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NEWSLETTER #145
Blues & Gospel
Original Blind Boys Of Alabama - > Rusty Zinn

 

 

 

THE ORIGINAL BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA Charly SNAPCD 267 Just A Closer Walk With Thee - The Best Of The Vee-Jay ● CD $13.98
28 tracks, 68 min., highly recommended
The Five Blind Boys Of Alabama experimented a bit during their time at VeeJay, having already done long stints at Specialty and Savoy/Gospel, among other labels. This Charly release cherry picks their sessions (which produced three original LPs) with considerable skill, producing an uplifting album that avoids most of their awkward moments. Yet perhaps it's telling that the best track is one of the two "bonus" cuts, What Manner Of Man Is This, which was recorded for the Coleman label (#5987) in 1948, as by the Happyland Singers. (The other bonus cut, Honey In The Rock, was cut as Gospel 129 in 1961, also before the VeeJay material.) Still, Clarence Fountain's impassioned baritone can drive a song such as If You Miss Me From Singing (an intensified reworking of the Morgan Babb song If You Miss Me From Praying) to near frenzy. His performance on I'm Journeying On (along with tenor Jimmy Evans) pushes relentlessly toward chaos but stops short. And while much of this is more restrained, Fountain seldom disappoints. (JC)

 
THE CALVIN OWENS SHOW Sawdust Alley 52333 I Ain't Gonna Be Yo' Dog No Mo' ● CD $14.98
15 tracks, 60 min., highly recommended
Owens made a name as a trumpet player and band leader for B.B. King before forming his own blues orchestra. So how can an this album with 60 or 70 musicians be a well-kept secret? In a parallel universe Calvin Owens probably gets all the respect and attention he can stand because the inhabitants are wise enough to seek out great music even when it isn't promoted on car commercials or used as audio wallpaper on the latest slasher flick. In this universe, where cynics maintain that life isn't always entirely fair, Owens' relatively modest following just adds grist to their cynical mill. The musicianship here is sharp enough to cut yourself on even before the featured soloists and vocalists step up. Blues man Tommy Castro adds his fiery guitar and vocals, Guitar Shorty does his thing, and Trudy Lynn offers one of the album's highlights when she sings Just Be True To Me. Gloria Edwards sings on an original Edwards-Owens composition Nobody Ever Loved Me, and Jabo, The Texas Prince of Zydeco contributes his voice to his own Hold What You Got and to You Didn't Hurt Me. As a testament to the orchestra's versatility, "guest rapper" Rasheed opens another Edwards-Owens tune (Handcuffed To The Blues), and whatever potential existed for an embarrassing clash of genres is never realized. Endlessly creative, energetic and endearing. This album is a secret worth spilling. (JC)

 
MA RAINEY JSP JSPCD 7793 Mother Of The Blues ● CD $28.98
Five CD set with 111 tracks featuring the complete recordings of one the greatest of the early female singers recorded between 1923 and 1928 including all known alternate takes.
MA RAINEY: Bad Luck Blues/ Barrel House Blues/ Big Feeling Blues/ Black Dust Blues/ Black Eye Blues/ Black Eye Blues/ Blame It On The Blues/ Bo-weavil Blues/ Bo-weavil Blues/ Daddy Goodbye Blues/ Don't Fish In My Sea/ Dream Blues/ Farewell Daddy Blues/ Grievin' Hearted Blues/ Honey Where You Been So Long/ Last Minute Blues/ Leaving This Morning/ Little Low Mama Blues/ Lost Wondering Blues/ Lucky Rock Blues/ Ma And Pa Poorhouse Blues/ Ma Rainey's Mystery Record/ Moonshine Blues/ Morning Hour Blues/ Mountain Jack Blues/ Mountain Jack Blues/ Runaway Blues/ Screech Owl Blues/ Shave 'em Dry Blues/ Sleep Talking Blues/ Sleep Talking Blues/ Southern Blues/ Sweet Rough Man/ Those All Night Long Blues/ Those All Night Long Blues/ Those Dogs Of Mine/ Tough Luck Blues/ Trust No Man/ Walking Blues/ Army Camp Harmony Blues/ Army Camp Harmony Blues/ Bessemer Bound Blues/ Bessemer Bound Blues/ Big Boy Blues/ Black Cat Hoot Owl Blues/ Blues Oh Blues/ Blues The World Forgot/ Blues The World Forgot/ Booze And Blues/ Broken Hearted Blues/ Broken Soul Blues/ Cell Bound Blues/ Chain Gang Blues/ Countin' The Blues/ Countin' The Blues/ Damper Down Blues/ Dead Drunk Blues/ Deep Moaning Blues/ Deep Moaning Blues/ Down In The Basement/ Explaining The Blues/ Explaining The Blues/ Four Day Honorary Scat/ Four Day Honorary Scat/ Georgia Cake Walk/ Gone Daddy Blues/ Goodbye Daddy Blues/ Hear Me Talking To You/ Hustlin' Blues/ Jealous Hearted Blues/ Jealousy Blues/ Jelly Bean Blues/ Lawd Send Me A Man Blues/ Levee Camp Moan/ Log Camp Blues/ Louisiana Hoo-doo Blues/ Ma Rainey's Black Bottom/ Memphis Bound Blues/ Misery Blues/ Moonshine Blues/ New Bo Weavil Blues/ Night Time Blues/ Night Time Blues/ Oh My Babe Blues/ Oh Papa Blues/ Prove It To Me Blues/ Rough And Tumble Blues/ See See Rider Blues/ See See Rider Blues/ Seeking Blues/ Seeking Blues/ Sissy Blues/ Slave To The Blues/ Slow Driving Moan/ Soon This Morning/ South Bound Blues/ Stack O'lee Blues/ Stormy Sea Blues/ Titanic Man Blues/ Titanic Man Blues/ Toad Frog Blues/ Traveling Blues/ Traveling Blues/ Victim Of The Blues/ Weeping Woman Blues/ Wring And Twisting Blues/ Ya Da Do/ Ya Da Do/ Yonder Comes The Blues/ Hellish Rag/ Ice Bag Papa

 
SHERMAN ROBERTSON Movinmusic 001 Guitar Man - Live! ● CD $16.98
Energetic electric blues from Texas singer/ guitarist Robertson recorded live at the Kwadendamme Blues Festival in Holland in 2005. Sherman is accompanied by his European touring band (guitar, keyboards, bass and drums) and performs a mix of original and familiar and unfamiliar covers. Includes Out Of Sight Out Of Mind/ Guitar Man/ Home Of the Blues/ Make It rain, etc. - 8 songs in all.

