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NEWSLETTER #144
Blues & Gospel
Vivian Vance Kelly - > Marva Wright

 

 

 
VIVIAN VANCE KELLY Wolf 120.812 Hit Me Up ● CD $16.98
Debut album from the daughter of fine Chicago bluesman Vance Kelly. Vivian is an excellent singer though her material is overly familiar (Got My Mojo Working/ Down Home Blues/ Stand By me/ Proud Mary/ Proud Mary, etc.). Some titles are performed acoustic and some electric and several songs are presented twice in acoustic and electric versions.

 
BEN BOWEN KING Talking Taco 153 Sidewalk Saints ● CD $15.98
14 tracks, 46 minutes, recommended
Ben Bowen King isn't apt to have an army of fans looking for his CD but that won't lessen the impact the guitarist will have on listeners as soon as they hear his playing on Sidewalk Saints, a disc laced from beginning to end with brilliant instrumental readings of Gospel music. King's wizard-like approach on his resonator guitar is spellbinding on Preacher's Hell Bound Train/ Satan - Surely Your Evil Empire Will Fall Someday/ Will The Circle Be Unbroken[], and Shall We Gather At The River and the assistance King gets from Covita Moroney's tambourine, spoons, Coke bottles, suitcases, and bass drum only makes this all the more satisfying. A dying tradition this music might be but Ben Bowen King isn't going down without swinging. Riveting! (CR)

 
JULIUS LESTER BGP CDBGPD 175 Dressed Like Freedom ● CD $22.98
14 tracks, 71 min., highly recommended
Folk protest singer from the 1960s, grounded in the blues, Lester confronted important African-American issues (e.g., reparations for slavery, inner city poverty) in and out of his songs. His direct approach benefitted from a well-developed sense of humor about himself and everything else that nonetheless rarely failed to leave marks. Politically, Lester worked for SNCC and favored Malcolm to Martin; an idealist at heart, he grew disillusioned with "the revolution" as it became progressively more violent. Sometimes, listening to "protest" music can be a bit like doing homework--you do it because it's apparently good for you. But Lester's music, while perhaps medicinal, is no medicine, requires no spoonful of sugar. Drawn from a pair of Vanguard LPs (Julius Lester from 1965 and Departures from 1967), this CD is all the more welcome when one considers Vanguard's seeming lack of a coherent reissue policy. Booklet notes include a recent interview with Lester that makes for fascinating reading. (JC)

 
LOUISIANA RED Tomato (Germany) 2696072 Midnight Rambler ● CD $8.98
18 tracks, 68 mins, highly recommended
Now out of print. Louisiana Red is a talented singer, guitarist and songwriter who had recorded so prolifically in the 70s and 80s that it was easy to overlook some of his better recordings like this one. This set features 18 songs recorded in 1975 for Kent Cooper's Blue Labor label. Red was in good form on these songs, mostly self written or written by producer Kent Cooper. He plays acoustic guitar with some fine slide playing from time to time. Though Red's tunes are often built around traditional blues tunes and his style is influenced by Lightnin' Hopkins and Muddy Waters his lyrics have a distinct and interesting personal quality to them. It includes a remake of his 1964 Glover single Too Poor To Die about being too poor to pay the undertaker so he can't afford to die and the grim Sweet Blood Call opens with the line "I'll Have A Hard Time Missing You, Baby/ With My Pistol In Your Mouth"! A previous issue of this album had one more track but if you don't already have this it's definitely worth your time. (FS)

 
LYNWOOD SLIM Delta Groove 108 Last Call - The Mellow Sounds Of Lynwood Slim ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 45 mins, recommended
While this disc of Richard Duran's (otherwise known as Lynwood Slim) might be a little more on the mellow side of things, delving into the swinging, jazz-infused side of blues has never been anything Slim avoided - he's got a voice as smooth as silk and its use as an instrument has been clearly evident to those aware of his earlier work. While Pete Johnson's Wee Baby Blues, Duke Ellington's Nothin' But The Blues, and Irving Berlin's Me, Myself & I might indeed be more restrained than Duran's Say It (with the Chicago Blues Angels featuring Nick Moss and his slashing guitar) or Clifton Chenier's All Night Long, Lynwood Slim continues to wander the many sides of the blues and its rich past with ease, success, and respect. Support comes from a cast including Kid Ramos, Kirk Fletcher, Richard Innes and other veterans just as talented. (CR)

