 page booklet illustrated in color and black & white with a history of the medicine shows, rare photographs and other illustrations, never before published first hand accounts, discussions of each song and full discographical information. An indispensible collection. (FS)
THE ALLEN BROTHERS: Bow Wow Blues/ PINK ANDERSON & SIMMIE DOOLEY: Gonna Tip Out Tonight/ Papa's 'Bout To Get Mad/ BANJO JOE: My Money Never Runs Out/ THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAIN ENTERTAINERS: Baby All Night Long/ CHRIS BOUCHILLON: Born In Hard Luck/ Hannah/ TOMMIE BRADLEY: Nobody's Business If I Do/ CANNON'S JUG STOMPERS: Bring It With You When You Come/ THE CAROLINA TAR HEELS: Ain't No Use Working So Hard/ Her Name Was Hula Lou/ FIDDLIN' JOHN CARSON & HIS VIRGINIA REELERS: Gonna Swing On the Golden Gate/ WALTER COLE: Mama Keep Your Yes Ma'am Clean/ BOGUS BEN COVINGTON: Adam & Eve In The Garden/ THE DALLAS STRING BAND WITH COLEY JONES: Hokum Blues/ THE DALLAS STRING BAND: Shine/ SHORTY GODWIN: Jimbo Jambo Land/ THE GRANT BROTHERS & THEIR MUSIC: Tell It To Me/ BEANS HAMBONE & EL MORROW: Beans/ PRINCE ALBERT HUNT'S TEXAS RAMBLERS: Traveling Man/ FRANK HUTCHISON: Stackalee/ JIM JACKSON: Bye, Bye, Policeman/ I Heard the Voice of a Porkchop/ PAPA CHARLIE JACKSON: Scoodle Um Skoo/ HEZEKIAH JENKINS: Shout You Cats/ ALEC JOHNSON & HIS BAND: Mysterious Coon/ JOHNSON-NELSON-PORKCHOP: G. Burns Is Gonna Rise Again/ UNCLE DAVE MACON & HIS FRUIT JAR DRINKERS: Go Along Mule/ J. E. MAINER'S MOUNTAINEERS: Kiss Me Cindy/ LIL MCCLINTOCK: Don't Think I'm Santa Claus/ EARL MCDONALD'S ORIGINAL LOUISVILLE JUG BAND: Casey Bill/ SAM MCGEE: Chevrolet Car/ KIRK MCGEE & BLYTHE POTEET: C-H-I-C-K-E-N Spells Chicken/ BLIND WILLIE MCTELL: Atlanta Strut/ THE MEMPHIS SHEIKS: He's In the Jailhouse Now/ EMMETT MILLER & HIS GEORGIA CRACKERS: The Gypsy/ CHARLIE PARKER & MACK WOOLBRIGHT: The Man Who Wrote Home Sweet Home Never Was a Married Man/ Ticklish Reuben/ CHARLIE POOLE & THE NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS: Sweet Sixteen/ WALTER SMITH: The Bald-Headed End of a Broom/ The Cat's Got the Measles, The Dog's Got the Whooping Cough/ FRANK STOKES: I Got Mine/ STOVEPIPE #1 AND DAVID CROCKETT: A Chicken Can Waltz the Gravy Around/ DADDY STOVEPIPE & MISSISSIPPI SARAH: The Spasm/ GID TANNER & HIS SKILLET-LICKERS: It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'/ GID TANNER & RILEY PUCKETT: Tanner's Boarding House/ HENRY THOMAS: Railroadin' Some/ THE THREE TOBACCO TAGS: Reno Blues