 
DR. ROSS Fortune 3011 The Harmonica Boss ● CD $17.98
23 tracks, 61 mins, highly recommended
Back in stock in limited quantities. Dr. Ross was certainly a one of kind artist - a terrific singer and a fine harmonica player and guitarist who sometimes added a drum for a full one man band sound. This collection features all the recordings he made for Jack Brown's Fortune label in Detroit in the late 50s and the 60s plus the wonderful single issued on his own DIR label. Many of the tracks are from a mid 60s session with a fairly lame band and are primitively recorded but somehow have a great atmosphere thanks to the good doctor's high quality medicine. The songs are mostly originals, sometimes based on traditional themes but with Ross's own brand of wit along with some traditional blues songs. Among the tunes are such greats as the original version of blues band favorite Cat Squirrel, his reworking of John Lee Hooker's Boogie Chillun as Industrial Boogie, the bizarre I Am Not Dead, a stunning version of the traditional Thirty-Two-Twenty, the witty I'd Rather Be An Old Woman's Baby and more. Sound quality is satisfactory given the quality of the original recordings and the four page booklet has brief notes and some nice photos. Call us for a prescription. (FS)

 
THE SOUL STIRRERS/ FAIRFIELD FOUR Fuel 2000 61576 Gospel Legends, Vol. 1 ● CD $15.98
2 CDs, 28 tracks, 93 min., highly recommended
The Fairfield Four cuts are actually a retitled reissue of their extremely rare Old Town LP (#103) from 1962 with (contrary to the slipcase listing) songs in in the original running order--worth mentioning only because the Ace CD reissue of the same LP from 2000 inexplicably changes the running order. In any case, the album isn't as good as it is rare, but it's close. And the title track is wonderful. The Soul Stirrers CD reissues a fine 10-track 1973 LP on the Shreveport-based Jewel label, and adds half a dozen other Jewel cuts from the same time period, most featuring the brothers Crume. An economical way to get your hands on some classic gospel from the '60s and '70s. (JC)

 
KOKO TAYLOR Alligator 4915 Old School ● CD $16.98
12 tracks, 61 minutes, excellent
Back with her first effort in over a half-dozen years, Koko Taylor's Old School is a solid slice of modern blues with touches of the old school approach. Supported by her band, The Blues Machine, the queen of the blues can still belt it and she gets additional help from Bob Margolin's guitar on a pair, Billy Branch's harp and Mark Kazanoff. Memphis Minnie's Black Rat sounds tight, E.G. Kight's Bad Rooster struts, there are two Willie Dixon gems, Young Fashioned Ways and Don't Go No Further, plus Magic Sam's All Your Love along with a hefty assortment of original rockers and slow blues. While Alligator's production values are too clean to go completely old-school, Koko has shaken off her illness and inactivity proving she still has a lot to offer. Let's hope her return comes much quicker next time out.(CR)

 
BISHOP PERRY TILLIS Birdman 093 Too Close ● CD $13.98
11 tracks highly recommended
Fine field recordings of Alabama gospel singer & guitarist Bishop Perry Tillis made in 1972 and 1973 by Swedish researcher Bengt Olsson and American musicologist Bill Barth. Tillis had been a rambling bluesman in his youth but turned to gospel after he went blind in the late 60s. Half the tracks feature him on acoustic guitar and these rest on electric - the latter featuring him on slide. His singing is powerful and affective and his guitar playing, while fairly basic, is solid and effective. His material is mostly traditional gospel songs but Tillis gives his own stamp to songs like God Don't Like It/ Look Out Liar/ That's All/ Nobody's Fault But Mine. He does a tribute to John F. Kennedy Kennedy Moan which is based around the song Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt/ Rich Girl, Poor Girl. A most worthwhile album and, apparently, the first in a series to be drawn from Olsson's field recordings made in the late 60s and early 70s which is definitely something to look forward to. (FS)

 
OTHA TURNER & THE RISING STAR FIFE Birdman 018 Everybody's Hollerin Goat ● CD $13.98
Back in stock at a lower price. 15 tracks recorded between 1992 and '97 featuring the hypnotic sound of the fife and drum band led by the patriarch of the fife and drum in Mississippi, Othar Turner, who was in his 80s at the time of these recordings. Mostly instrumental with a few very effective vocals.