 
BARRELHOUSE BUCK MCFARLAND Delmark 788 Alton Blues ● CD $14.98
17 track, 48 mins, very highly recommended
What an absolute delight! Barrelhouse Buck McFarland recorded a handful of superb sides in the 20s and 30s with great piano work and distinctive raspy vocals and phrasing. When he was rediscovered in 1961 by Bob Koester and St. Louis copy Charlie O'Brien he was still a potent performer as this superb, previously unissued session, shows. McFarland was from Alton, Illinois (also the birthplace of Miles Davis), around 20 miles from St. Louis, Mo. where there was an active group of pianists like Speckled Red, Roosevelt Sykes, Walter Davis and others and McFarland's style, like that of Wesley Wallace and Jabo Williams is considered an offshoot of the St. Louis style with distinctive bass work with the left hand and a flowing right hand style. On this August, 1961 session Buck is in fine form playing versions of songs he had recorded prewar as well a variety of other compositions with his distinctive vocals and lovely piano work. This outstanding set also includes a five minute chat with McFarland where he reminisces about people like Henry Brown, Peetie Wheatstraw, Charlie Jordan and other denizens of the St. Louis blues scene. He was only 58 at the time of these recordings and obviously had the ability to rekindle his musical career but, sadly, he passed away eight months after these recordings. If you like piano blues then this release is a must. (FS)

 
THE MEMPHIS JUG BAND Frog 62 Vol. 4 ● CD $18.98
25 tracks, essential
the fourth and final volume in Frog's reissue of the complete recordings of one of the greatest of all jug bands - The Memphis Jug Band led by singer, guitarist, harmonica & jug player Will Shade. The first nine tracks are a real treat - nine never before issued alternate takes from 1927 and 1928 from recently discovered test pressings. Differences from the issued takes is frequently minor, though in some cases, like their magnificent Beale Street Mess Around there are substantial lyric changes and another classic Stealin' Stealin' has an extra verse in this alternate. The remaining 16 tracks are from 3 sessions in November, 1934 and find the group somewhat more urbane than on their earlier sides with a stronger infusion of jazz and some influences of white country music in Charlie Pierce's fiddle playing. In spite of the changes the music made by the group was irrepressibly infectious particularly on mostly instrumental tracks like Jazzbo Stomp/ Gator Wobble/ Take Your Fingers Off It and their wonderful Rukus Juice & Chittlin'. The first three volumes (Frog 15, 16 & 18) are still available and equally essential. (FS)

 
JOHNNY OTIS Rev-Ola CRBAND 9 Rock Me Baby - The Mercury & Peacock Sides ● CD $15.98
29 tracks, 79 mins, highly recommended
What a fine collection of tracks from Johnny Otis' early 1950's, a period that brought on a whole lot of hot R&B. Some of my favorite Johnny Otis recordings come from this era. Recordings represent output for the Mercury and Peacock record labels. Considered a bit of a down time before his big resurgence with Capitol records and the "Johnny Otis Show" that was a hit on TV and radio starting around 1957, there was still a lot of great stuff coming out from him at this time, it's just that the charts and sales didn't reflect it. Most of the vocals on this are by Johnny Otis, Mel Walker, or Junior Ryder with the great exception of Yes Baby, a Lieber & Stoller number, which features vocals from Johnny Ace and Big Mama Thorton, both of whom Otis was very busy with promoting and producing as part of his tenure as an A&R man and leader of the house band for Duke/ Peacock records. Great throughout. (JM)