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Shanachie 6064 When Gospel Was Gospel ● CD $15.98
28 tracks, 74 min., essential
What we have here is the best of all possible gospel worlds. The producer and booklet noter is Anthony Heilbut, author of "The Gospel Sound: Good News And Bad Times", the single finest book on the subject, period. Heilbut has also selected some of the most important recordings from the finest performers on record, including Mahalia Jackson, The Spirit Of Memphis, The Davis Sisters, The Sensational Nightengales, The Soul Stirrers, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, to name a few. But instead of merely compiling hits, Heilbut choses powerful and significant works (from 1946-63) and explains their relevance to gospel music and music in general. Eight tracks are previously unreleased, including Brother Joe May's Mercy Lord and The Swan Silvertones' Thank You Jesus and I Have A Friend, all three from 1954. A superb offering. (JC)
QUEEN C. ANDERSON: I Never Heard Of A City-these Are They/ ROBERT ANDERSON: Jesus/ THE ANGELIC GOSPEL SINGERS & DIXIE HUMMINGBI: Standing On The Highway/ PROFESSOR ALEX BRADFORD: Leak In The Building/ J. ROBERT BRADLEY: Amazing Grace/ DOROTHY LOVE COATES & THE ORIGINAL GOSPEL HARMONETTES: Dot's Testimony/ You Better Run/ MADAME EDNA GALLMON COOKE & THE RADIO FOUR: Walk Through The Valley/ THE DAVIS SISTERS: Jesus Steps Right In/ Too Close To Heaven/ PROFESSOR J. EARLE HINES: Look For Me In Heaven/ MAHALIA JACKSON: Mahalia Moans/ Power Of The Holy Ghost/ THE ROBERTA MARTIN SINGERS: The Old Ship Of Zion/ Yield Not To Temptation/ BROTHER JOE MAY: Mercy Lord/ You're Gonna Need Him/ THE SENSATIONAL NIGHTINGALES: How About You/ Sinner Man/ THE SOUL STIRRERS: His Eye Is On The Sparrow/ The Lord Will Make A Way/ SPIRIT OF MEMPHIS QUARTET: Here Am I Send Me/ THE SWAN SILVERTONES: Thank You Jesus-i Have A Friend/ SISTER ROSETTA THARPE & MARIE KNIGHT: Beams Of Heaven/ SISTER ROSETTA THARPE & THE DEPENDABLE BOYS: Little Boy, How Old Are You/ CLARA WARD & THE WARD SINGERS: Leave It There/ Time Is Winding Up/ MARION WILLIAMS: Traveling Shoes

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Total Energy 3019 Motor City Blues At Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Fest, 1973 ● CD $14.98
22 tracks, 72 minutes, recommended
Originally on the Schoolkids label with slightly different track lineup. During the '73 festival, organizer John Sinclair came up with the idea of finding all the old Detroit Bluesmen he could for a "Detroit Blues Review", with each of the stars playing 2 or 3 tunes in front of a single backing band (Little Mack Collin's Partymakers, Inc.) What we have here is an hour of the best of the afternoon, an often wonderful introduction to Motor City Blues. Johnny Mae Matthews sings her own Send You Back To Georgia, which 9 years earlier was the 1st single by The Animals. Dr. Ross does a great Boogie Disease. There's cuts by 2 of John Lee Hooker's old bandmates, Boogie Woogie Red (The Viper Song) & Eddie "Guitar" Burns. Also some great stuff by some more well known names including Baby Boy Warren, Bobo Jenkins, & Eddie Kirkland, & the more obscure Washboard Willie & His Super Suds Of Rhythm, Mr. Bo,& the amazing One String Sam singing and playing one-string guitar on his classic I Need $100. The interview with Sinclair that was on the Schoolkids release is not here. (GM/ FS)

 
MUDDY WATERS Varese 66662 All Night Long - Muddy Waters Live! ● CD $13.98
16 tracks, 73 min., highly recommended
This disc collects tracks from three live European shows with Muddy's regular touring band. The first five cuts from May 1964 feature Waters showing off on slide guitar and working through such Chess-nuts as Willie Dixon's Hoochie Coochie Man and his own She's Nineteen Years Old with Otis Spann on piano, Ransom Knowling on bass, and Walter "Big Eyes" Smith on drums. The next seven tracks were recorded in 1966-67 and feature Spann along side Luther Johnson (b), Pee Wee Madison (g), and George Smith (hp). The remaining tracks come from the late 1970s but still boast a rock solid band (even without Spann) and more classic tunes, including Can't Get No Grinding and the crowd-pleasing, voodoo-referencing Got My Mojo Workin'. (JC)

 
BEVERLY "GUITAR" WATKINS Music Maker 46 The Feelings Of Beverly "Guitar" Watkins ● CD $15.98
10 tracks, 34 min., recommended
Watkins is a God-fearing Christian woman who just happens to play the blues guitar like a man possessed. She recorded with Piano Red and The Interns (1959-69) on Dr. Feelgood, among other songs. Here she moves through a set of originals for the non-profit Music Maker Relief Foundation to support "forgotten heroes of Southern musical traditions." But her singing falls a bit short of her guitar work, and there's the rub. Still, Just Make Believe hits the blues spot dead on. But too often the spot is only grazed, sometimes missed all together. (JC)

 

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