 
OTHA TURNER & THE AFROSSIPPI ALLSTARS Birdman 025 From Senegal To Senatobia ● CD $13.98
Back in stock at a lower price. An interesting blending of musical cultures featuring Othar Turner and the archaic sound of his Rising Star Fife And Drum Band joined by an electric slide guitarist and a group of African musicians playing on African instruments like the kora and djembe. The fusion is moderately succesful and works best when the guitarist is absent.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Birdman 047 Jim Dickinson Field Recordings ● CD $13.98
12 tracks, good
12 tracks recorded by rural blues artists from Mississippi and Tennessee. No dates are given and the pretentious liner notes don't help but I would imagine most of them are from the 70s. Sleepy John Estes is well past his prime on his three tracks where he is accompanied by groups of mostly white artists including Ry Cooder on a couple of them. Furry Lewis is also not at his best on his two performances though they are quite spirited. Singer/ harmonica player Johnny Woods sounds fine on his solo number but the accompanied track is chaos. Singer/ piano player Mose Vinson sounds fine as does Otha Turner & The Rising Star Fife & Drum band. The Tate County Singers sound pretty good though are overwhelmed by the instrumental accompaniment. The opening track - an acapella performance of Roll Me Over Slow by Alec Teal And Butter Biscuit is one of the most interesting ones here. In keeping with the pretentious nature of this production the disc is subtitled "Delta Experimental Project Vol. 3" - I don't believe vol 1 or 2 exist. There are some enjoyable moments here but the overall feel of this set is dishonest which is not the fault of the main performers. If Hammie Nixon were still alive I doubt that he would appreciate his name being misspelled as Hammy. (FS)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Blue Moon 6055 Kansas City Jumps ● CD $15.98
25 tracks recorded between 1940 and 1949 featuring the complete recordings of vocalist Myra Taylor and Earl Jackson & His Orchestra along with three tracks by Ella Mae Morse.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Blue Label 49292 The Champion Records Story, Volume 2 - Rockin' R&B ● CD $16.98
21 tracks, 50 mins, recommended
Mid/late 50s tracks recorded for Ted Jarrett's Champion and affiliated Calvert, Cherokee and Kit labels. The emphasis here is on up tempo R&B with the occasional doo-wop number to slow things down a bit. Artists include Jimmy beck & His Orchestra (three instrumentals including the label's only hit Pipe Dreams), Little Ike, Larry Birdsong, Earl Gaines, John Bridgeforth, Chuck Harrod & The Anteaters (three sides - two of them with hot rocking guitar), Al "Murfreesboro" Garner, Cliff Butler (an interesting throwback to the Louis Jordan style), Don W's Band with Clenest Gant, Joyce Paul, Sandra Meade (two tracks including a fine cover of Little Willie John's Fever) and Baker Knight. Like the first volume, many of these tracks were issued some years back on Ace but there are a few that are new to CD. 8 page booklet with notes by compiler Fred James. (FS)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Boulevard 1012Z The R&B Years 1955 - Volume 1 ● CD $19.98
First of two double sets featuring some of the popular blues and R&B titles from 1955. Some overlap with other similarly themed collections along with some unique to this set.
BILLY BOY ARNOLD: I Wish You Would/ LAVERN BAKER: Bop Ting-A-Ling/ BOBBY BLAND: It's My Life, Baby/ LOUIS BROOKS/EARL GAINES: It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)/ NAPPY BROWN: Don't Be Angry/ RUTH BROWN: As Long As I'm Moving/ BUDDY & CLAUDIA: Wanna Hug Ya, Kiss Ya, Squeeze Ya/ CHARLES CALHOUN: Smack Dab In The Middle/ RAY CHARLES: I've Got A Woman/ CLIFTON CHENIER: Boppin' The Rock/ THE CLOVERS: All Righty Oh Sweetie/ PEE WEE CRAYTON: Running Wild/ MERCY DEE: Romp And Stomp Blues/ BO DIDDLEY: Bo Diddley/ I'm A Man/ VARETTA DILLARD: Promise Mr Thomas/ FLOYD DIXON: Hey Bartender/ FATS DOMINO: Ain't It A Shame/ THE DRIFTERS: Whatcha Gonna Do/ BILL EMERSON: When It Rains It Really Pours/ JOHNNY FULLER: Fool's Paradise/ LOWELL FULSON: Loving You/ GENE & EUNICE: Ko Ko Mo/ RUFUS GORE: Fire water/ BIG BOY GROVES: I Gotta New Car/ GUITAR SLIM: I Got Sumpin' For You/ WYNONIE HARRIS: Git To Gittin' Baby/ THE HAWKETTES: Mardi Gras Mambo/ SCREAMING JAY HAWKINS: She Put The Whamee On Me/ ELMORE JAMES: Happy Home/ ETTA JAMES: The Wallflower(Roll With Me Henry)/ ELLA & BUDDY JOHNSON ORCH.: (Gotta Go) Upside Your Head/ J.B. LENOIR: Mama Talk To Your Daughter/ SMILEY LEWIS: I Hear You Knocking/ Real Gone Lover/ LITTLE WALTER: My Babe/ THE MARIGOLDS: Rollin' Stone/ CLYDE MCPHATTER & THE DRIFTERS: Gone/ JUNIOR PARKER: I Wanna Ramble/ RED PRYSOCK: Rock 'N Roll/ JIMMY REED: You Don't Have To Go/ PEARL REEVES: Step It Up And Go/ THE SPANIELS: Play It Cool/ ROOSEVELT SYKES: Sweet Old Chicago/ JOE TURNER: Flip Flop and Fly/ JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON: Hot Little Mama/ Too Tired/ WEE WILLIE WAYNE: Travelling Mood/ JOE WILLIAMS WITH COUNT BASIE ORCH.: Every Day I Have The Blues/ CHUCK WILLIS: I Can Tell

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Boulevard 1013Z Down Home Blues Classics - California & West Coast ● CD $19.98
Two CDs, 56 tracks, 157 mins, essential and then some!
This is a fantastic collection of wonderful and incredibly rare music recorded in California between 1948 and 1955. We're familiar with the polished and sophisticated sounds of Charles Brown, Roy Milton, T-Bone Walker and many others who helped form the foundation of modern blues and R&B but there were also a number of performers who performed in an older more rural style. Most of these recordings were made for tiny labels like Jaxyson, Octive, Murray, Elko and others with limited distribution (J.T. Fullbright of Elko distributed his records directly to customers from the trunk of his car!) along with a few more familiar labels like Swingtime, Recorded In Hollywood, etc. Much of the music recorded here harks back to the blues of the 30s and there is just one musical treasure after another. It includes almost the entire output of the wonderful Little Son Willis - a superb singer and piano who was obviously influenced by Doctor Clayton though Willis has a sweeter vocal style - his version of Clayton's Harlem Blues is nothing short of a masterpiece. K.C. Douglas's Mercury Boogie is probably the most well known song here and this set also includes the wonderful flipside - the topical Eclipse Of The Sun featuring a vocal by harmonica player Sidney Maiden. Slim Green does a country blues flavored version of Curtis Jones' Tin Pan Alley as Alla Blues - a song that was to become a West Coast blues standard, Sonny Boy Johnson and his very down home group do a fine version of Baby Please Don't Go and his Desert Blues features some nice slide guitar. Black Diamond is a superb country blues singer and guitarist and does two songs from 1948 that could have easily been recorded 15 years earlier. Female singer Willie B. Huff has one of the most low down voices you've ever heard and is accompanied by equally low down guitar of Johnny Fuller. Other great artists here include Little Willie Cotton, Goldrush, Junior Hampton, Sonny Boy Holmes, Buddy Lewis (aka Ernest Lewis - a wonderful singer/ guitarist from Texas), Ernest McClay, Jerry Perkins, Beverly Scott and his Trio and others. A number of these tracks were issued some years ago on the ABM label but sound quality here is considerably better. 8 page fold out booklet has detailed notes by Mike Rowe and full discographical data. If you have any interest in down home blues then this is an absolute must! (FS)
BLACK DIAMOND: Lonesome Blues/ T.P. Railer/ LITTLE WILLIE COTTON: A Dream/ Gonna Shook It Up And Go/ KING DAVIS: Someday You'll Understand/ Waggin' Your Tail/ K.C. DOUGLAS: K.C. Boogie/ Lonely Blues/ Mercury Blues/ GOLDRUSH: All My Money Is Gone/ SLIM GREEN: Alla Blues/ Baby I Love You/ Central Avenue Blues/ Tricky Woman Blues/ JUNIOR HAMPTON: J.H. Stomp/ SONNY BOY HOLMES: I Got Them Blues/ T-N-T Woman/ WILLIE B. HUFF: Beggar Man Blues/ I Love You Baby/ I've Been Thinkin' And Thinkin'/ Operator 209/ BROTHER JACKSON: L.C. Boogie/ SONNY BOY JOHNSON: Come And Go With Me/ Desert Blues/ I've Been Drinkin' My Last Drink/ I've Got The $64,000 Question/ Swimming Pool Blues/ Walkin' And Cryin' Blues/ BUDDY LEWIS: Lonesome Bedroom Blues/ You've Got Good Business/ SIDNEY MAIDEN: Eclipse Of The Sun/ Everything Is Wrong/ Hurry Hurry Baby/ ERNEST MCCLAY: Big Timing Woman/ Night Working Woman/ JERRY PERKINS: Katherine Blues/ Knockin' The Boogie/ My Baby's Last Goodbye/ P38 Stomp/ AL PRINCE: Don't Love A Married Woman/ Wine Talk/ HASKELL SADLER: Do Right Mind/ Gone For Good/ BEVERLY SCOTT: Brownskin Woman/ Little Girl Blues/ Shakin' The Boogie/ Southern California Blues/ ALVIN SMITH: On My Way/ LITTLE SON WILLIS: Baby Come Back Home/ Bad Luck And Trouble/ Harlem Blues/ I Love You Just The Way You Are/ Nothing But The Blues/ Operator Blues/ Roll Me Over Slow/ Skin And Bone