 
BROTHER JOHN SELLERS Vanguard (UK) VMD 8005 Sings Blues And Folk Songs ● CD $16.98
16 tracks, 48 min., very highly recommended
Reissues Sellers' two 10" Vanguard LPs from 1954 ("Sings Blues And Folk Songs", LP VRS 8005 & "Jack Of Diamonds", LP VRS 7022). "Sings" features Sellers with a small sympathetic jazz combo. "Jack" finds sellers accompanied only by Sonny Terry (harmonica) and Johnny Jones (guitar). (Both albums were "supervised" by John Hammond.) Although he toured with Mahalia Jackson and Big Bill Broonzy, and worked for years with Alvin Ailey, Sellers star never shone as brightly as it deserved. His style, less gritty sounding than many of his blues contemporaries, was thought by some to be less authentic that it needed to be--although Sellers was born in Clarksdake, MS., and raised in Chicago, both blues meccas. One listen to this excellent and long overdue release puts that notion to rest. An underrated performer worth (re)discovering. Informative booklet notes with label photos and reproductions of the original album covers (front and back). (JC)

 
SUNNYLAND SLIM & HIS PALS JSP JSPCD 7783 The Classic Sides, 1947-1953 ● CD $28.98
Four CD set with 104 tracks featuring classic Chicago blues by the great singer & piano player Sunnyland Slim and some of the many people he worked with. There are 54 tracks under Slim's own name which is most, but not all, of his recordings made between 1947 and 1955 and range from his first sides as a Doctor Clayton imitator to urban blues with small combos with horns to down home sides with just harmonica and guitar. He is accompanied by musicians like Blind John Davis, Lonnie Johnson, Leroy Foster, Alex Atkins, Robert Lockwood (who provides some truly dazzling guitar accompaniments), Snooky Pryor, Big Crawford, J.T. Brown, Eddie Taylor, Louis Myers and others. The rest of the set features Slim in an accompanying role in sessions by Floyd Jones, Little Walter, The Fat man, Johnny Shines, Robert Lockwood, Leroy Foster, J.B. lenoir, Jimmy Rogers and St. Louis Jimmy. The cuts by Slim are on the three Classics CDs of him (5013, 5035, 5171) which includes his Aristocrat sides (not included here) and most of the other tracks have been reissued elsewhere though I believe the 10 St. Louis Jimmy tracks are new to CD.
THE FAT MAN: Glad I Don't Worry No More/ You've Got To Stop This Mess/ LEROY FOSTER: Blues Is Killin' Me/ Late Hours At Midnight/ Louella/ Pet Rabbit/ FLOYD JONES: Ain't Times Hard/ Any Old Lonesome Day/ Big World/ Dark Road/ Floyd's Blues/ Schooldays On My Mind/ J.B. LENORE: How Can I Leave/ How Much More/ I Have Married/ I Want My Baby/ I'll Die Tryin'/ Let's Roll/ Louise/ People Are Meddlin' In Our Affairs/ Slow Down Woman/ The Mojo/ The Mountain/ Wanna Play A Little While/ ROBERT LOCKWOOD: Dust My Broom/ Dust My Broom/ Glory For Man/ I'm Gonna Dig Myself A Hole/ My Daily Wish/ Pearly B/ JIMMY ROGERS: I'm In Love/ Ludella/ That's All Right/ JOHNNY SHINES: Living In The White House/ Please Don't/ ST. LOUIS JIMMY: Chicago Woman Blues/ Hard Work Boogie/ I Sit Up All Night/ I'm Not Satisfied/ Mother's Day/ Nervous Breakdown/ Old Age Has Got Me/ Shame On You Baby/ State Street Blues/ Trying To Change My Ways/ Your Evil Ways/ SUNNYLAND SLIM: (Low Down) Sunnyland Train/ 5 Foot 4 Gal/ Across The Hall Blues/ Ain't Nothing But A Child/ Back To Korea Blues/ Bad Times (Cost Of Living)/ Bassology/ Bassology/ Be Mine Alone/ Be My Baby/ Blue Baby/ Broke And Hungry/ Brown Skin Woman/ Brown Skin Woman/ Brown Skinned Woman/ City Of New Orleans/ Devil Is A Busy Man/ Down Home Child/ Every Time I Get To Drinking/ Farewell Little Girl/ Four Day Bounce/ Gin Drinkin' Baby/ Hard Time (When Mother's Gone)/ Hard Times/ Hit The Road Again/ I Done You Wrong/ I Done You Wrong/ I Want My Baby/ Illinois Central/ It's All Over Now/ I'm Just A Lonesome Man/ I've Done You Wrong/ Jivin' Boogie/ Keep Your Hands Out Of My Money/ Leaving Your Town (No Name Blues)/ Mary Lee/ Mud Kicking Woman/ My Heavy Load/ Nappy Head Woman/ No Whiskey Blues/ Orphan Boy Blues/ Roll, Tumble And Slip (I Cried)/ Sad And Lonesome/ School Days/ Shake It Baby/ Shake It Baby/ Sunnyland Special/ Sweet Lucy Blues/ That Woman/ Train Time (4 O'Clock Blues)/ Troubles Of My Own/ Walking With The Blues/ When I Was Young/ When I Was Young (Shake It Baby)/ Woman Trouble (Overnite)/ Worried About My Baby/ Worried About My Baby

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Bear Family BCD 16804 Mercury Records - The New Orleans Sessions, 1950 & 1953 ● CD $41.98
47 tracks, 127 mins, highly recommended
Crack open a fresh bottle of Hadacol (it's good for what ails ya) and wash it down with an ice-cold Jax beer, you are about to partake in an amazing journey right into the heart of the crescent city. Around 1950 the folks at Mercury records made the decision to head down to New Orleans and record up some talent. Of course when they got down there, they realized that there was plenty of talent to go round and ended up doing 3 sessions over as many years. The first session is from 2 nights in February, 1950; the artists recorded those nights were: Alma Mondy, Roy (Professor Longhair) Byrd & His Blues Jumpers, Theard Johnson, Georgie Miller & His Mid Driffs, Little Joe Gaines, Dwine Craven, and Silvertone Singers. The second go round happened June / July of 1950, with cuts recorded by Roy (Professor Longhair) Byrd & His Blues Jumpers and Alma Mondy. By the last session in July of 1953, The Professor wouldn't be there, but you get Alma Mondy, Pat Valdelar, Ray Johnson and Herbert "Woo Woo" Moore. Easily, the material that really shoots this compilation out of the atmosphere is the Roy (Professor Longhair) Byrd tracks. I am a big fan of Fess's and have heard recordings of him from many sessions over the years, but I have never heard him play as well as he does on the tracks from the 1950 sessions. Several times, I played the same track 2 or 3 times in a row, just to re-listen to the amazing playing. Wow! Professor Longhair was certainly in his prime, surrounded by amazing musicians; there was simply magic in the air. Some of these tracks were originally released on 78s under the name Roy Byrd & His Blues Jumpers. While Professor Longhair's performances are the top, plenty of other great stuff abounds. Alma Mondy, an outstanding R&B singer, was once proclaimed the next big thing in New Orleans by big deal D.J. Doctor Daddy-O and was a regular feature on the "Doctor's Jax Beer Parties;" the Silvertone Singers play some incredibly smooth Gospel, sure to lift the spirit; and Little Joe Gains is an outstanding Blues shouter, whose Snuff Dipper is a real gross out that certainly should be heard to be totally appreciated. The closest thing to a clunker on this set would be Theard Johnson, who had a fine, strong voice, but is much more of a crooner than a shouter. His biggest claim to fame was being an early singer for Dave Bartholomew's group who was replaced by Tommy Ridgley. All in all a fine set, one of the best releases of the year so far. This is an expanded ersion of the two LP set Bear Family 15308. (JM)
ROY BYRD & HIS BLUES JUMPERS (Professor Longhair) : Bald Head/ Been Foolin' Around/ Between The Night And Day/ Between The Night And Day (alt)/ Byrd's Blues/ Hadacol Bounce/ Hadacol Bounce (alt)/ Her Mind Is Gone/ Her Mind Is Gone (alt)/ Hey Now Baby/ Longhair Stomp/ Longhair Stomp (alt)/ Oh Well/ DWINE CRAVEN: Mercury Boogie/ New Way Of Loving/ LITTLE JOE GAINES: She Won't Leave No More/ Snuff Dipper/ RAY JOHNSON: Boogie The Blues/ House Of Blues/ I'll Never Let You Go/ Smilin' Blues/ THEARD JOHNSON: I Walk In My Sleep/ Lost Love/ GEORGE MILLER & HIS MID DRIFFS: Bat-Lee Swing/ Bat-Lee Swing (alt)/ Boogie's The Thing/ ALMA MONDY (Miss Lollypop): A Job For A Jockey/ Baby Get Wise/ I Need You Baby/ Just As Soon As I Go Home/ Just As Soon As I Go Home (alt)/ Love Troubles/ Love Troubles (alt)/ Miss Lollypop's Confession/ Miss Lollypop's Confession (alt)/ No Stuff For Me/ Still My Angel Child/ Street Walkin' Daddy/ You Done Me Wrong/ HERBERT 'WOO WOO' MOORE: Five Long Letters/ Something's Wrong/ THE SILVERTONE SINGERS: Bye And Bye/ Call On Jesus In Scret Prayer/ Rest From Labor/ What Are They Doing In Heaven Today/ PAT VALDEVEAR: Baby, Rock Me/ Keep Your Hands On Your Heart