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Buzzola 013 Kickin' Hitler's Butt - Vintage Anti-Fascist Songs ● CD $16.98
18 tracks, highly recommended
This fine series is back with another thematic anthology with great illustrations, many of them drawn from vintage pulp magazines. A varied collection of different musical styles is featured on this collection of anti-Nazi songs recorded between 1940 and 1944. It starts in great style with Round & Round Hitler's Grave by The Almanac Singers and includes great songs like Stalin Wasn't Stallin' by The Golden Gate Quartet, War Time Blues by Jazz Gillum ("I Hope Hitler Catches Consumption/I Mean The Gallopin' Kind"), Move Into germany by Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, When The Yanks Go Marching In by Woody Guthrie, Roosevelt & Hitler, Pts. 1 &2 by Buster "Buzz" Ezell, Coming In On A Wing And A Prayer by The Four Vagabonds, Berlin Or Bust by Sam Browne & the Six Swingers, Mr Hitler by Leadbelly and more. Good notes by Neil Kellas. (FS)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Buzzola 014 Got A Light, Mac? ● CD $16.98
18 tracks, highly recommended
Another fine thematic collection with cool artwork - this time on the subject of cigarettes and smoking featuring songs recorded between 1926 and 1954. Like others in this series it's a bit shorter than I would like but truly entertaining. Most of the songs are pretty direct but good old Bo Carter is here to use smoking as a metaphor in his Cigarette Blues ("Just Draw My Cigarette, Baby/ Until My Good Ashes Come). Rev. Gates preaches against Smoking Women On The Street and for those of you who need to expectorate in the cuspidor there are two versions of Chew Tobacco Rag by Billy Briggs. Peggy Lee advises us Don't Smoke In Bed, The Mills Brothers give us Smoke Rings and what would a smoking collection be without a version of Cigareets & Whusky & Wild Wild Women, this time by The Sons Of The Pioneers. Also puffing away are The Maddox Brothers & Rose (a tremendous version of Dim Lights, Thick Smoke), Mildred Bailey, Alberta Hunter, Fats Waller, Curtis Gordon and others. Informative notes by Neil Kellas. (FS)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Collectables 0850 Negro Prison Blues & Songs ● CD $7.98
23 tracks, 70 minutes, essential
For anyone wondering what blues was like before the earliest recordings landed on the commercial market in the 1920s, there are very few projects that can match the power, purity and passion available in the 28 tracks on this stunning collection of vintage Alan Lomax recordings. What this disc consists of, more than likely, is what Charley Patton, Son House and others heard as Pre-war fieldhands heard before they picked up their guitars and went on to become recording artists. As dark and rich as the fertile Mississippi soil, there's an unmatched beauty in this music from the Mississippi and Louisiana State Penitentiaries. Issued previously on various labels, this budget-priced offering from Collectables is simply some of the most stunning and earthy music ever recorded. No More My Lord/ Old Dollar Mamie/ Levee Camp Holler/ Old Alabama/ Duckin' And Dodgin' and many more. Timeless and beautiful!(CR)  

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Documents 223663 The Ladies In Blues ● CD $25.98
Four CD set, 82 tracks, recommended
Four CD set in book style package with 82 tracks of female blues ranging from Mamie Smith's seminal recording of Crazy Blues in 1920 to Billie Holiday's 1951 recording of Rocky Mountain Blues. It includes "classic" blues, country blues, jazz blues and more. Among the many great vocalists are Ida Cox, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Mattie Delaney, Lottie Beaman (one of my all time favorites Rolling Log Blues), Lillian Glinn, Hattie McDaniel, Memphis Minnie, Alice Moore, Merline Johnson, Mildred Bailey, Lil Green, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Helen Humes, Dinah washington and others. It's all been out before but this is a nicely compiled collection with 32 page booklet with discography and notes on the performers plus photos of most of them. (FS)
IVIE ANDERSON: Rocks In My Bed/ MILDRED BAILEY: Arkansas Blues/ Down Hearted Blues/ St. Louis Blues/ WEE BEA BOOZE: Uncle Sam Come And Get Him/ LOTTIE BEAMAN: Rolling Log Blues/ LUCILLE BOGAN: Reckless Woman/ SAVANNAH CHURCHILL: Hurry, Hurry!/ MARTHA COPLAND: Nobody Rocks Me Like My Baby Do/ IDA COX: Confidential Blues/ Death Letter Blues/ I've Got The Blues For Rampart Street/ Last Time Blues/ So Soon This Morning Blues/ Worried Any How Blues/ MATTIE DELANEY: Tallahatchie River Blues/ PEARL DICKSON: Little Rock Blues/ LILLIAN GLINN: Cravin' A Man Blues/ LIL GREEN: Why Don't You Do Right?/ LUCILLE HEGAMIN: Land Of Cotton Blues/ ROSA HENDERSON: Can't Be Bothered With No Sheik/ BERTHA "CHIPPIE" HILL: Some Cold Rainy Day/ BILLIE HOLIDAY: Baby I Don't Cry Over You/ Billie's Blues/ Long Gone Blues/ Long Gone Blues/ Rocky Mountain Blues/ ROSETTA HOWARD: How Long Daddy (Will You Treat Me This Way)/ HELEN HUMES: Gonna Buy Me A Telephone/ He May Be Your Man/ Married Man Blues/ Pleasing Man Blues/ They Raided The Joint/ Today I Sing The Blues/ ALBERTA HUNTER: Nobody Knows The Way I Feel Dis Mornin'/ LIL JOHNSON: That Bonus Done Gone Thru/ MERLINE JOHNSON: Pallet On The Floor/ ETTA JONES: Evil Gal Blues/ I May Be Wonderful/ Long, Long Journey/ Salty Papa Blues/ IDA MAY MACK: Mr. Moore Blues/ SARA MARTIN: Late Last Night/ TINY MAYBERRY: Mailman Blues/ HATTIE MCDANIEL: I Thought I'd Do It/ MEMPHIS MINNIE: Bumble Bee/ Frisco Town/ I'm Talking About You/ LIZZIE MILES: My Man O' War/ MEMPHIS MINNIE: Me And My Chauffeur Blues/ ALICE MOORE: My Man Blues/ MA RAINEY: Black Eye Blues/ Booze And Blues/ Jealous Hearted Blues/ Night Time Blues/ See See Rider Blues/ JUNE RICHMOND: 47the Street Jive/ Hey Lawdy Mama/ Unlucky Blues/ SISTER ROSETTA THARPE: That's All/ BESSIE SMITH: Empty Bed Blues/ Haunted House Blues/ Nashville Women's Blues/ Rocking Chair Blues/ The House Blues/ CLARA SMITH: Shipwrecked Blues/ MAMIE SMITH: Crazy Blues/ VICTORIA SPIVEY: Dirty T.B. Blues/ ROSETTA THARPE: Trouble In Mind/ SISTER ROSETTA THARPE: I Want A Tall Skinny Papa/ Shout, Sister, Shout!/ Trouble In Mind/ DINAH WASHINGTON: All Or Nothing Blues/ Blues For A Day/ Mellow Mama Blues/ Rich Man's Blues/ Salty Papa Blues/ Wise Woman Blues/ ETHEL WATERS: Birmingham Bertha/ My Handy Man/ GEORGIA WHITE: The Blues Ain't Nothin' But?/ EDITH WILSON: My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS JSP JSPCD 7781 Mississippi Blues, Rare Cuts 1926-1941 ● CD $28.98
Four CDs, 100 tracks, essential
Utterly fantastic collection of Mississippi country blues. JSP has already issued some sets featuring the big names in Mississippi blues (JSP 7702 - "Charlie Patton & Associates - Complete Recordings", 7715 - "Legends Of Country Blues" and JSP 7719 "Big Joe Williams & The Stars Of Mississippi Blues" - $28.98) but this set features lesser known artists - many who only recorded a couple of songs but what recordings they were - in many cases the equal of recordings made by the more well known figures. At first I was taken aback that the set is not organiezd by artist or chronologically but then I realized what a smart move that was - like those old OJL or Yazoo LPs we collected in the 60s and 70s you never know what's going to come next but you can be sure that it will be great. Mississippi blues is noted for its intensity and there's no shortage of that here with incredible tracks like Jim Thompkins' Bedside Blues - his only issued recording but a truly monumental performance with a vocal reminsicent of Robert Johnson and a unique plangent slide guitar style. Why oh why didn't he record more? Then there's the magnificent William Harris who recorded about a dozen sides though only a few of them have been found - his I'm Leavin' Town and Bullfrog Blues with their hypnotic churning rhythm are among my all time favorites. The Mississippi Moaner (Isaiah Nettles) takes Blind Lemon Jefferson material and turns it into pure Mississippi blues.
On the more unusual front we have Walter Rhodes who accompanies himself on primitive accordion accompanied by Pet & Can on guitars or the intriguing Willie '61" Blackwell - a somewhat limited musician who makes up for it with truly fascinating lyrics. We also get songs and alternate takes only discovered in recent years of Son House, Blind Willie Reynolds and Robert Johnson and so much more from the like of Garfield Akers, The Mississippi Jook Band, Geeshie Wiley, Freddie Spruell (possibly the first Mississippi country bluesman to record), Joe McCoy, Charlie McCoy, Mose Andrews, J.D. Short, Bogus Ben Covington, Buddy Boy Hawkins, Robert Lockwood, George Torey, King Solomon Hill and more. There's not a single track that's less than excellent and many are truly outstanding. Sound is as good as one can expect for on some of these extremely rare records and brief notes by Neil Slaven help round out an exceptional package. This is one of those few box sets where you can play all the CDs one after another without the slightest trace of boredom. (FS)
GARFIELD AKERS: Cottonfield Blues Pt 1/ Cottonfield Blues Pt 2/ Dough Roller Blues/ Jumpin' And Shoutin' Blues/ MOSE ANDREWS: Ten Pound Hammer/ Young Heifer Blues/ KID BAILEY: Mississippi Bottom Blues/ Rowdy Blues/ WILLIE '61' BLACKWELL: Bald Eagle Blues/ Chalk My Toy/ WILLIE ‘61' BLACKWELL: Don't Misuse Me, Baby/ WILLIE '61' BLACKWELL: Four O'Clock Flower Blues/ Machine Gun Blues/ Noiseless Motor Blues/ Rampaw Street Blues/ She's Young And Wild/ MISSISSIPPI BRACEY: Cherry Ball/ I'll Overcome Someday/ Stered Gal/ You Scolded Me And Drove Me/ SAM BUTLER: Devil And My Brown Blues/ Jefferson County Blues/ Poor Boy Blues/ You Can't Keep No Brown/ JOE CALICOTT: Fare Thee Well Blues/ Traveling Mama Blues/ SAM COLLINS: Devil In The Lion's Den/ Loving Lady Blues/ The Jail House Blues/ Yellow Dog Blues/ BOGUS BEN COVINGTON: Adam And Eve In The Garden/ Boodle-De-Bum Blues/ MATTIE DELANEY: Down The Big Road Blues/ Tallahatchie River Blues/ WILLIAM HARRIS: Bull Frog Blues/ Early Mornin' Blues/ I'm Leavin' Town/ Leavin' Here Blues/ BUDDY BOY HAWKINS: Jailhouse Fire Blues/ Number Three Blues/ Shaggy Fog Blues/ Snatch It Back Blues/ KING SOLOMON HILL: My Buddy Blind Papa Lemon/ Tell Me Baby/ Times Has Done Got Hard/ SON HOUSE: Clarksdale Moan/ Mississippi County Farm Blues/ ROBERT JOHNSON: Traveling Riverside Blues Tk 1/ ROBERT LOCKWOOD: Black Spider Blues/ I'm Gonna Train My Baby/ Little Boy Blue/ Take A Little Walk With Me/ MISSISSIPPI JOOK BAND: Barbecue Bust/ Dangerous Woman/ Hittin' The Bottle Stomp/ MISSISSIPPI MOANER: It's Cold In China Blues/ Mississippi Moan/ MISSISSIPPI JOOK BAND: Skippy Whippy/ CHARLIE McCOY: Baltimore Blues/ Last Time Blues/ Motherless And Fatherless Blues/ JOE McCOY: Evil Devil Woman Blues/ Look Who's Coming Down The Road/ Meat Cutter Blues/ When The Levee Breaks/ ARTHUR PETTIES: Good Boy Blues/ Out On Santa Fe Blues/ Quarrellin' Mama Blues/ Revenue Man Blues/ That Won't Do/ Two Time Blues/ BLIND JOE REYNOLDS: Cold Woman Blues/ BLIND WILLIE REYNOLDS: Married Man Blues/ BLIND JOE REYNOLDS: Ninety Nine Blues/ BLIND WILLIE REYNOLDS: Third Street Woman Blues/ WALTER RHODES: Leaving Home Blues/ The Crowing Rooster/ JELLY JAW SHORT: Barefoot Blues/ Grand Daddy Blues/ Snake Doctor Blues/ FREDDIE SPRUELL: 4A Highway/ Don't Cry Baby/ Let's Go Riding/ Milk Cow Blues/ Mr Freddie's Kokomo Blues/ Muddy Water Blues/ Way Back Down Home/ Your Good Man Is Gone/ JOE STONE: Back Door Blues/ It's Hard Time/ ELVA THOMAS & GEESHIE WILEY: Motherless Child Blues/ JIM THOMPKINS: Bedside Blues/ GEORGE TOREY: Lonesome Man Blues/ Married Woman Blues/ OTTO VIRGIAL: Bad Notion Blues/ Got The Blues About Rome/ Little Girl In Rome/ GEESHIE WILEY: Last Kind Words Blues/ Over To My House/ Skinny Leg Blues