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Blue Label 95832 The Champion Records Story ● CD $16.98
20 mid 50s tracks recorded for Ted Jarrett's Champion and affiliated Calvert and Kit labels. Includes sides by Gene Allison, Larry Birdsong, Earl Gaines, Christine Kittrell, Little Ike, Al "Murfreesboro" Garner, Clenest Gant & Don q, Herbert Hunter and others. Quite a few of these tracks were reissued some years ago by Ace.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Dust-To-Digital 04 How Low Can You Go? Anthology Of The String Bass ● CD $55.98
Three CD set, 79 tracks, highly recommended
Another delightful and imaginative package from those creative folks at Dust-To-Digital. This is a look at the place of the string bass in American vernacular music. Most of the music is jazz but there's also some blues, gospel, country and one group from Martinique recorded in France. The string bass started life as the bowed contrabass in classical groups and didn't make it's first appearance as plucked instrument in none classical groups until around the end of the 19th century. For the next 20 years it played only a small role with most dance and jazz bands using brass instruments to perform the rhythm function. The first string bassist to appear on record was Harry Barth who performed with Ted Lewis & His Band and is featured prominently on their 1925 recording of Milneberg Joys (included here). The first two discs presents a historical survey of recordings featuring the use of the bass recorded between 1925 and 1941 with sides by Jelly-Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers (with bassist John Lindsay), Sam Morgan's Jazz Band (with Sidney Brown), The Halfway House Dance Orchestra (with Chink Martin), Jimmie Rodgers (his classic Waiting For A Train with George MacMillan on bass), Taylor-Griggs Louisiana melody Makers (with Aussie B. Grigg), Jack Teagarden & His Orch. (with Artie Bernstein), Eddie South & His Orch. (with Milt Hinton), The Spirits Of Rhythm (with Wilson meyers), Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (with Joe Ferguson) and many more. The final disc is devoted exclusively to bassist William "Bill" Johnson who is considered one of the most important and influential bassists of the 20s. He is featured on 26 blues, jazz & gospel tracks from 1928 and '29 by The Dixie Four, Midnight Rounders, Rev. D.C. Rice & His Sanctified Congregation, Tampa Red's Hokum Jug Band and others. Sound quality throughout is superb and set is housed in a 7 1/2"x5 1/2" box and comes with copiously illustrated 96 page booklet with extensive notes by Dick Spottswood. (FS)
ROY ACUFF AND HIS CRAZY TENNESSEEANS: Yes Sir, That's My Baby/ DON ALBERT AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Deep Blue Melody/ HENRY ALLEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Rug Cutter Swing/ LIONEL BELASCO AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Depression-Paseo/ MART BRITT AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Goose Creek-Stomp/ MILTON BROWN AND HIS MUSICAL BROWNIES: Brownie's Stomp/ CAB CALLOWAY AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Pluckin' the Bass/ CANDY AND COCO: Bugle Call Rag/ JUNIE C. COBB AND HIS GRAINS OF CORN: Don't Cry, Honey/ Endurance Stomp (take A)/ Shake That Jelly Roll/ COTTON TOP MOUNTAIN SANCTIFIED SINGERS: She's Coming ‘Round the Mountain/ THE CRYSTAL SPRINGS RAMBLERS: Tired Of Me/ THE DALLAS STRING BAND WITH COLEY JONES: So Tired/ THE DIXIE FOUR: Kentucky Stomp/ Saint Louis Man/ DUKE ELLINGTON AND HIS FAMOUS ORCHESTRA: Sepia Panorama/ FRENCHY'S STRING BAND: Texas and Pacific Blues/ JEAN GOLDKETTE AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Dinah/ My Pretty Girl/ SONNY GREER AND HIS MEMPHIS MEN: Beggar's Blues/ THE HALFWAY HOUSE DANCE ORCHESTRA: I'd Like to Go Back to That Old Pal of Mine/ THE HARLEM HOT SHOTS: Who's Sorry Now?/ FLETCHER HENDERSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Chinatown, My Chinatown/ CHIPPIE HILL: I Ain't Gonna Do It No More/ Pratt City Blues/ WILMOTH HOUDINI: Tiger Tom Kill Tiger Cat, Damblay, Santapie and Rat/ ANDY IONA AND HIS ISLANDERS: Ta-hu-wa-hu-wa-i (A Hawaiian War Song)/ LIL JOHNSON: Rug Cutter's Function/ BILL JOHNSON'S LOUISIANA JUG BAND: Don't Drink It In Here/ Get the "L" On Down the Road/ JONES AND COLLINS ASTORIA HOT EIGHT: Duet Stomp/ THE KANSAS CITY SIX: Pagin' the Devil/ L'ORCHESTRE ANTILLAIS: En Sens Unique S.V.P./ ED LANG AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Hot Heels/ BOBBIE LEECAN'S NEED-MORE BAND: Wash-Board Cut Out/ TED LEWIS AND HIS BAND: Milenberg Joys/ CARL MARTIN: Good Morning, Judge/ THE MIDNIGHT ROUNDERS: Bull Fiddle Rag (take A)/ Bull Fiddle Rag (take B)/ Shake Your Shimmy/ SAM MORGAN'S JAZZ BAND: Bogalusa Strut/ Down by the Riverside/ JELLY-ROLL MORTON AND HIS RED HOT PEPPERS: Black Bottom Stomp/ JELLY-ROLL MORTONíS NEW ORLEANS JAZZMEN: Climax Rag (take 1)/ THE NEW ORLEANS FEETWARMERS: Shag/ WALTER PAGE AND HIS ORIGINAL BLUE DEVILS: Squabblin'/ CHARLES PIERCE AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Bull Frog Blues/ China Boy/ THE PRAIRIE RAMBLERS: Tex's Dance/ REV. D.C. RICE AND HIS SANCTIFIED CONGREGATION: He's Got His Eyes on You/ I'm In the Battlefield for My Lord/ I'm Pressing On/ No Night There/ "BANJO" IKEY ROBINSON AND HIS BULL FIDDLE BAND: My Four Reasons/ JIMMIE RODGERS: Waiting For a Train/ LUIS RUSSELL AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Panama/ Poor Li'l Me/ EDDIE SOUTH AND HIS ORCHESTRA: My! Oh, My!/ THE SPIRITS OF RHYTHM: Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes/ THE STATE STREET RAMBLERS: Brown Skin Mama/ Endurance Stomp/ Some Day You'll Know/ St. Louis Nightmare/ Tell Me Cutie/ THE STATE STREET BOYS: The Dozen/ THE STATE STREET RAMBLERS: Tuxedo Stomp/ TAMPA RED'S HOKUM JUG BAND: Come On Mama Do That Dance/ I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone/ EVA TAYLOR AND HER BOY FRIENDS: The Stuff Is Here and It's Mellow/ TAYLOR-GRIGGS LOUISIANA MELODY MAKERS: Where the Sweet Magnolias Bloom/ JACK TEAGARDEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Chances Are/ THELMA TERRY AND HER PLAYBOYS: Mama's Gone, Goodbye/ Voice of the Southland/ JOE TURNER AND HIS MEMPHIS MEN: Freeze and Melt/ WASHBOARD SAM: Don't ‘low/ DICKY WELLS' SHIM SHAMMERS: Baby Are You Satisfied/ BOB WILLS AND HIS TEXAS PLAYBOYS: Liza, Pull Down the Shades/ White Heat