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS JSP JSPCD 7792 Crescent City Bounce - From Blues To R&B In New Orleans ● CD $28.98
Four CD set, 119 tracks, very highly recommended
Terrific collection of New Orleans blues and R&B from the late 40s to mid 50s. The first disc includes the complete recordings of the superb singer and piano player Archibald (Leon T. Gross) including his classic two part Stack-A-Lee as well as other great songs like She's Scattered Everywhere and Great Big Eyes (Those Little Reds). This disc also includes 10 tracks recorded in New Orleans by the witty singer, songwriter and piano player Pleasant Joseph that were issued under the name of Smilin' Joe including his two part A.B.C.'s. On most of his sides Joe is accompanied by New Orleans stalwarts Joe Harris, Clarence Hall, herb Hardesty, Salvador Doucette, Ernest McLean, Frank Fields and Earl Palmer - a group of musicians who appear on many of tracks on this set along with Dave Bartholomew, Alvin Tyler, Lee Allen and others. This disc ends with six tracks recorded in New Orleans by the great Roosevelt Sykes who, 25 years after his first recordings sounds as fresh and vital as ever. Disc two includes 22 sides by the excellent and underrated Tommy Ridgley recorded between 1949 and 1954 including one session featuring Ray Charles on piano. This disc also includes the earliest sides of Ernie K-Doe issued as Ernest Kador with His Blue Diamonds and four sides by excellent singer and guitarist Billy Tate whose sturdy guitar work is featured on a number of tracks on this collection and he takes a fine solo on his own Cryin' In The Morning and his Single Life. The rest of disc three and all of disc four mostly features artists who recorded only a handful of sides - most of it of a very high standard including George "Blazer-Boy" Stevenson, The Royal Kings (actually dave Bartholomew's band), Rodney Harris, Leonard Lee (of Shirley & Lee), Bobby Marchan (two sides from 1956 with hot guitar from Earl King), Little Booker (the first recordings of James Booker), Big Boy Myles, Roy Montrell (his classic [Every Time I Hear] That Mellow Saxophone), Willie Johnson, Fat Man Matthews and others. If you have any liking for New Orleans R&B (that's just about everybody!) this is an indispensible collection. Many of the tracks have been out on CD before but it's great to have all these classic recordings in one place. Sound is generally excellent and there are brief, informative notes by Neil Slaven and discographical info. (FS)
LEE ALLEN: Jam Up/ Wish I Had Never/ ARCHIBALD: Ballin' With Archie/ Ballin' With Archie/ Crescent City Bounce/ Early Morning Blues/ Great Big Eyes (those Little Reds)/ House Party Blues/ Little Miss Muffett/ My Gal/ Shake Baby Shake/ She's Scattered Everywhere/ Soon As I Go Home/ Stack-A-Lee, Part 1/ Stack-A-Lee, Part 2/ BLAZER-BOY: Joes's Kid Sister/ Mornin' Train/ Surprise Blues/ Waiting For My Baby/ AUGUST DUPONT: I'm Gonna Cross That River/ Ooh Lawdy My Baby/ LIL' WILLIE GIBSON: Brother Bill/ Why/ JIMMY GIL: Gather 'round/ North Wind/ RODNEY HARRIS: Blow Your Top/ EARL JOHNSON: Beggin' At Your Mercy/ Have You Gone Crazy/ WILLIE JOHNSON: Say Baby/ That Night/ LITTLE SONNY JONES: Going Back To The Country/ I Got Booted/ Tend To Your Business Blues/ Winehead Baby/ ERNEST KADOR: Do Baby Do/ No Money/ So Glad You're Mine/ You Never Miss A Good Woman/ EARL KING: 'til I Say Well Done/ A Mother's Love/ Baby You Can Get Your Gun/ Eating And Sleeping/ Funny Face/ I'll Take You Back/ I'm Packing Up/ I'm Your Best Bet, Baby/ Is Everything All Right/ It Must Have Been Love/ Little Girl/ Mother Told Me Not To Go/ My Love Is Strong/ No One But Me/ Nobody Cares/ Sitting And Wondering/ Those Lonely, Lonely Nights/ THE KINGS: What Can I Do/ LLOYD LAMBERT: Heavy Sugar/ Whistlin' Joe/ LEONARD LEE: Tryin' To Fool Me/ When The Sun Goes Down/ RAY LEWIS & THE FOUR BARS: Jealous Blues/ When You Were Mine/ LITTLE BOOKER: Doing The Hambone/ Thinking About My Baby/ LITTLE MR. MIDNIGHT: 4 O'clock Blues/ Got A Brand New Baby/ BOBBY MARCHAN: Give A Helping Hand/ Have Mercy/ Pity Poor Me/ FAT MATHEWS: You Know It/ FATS MATHEWS: Down The Line/ Goin' Down/ GEORGE MILLER & HIS MIDRIFFS: Boogie's The Thing/ ROY MONTRELL: (every Time I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone/ BIG BOY MYLES: Hickory Dickory Dock/ That Girl I Married/ Who's Been Fooling You/ TOMMY RIDGLEY: A Day Is Coming/ Anything But Love/ Boogie Woogie Mama/ Booted/ Come Home Baby/ Early Dawn Boogie/ Good Times/ Got You On My Mind/ I Live My Life/ Junie Mae/ Lavinia/ Lonely Man Blues/ Looped/ Monkey Man/ Nobody Cares/ Once In A Lifetime/ Shrewsbury Blues/ Tra La La/ THE ROYAL KINGS: Bouncin' The Boogie/ Teachin' And Preachin'/ SMILIN' JOE: A.B.C.'s Part 1/ A.B.C.'s Part 2/ Dinah/ How Long Must I Wait/ Living On Borrowed Time/ Lovesick Soul/ Misery/ Second Hand Love/ Sleep Walking Woman/ Won't Settle Down/ GEORGE STEVENSON: Easin' Tan/ Meet Me At Grandma's Joint/ ROOSEVELT SYKES: Blood Stains/ Crazy Fox/ Hush Oh Hush/ I'm Tired/ Sweet Old Chicago/ You Can't Be Lucky All The Time/ BILLY TATE: Cryin' In The Morning/ Ooh Ooh Baby/ Single Life/ You Told Me