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Dust-To-Digital 05 Desperate Man Blues Soundtrack ● CD $15.98
19 tracks, recommended
If you don't have a DVD player or only want the music from the Joe Bussard documentary then this CD should fit the bill nicely with 18 tracks of vintage blues, country and jazz plus a the soundtrack of the Son House film clip of Death Letter Blues. Most of these tracks are available elsewhere but the music is consistently superb and sound is superb. Includes Jimmy Murphy, Joe Hill Louis, Uncle dave Macon, Charley Patton, Lan hardin, Gitfiddle Jim, Clarence Ashley, The Stripling Brothers, Billy Banks & His Orchestra, Long Cleve Reed & Papa Harvey Hull and more. Includes booklet with commentary on the performances by Joe. (FS)
CLARENCE ASHLEY: The Coo-Coo Bird/ BILLY BANKS AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Bugle Call Rag/ THE CARTER FAMILY: John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man/ GITFIDDLE JIM: Paddlin' Madeline Blues/ LANE HARDIN: Hard Times Blues/ SON HOUSE: Death Letter Blues/ BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON: Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground/ LONNIE JOHNSON: Death Valley Is Just Half Way to My Home/ ROBERT JOHNSON: Cross Roads Blues/ JOE HILL LOUIS: When I'm Gone/ UNCLE DAVE MACON: Whoop 'Em Up, Cindy/ BLIND WILLIE MCTELL: Statesboro Blues/ FLOYD MING AND HIS PEP STEPPERS: Indian War Whoop/ JIMMY MURPHY: We Live A Long Time to Get Old/ CHARLEY PATTON: It Won't Be Long/ LONG CLEVE REED AND HARVEY HULL: Original Stack O' Lee Blues/ UNCLE BUNT STEPHENS: Sail Away Lady/ THE STRIPLING BROTHERS: The Lost Child/ THE TENNESSEE MESSAROUNDERS: Mandolin Blues

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Ozit 313 Black Diamond Express To Hell ● CD $25.98
29 tracks, 79 min., highly recommended
Hats off to Orzit Records for issuing a various artists CD with such a diverse group of artists--blues, jazz, comedy, country, rockabilly, gospel, the kitchen sink--from the 1920s to the 1960s. The train theme keeps the eclecticism from spinning out of control and provides a nifty excuse for the CD to exist, but record companies probably care more about such unifying themes than does the public, who'd just like some cool music. Performers include massively talented Norfolk Jubilee Quartet (When The Train Comes Along), Bobby Crown (One Way Ticket, 1956 rockabilly), Washboard Sam (Flying Crow, Duke Ellington (Daybreak Express), Sonny Thompson (Late Freight), among others. Even seemingly odd choices such as Al White's version of the Chuck Berry classic Johnny B. Goode, a song only tangentially about trains, at best, are interesting. Pullman Porter by Cousin Joe Pleasant, and Orange Blossom Special by Drifting Cowboys appear in previously unreleased forms. The booklet notes, though far from user friendly, owing in part to cluttered graphic design, are nonetheless a welcome source of information, even if that information is often a pain to find. Sound quality if surprisingly good. (JC)

 
EDDIE "CLEANHEAD" VINSON Acrobat ACRCD 128 Cleanhead Blues ● CD $9.98
24 tracks, 69 min., highly recommended
Alto sax man and blues shouter, Vinson cut many a side for Mercury between 1945-47, the years represented in this pleasing collection. (Vinson eventually left Mercury for King, and an Ace release of those excellent sides is also available.) Backed by a sharp orchestra, Vinson sings such favorites as Juice Head Baby, Cherry Red Blues, Cleanhead Blues, Kidney Stew Blues, Old Maid Boogie, and many more. Previously available in more expensive import and domestic form, both now deleted, get this while it's around. (JC)

 
SIPPIE WALLACE Collectables 7705 Sippie ● CD $11.98
11 tracks, 33 mins, very good
Reissue of Atlantic 81592 from 1982 featuring recordings by this veteran blues singer accompanied by Jim Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band - a Dixieland oriented group. On a few cuts Sippie is joined by Bonnie Raitt on second vocal or slide guitar. Although Sippie is decidedly well past her prime she and her accompanying musicians are having a good time and this spirit communicates to the listener. Includes Women Be Wise/ Mighty Tight Woman/ You've Been A Good Old Wagon/ You Got To Know How/ Say It Isn't So, etc. (FS)

 
MUDDY WATERS Music Avenue 250154 Hoochie Coochie Mannish Boy ● CD $15.98
16 tracks, 71 min., recommended
Recorded live at the U.s of Washington and Oregon in 1971 & at Newport Jazz Festival in NY in 1973. Yes, Muddy Waters is one of the greatest bluesmen of all time. And as such, everything he recorded is worth hearing, as is this collection of familiar titles (Honey Bee, Hoochie Coochie, Mannish Boy, Crawlin' Kingsnake, and two versions each of Long Distance Call and I Got My Mojo Workin'). But nothing here stands out as indispensably different. The "bonus track" (not on the 8-track tape release, no doubt), which clocks in a 4:32, is an interview with the man himself. All told, necessary for the super fan; the rest of his worshippers can go listen to "At Newport" or the fine "Paris 1972". (JC)

 
SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON Spectrum 544 277-2 The Best Of Sonny Boy Williamson ● CD $9.98
20 tracks, 57 mins, highly recommended
Inexpensive introduction to the music of one of the greatest Chicago bluesmen Aleck "Rice" Miller aka Sonny Boy Williamson. Williamson was truly brilliant harmonica player with a style very different from his contemporaries and a dazzling technique where he would switch between vocals and harmonica riffs without a pause! He was a powerful vocalist and a brilliant songwriter whose themes range somewhat father afield than most blues artists, often drawing on some totally unique and witty imagery. On the majority of his sessions he was accomanied by a quintet of brilliant musicians - Robert Jr Lockwood and Luther Tucker/ guitars, Otis Spann/ piano, Willie Dixon/ bass and Fred Below/ drums - musicians who perfectly complement and follow his vocals and harmonica. This set includes help Me/ Don't Start Me Talking/ Ninety Nine/ Nine Below Zero/ Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide/ Decoration Day/ keep It To Yourself/ Too Young To Die/ The Goat/ fattening Frogs For Snakes and more classics. If you are not familiar with the music of Sonny Boy you should be and this is a good place to start. (FS)

 
MARVA WRIGHT Shout 31 Do Right Woman - The Soul Of New Orleans ● CD $15.98
13 tracks, 59 min., recommended
The record label does all it can to focus attention (why?) on the soul side of this reissue (originally released in 1993 on Sky Ranch), including changing the track order, but still Wright comes off as a blues belter who can squeeze out a more-than-respectable performance on a soul ballad. And that's no slight, just description. So while Born With The Blues and Tommy Ridgley's Three Times seem closer to magnetic north on Wright's stylistic compass than It's Gonna Be All Right, it's all headed in the direction of good. Unsurprisingly, her version of Hound Dog owes more to Big Mama Thornton than it does to the big E. The backing musicians include such top flighters as Sonny Landreth (slide guitar), Walter "Wolfman" Washington (drums), Tracy Griffin (trumpet), Davell Crawford (piano), Marc Adams (piano), and others. (JC)

 

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