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS JSP JSPCD 7795 The Road To Robert Johnson & Beyond ● CD $28.98
Another look at the Robert Johnson myth in this four CD set with 105 tracks. The first disc features artists and songs that may have had an impact on the development of Johnson's music - Son House, Skip james, Carl Rafferty, Peetie Wheatstraw, Ramblin' Thomas, Charley Patton, Lonnie Johnson, Leroy Carr, The Mississippi Sheiks and others. The second disc features one take of each of Johnson's recordings. The third disc and part of the fourth features artists who were influence by Johnson - Muddy waters, Calvin Frazier, Johnny Shines, Honeboy Edwards, Elmore james, Homesick James and others and the rest of disc four is the first CD reissue of a long out of print JSP LP from 1978 featuring six tracks by Johnny Shines and 11 by Blind Will Dukes.
DISC 1:SON HOUSE: Walkin' Blues / LEROY CARR: Mean Mistreater Mama/ JOHNNY TEMPLE :Lead Pencil Blues/ SKIP JAMES: Devil Got My Woman/ BLIND BLAKE: Georgia Bound/ LONNIE JOHNSON: Blue Ghost Blues/ CARL RAFFERTY: Mr. Carl's Blues/ BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON: Change My Luck Blues/ TAMPA RED: Things 'Bout Coming My Way/ PEETIE WHEATSTRAW: Police Station Blues/ KOKOMO ARNOLD: Old Original Kokomo Blues/ HAMBONE WILLIE NEWBERN: Roll And Tumble Blues/ RAMBLIN' THOMAS: No Job Blues/ BIG BILL BROONZY: Shelby County Blues/ MA RAINEY & HER GEORGIA JAZZ BAND: Booze And Blues/ CHARLEY PATTON: You're Gonna Somebody When You Die/ SKIP JAMES: 22/20 Blues/ KOKOMO ARNOLD: Milk Cow Blues/ SON HOUSE: Preachin' The Blues Pt.1/ LONNIE JOHNSON: Life Saver Blues/ JOHNNY TEMPLE: Evil Devil Blues/ LEROY CARR: When the Sun Goes Down/ HENRY THOMAS: Red River Blues/ BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON: Dry Southern Blues/ THE MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS: Show Me What You Got DISC 2:ROBERT JOHNSON: Kind Hearted Woman Blues/ I Believe I'll Dust My Broom/ Sweet Home Chicago/ Ramblin' On My Mind/ When You Got A Good Friend/ Come On In My Kitchen/ Terraplane Blues/ They're Red Hot/ Phonograph/ 32-20 Blues/ Dead Shrimp Blues/ Cross Road Blues/ Walkin' Blues/ Last Fair Deal Gone Down/ Preachin' Blues/ If I Had Possession over Judgement Day/ Stones In My Passway/ I'm A Steady Rollin' Man/ From Four Until Late/ Hell Hound On My Trail/ Little Queen Of Spades/ Malted Milk/ Drunken Hearted Man/ Me And the Devil Blues/ Stop Breakin' Down Blues/ Travelin' Riverside Blues/ Honeymoon Blues/ Love In Vain/ Milkcow's Calf Blues DISC 3: MUDDY WATERS: Country Blues No.1/ I Be's Troubled/ Burr Clover Farm Blues/ Ramblin' Kid Blues/ Rosalie/ Take A Walk With Me/ Burr Clover Blues/ I Be Bound To Write To You No.1/ I Be Bound To Write To You No.2/ You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone/ You Got To Take Sick And Die Of Some Of These Days/ Why Don't You Live So God Can Use you/ Country Blues No.2/ You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone No.2/ 32-20 Blues/ ROBERT LOCKWOOD; Little Boy Blue/ CALVIN FRAZIER: She's A Double-Crossin' Woman/ ROBERT LEE MCCOY: Friar's Point Blues/ BIG JOE WILLIAMS: I'm A Highway Man/ JOHNNY SHINES: Evil Hearted Woman Blues / CALVIN FRAZIER: Lilly Mae No.1/ JOHNNY SHINES: Ramblin'/ HONEYBIY EDWARDS: Sweet Home Chicago/ JOHNNY SHINES: Fishtail/ LITTLE WALTER: Muskadine Blues DISC 4: ELMORE JAMES: Dust My Broom/ HOMESICK JAMES: Long Lonesome Day/ BABY FACE LEROY FOSTER: Rollin' & Tumblin' Pts.1 & 2/ HOMESICK JAMES: Johnnie Mae/ BABY BOY WARREN: Stop Breaking Down/ ELMORE JAMES: Standing At the Crossroads/ HOMESICK JAMES: Lonesome Blues/ Homesick/ ELMORE JAMES: I Believe/ JOHNNY SHINES: Rambling Blues/ Maggie Lee Blues/ You're the One That I Love/ Sweet Home Chicago/ Shake 'Em On Down/ Moanin' & Groanin' the Blues/ BLIND WILL DUKES: Terraplane Blues/ Dead Shrimp Blues/ Steady Rollin' Man/ Me And the Devil/ Mean Hearted Woman/ Ramblin' Blues/ Hobo Blues/ Milk Cow Blues/ Mistreated So Long/ Sail On Little Woman/ Hoodoo Man

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Stackhouse 1910 Keep It To Yourself - Arkansas Blues, Vol. 1 : Solo ● CD $15.90
Field recordings made in Arkansas in the mid 70s by Louis Guida. This album features solo country blues performances (mostly with guitar) by W.C. Clay, Reola Cooper (acapella vocal), Mack White, Willie Moore, Trenton Cooper (with piano), CeDell Davis and others.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Vanguard 208 Vanguard - Roots Of The Blues ● CD $24.98
Not a new release but not listed before. A three CD set of blues drawn from the vaults of the Vanguard label including several previously unissued live tracks from 1964 and 1965 Newport Flk Festival. Disc one is called "Folk Blues" and includes sides by Jesse Fuller, Dave Van Ronk, The Jim Kweskin Jug Band with Maria Muldaur, Josh White, Mance Lipscomb and others. Disc two is "Delta & Country Blues" with tracks by Mississippi John Hurt, Bukka White, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Mance Lipscomb, Robert Pete Williams and others. The third disc is "Urban Blues" with tracks by Junior Wells, James Cotton,  Buddy Guy,  Charlie Musellwhite, John Lee Hooker and more.
EDDIE BOYD & WILLIE DIXON: Five Long Years/ PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND: Blues with a Feeling/ THE CHAMBERS BROTHERS: See See Rider/ ELIZABETH COTTON: Freight Train/ JAMES COTTON: Rocket 88/ REV. GARY DAVIS: You Got To Move/ SLEEPY JOHN ESTES: Clean Up at Home/ JESSE FULLER: San Fransico Bay Blues/ TONY GLOVER: I Don't Need No Whiskey/ BUDDY GUY: One Room Country Shack/ JOHN HAMMOND: Statesboro Blues/ HOMESICK JAMES & HIS DUSTERS: Dust My Broom/ JOHN LEE HOOKER: Boom Boom/ LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS: Baby Please Don't Let Go/ SON HOUSE: Empire State Express/ MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT: Candy Man/ J.B. HUTTO & THE HAWKS: Going Ahead/ SKIP JAMES: Devil Got My Woman/ I'm So Glad/ SPIDER JOHN KOERNER: Traveling Blues/ JIM KWESKIN JUG BAND WITH GEOFF & MARIA MULD: Chevrolet/ JIM KWESKIN JUG BAND WITH MARIA MULDAUR: Richland Woman/ MANCE LIPSCOMB: Freddie/ Keep on Truckin' Mama/ MISSISSIPPI FRED MCDOWELL: If the River Was Whiskey/ SAM & KIRK MCGEE: Milk Cow Blues/ MEMPHIS SLIM: How Long/ BILL MONROE: Blue Yodel #4/ CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE: Juke/ ODETTA: Nobody Knows You When You're Down & Out/ OTIS RUSH: I Can't Quit You Baby/ BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond/ JOHNNY SHINES BLUES BAND: If I Get Lucky/ OTIS SPANN: Marie/ SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE MCGHEE: Key to the Highway/ BIG MAMA THORNTON: Ball and Chain/ DAVE VAN RONK: Cocaine/ ERIC VON SCHMIDT: Grizzly Bear/ MUDDY WATERS: I Can't Be Satisfied/ Blow Wind Blow/ JUNIOR WELLS: Messin' with the Kid/ BUKKA WHITE: Aberdeen Mississippi Blues/ JOSH WHITE: What You Gonna Do When Your Meat Gives Out?/ ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS: Midnight Boogie/ JOHNNY YOUNG'S SOUTH SIDE BLUES BAND: One More Time

 
EDDIE "CLEANHEAD VINSON/ JIM WYNN JSP JSPCD 7760 Honk For Texas ● CD $28.98
4 CDs, 103 tracks, 4 hours 53 min., recommended
This collection spends two and a half discs chronicling Vinson's solo career, beginning with his days at Mercury directly after leaving the Cootie WIlliams Orchestra, and ending with his tenure at King Records (1949-52), where he and owner Sid Nathan did not always see eye-to-eye on his music. Vinson, with his identifying vocal catch, was not just the most popular Texas sax player of his time, but his orchestra took a proverbial back seat to few others (the obvious exceptions being Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway) when it came to fame and drawing power. The last disc and a half are dedicated to fellow Texas sax man Jim Wynn, whose recording career is sampled from 1945-54, with generally pleasing results, even if Wynn's vocalists (he had three!) lacked Vinson's personality and humor. Flimsy cardboard slipcase, but rock solid music and notes from blues scholar Neil Slaven. (JC)

 
CLARA WARD Calvin 098 This Is Gospel - When The Gates Swing Open ● CD $9.98
15 tracks, highly recommended
Terrific gospel collection. The first 12 tracks are a reissue of a Hob LP featuring recordings made by the great Clara Ward and her group The Ward Specials for Gotham between 1950 and 1954. These sessions are poorly documented and some tracks feature Clara accompanied by other groups as well as tracks featuring leads by members of the Specials. Instrumental accompaniments are usually piano or organ plus drums and one cut features a mysterious steel guitar player who seems to turn up on several early Ward recordings but is not even mentioned in her discography! Whatever the details there are some stunning performances on songs like How I got Over/ Faith MOves Mountains/ One Way Street/ On That Great Judgment Morning/ God Moves In A Mysterious Way/ Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehova (a particularly stunning performance) and others. There are three "bonus" cuts by Shirley Caesar and Albertina Walker which are probably from the 60s and includes a wonderful sermonette by Caesar Battlefield. This is an "enhanced" CD and if you put it in a computer plays a short documentary on the history of black gospel and the HOB label in particular. (FS)

 
FOREE "GUITAR" WELLS Stackhouse 1912 It's A New Day Brother ● CD $15.98
13 tracks, 59 mins, highly recommended
Better late than never for this superb example of contemporary blues. Recorded in 1992 and 1994 its release was put on hold by Wells death in 1997 and then the original label it was due to come out on was sold and it's subsequent demise left this album in limbo. Wells had a lengthy musical pedigree working in the vital Memphis blues scene in the 50s and then becoming a session man in Nashville in the 60s before settling down in Louisville, Kentucky. Foree had it all - a great voice, some superb original songs and a tremendous guitar style full of originality and imagination that grabs you and doesn't let go. His band The Walnut Street Blues Band is also superb - tight and focused with some fine horn work. It may be 15 years old but this is the most exciting contemporary blues I've heard in a long time. (FS)

 
TERRY "BIG T" WILLIAMS & WESLEY "JUNEBUG" JEFFERSON Broke & Hungry 13003 Meet Me In The Cotton Field ● CD $14.98
11 tracks, 46 minutes, highly recommended
Listeners will indeed be hard-pressed to find anything more real than the sounds of Terry "Big T" Williams & Wesley "Junebug" Jefferson. Blues music encompasses an awful big piece of real estate these days but the honest-to-goodness, lowdown juke joint blues has very few outlets these days. Thankfully, the Broke & Hungry imprint showcases a selection of artists every blues fan would be well-served listening to. Williams and Jefferson don't need the approval of Joe Q. Public to do what they do best and that's laying down some of the most unaffected blues you're likely to hear anytime soon. From Junebug's stirring acapella versions of Meet Me In The Bottom and Blues Is Like The River to Big T's Incarcerated Blues or Muddy's Can't Be Satisfied, this pair delivers the goods for three-quarters of an hour. Incredibly raw, stripped-down and powerful.  (CR)

 
RUSTY ZINN Bad Daddy 23 ReggaeBlue ● CD $14.98
12 tracks, 60 min., recommended
Zinn stakes out the territory where blue-eyed soul meets reggae on his latest release, while still keeping his hand in the blues and soul genres, as Just Take Your Time confirms. But the emphasis is on reggae (and on his religious conviction, which while worn on his sleeve never becomes preachy). Although Zinn plays a stinging guitar, plenty of guitar slingers do, but Zinn writes his own songs, has a wonderful sense of melody, and sings better than just about any of his neck-sliding, string bending cousins. Those unfamiliar with Zinn might find themselves searching for his back catalog after hearing this. (JC)

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