|Little Willie Littlefield||Trouble Around Me||Kat On The Keys|
|Little Willie Littlefield||Mello Cats||The Modern Recordings Vol 2|
|Little Willie Littlefield||Jim Wilson's Boogie||Going Back To Kay Cee|
|Mooch Richardson||Big Kate Adams Blues||Country Blues Collector's Items 1924-1928|
|Blanche Johnson||2.16 Blues||Elzadie Robinson Vol.1 1926-1928|
|Jazz Gillum||Big Katy Adams||Bill ''Jazz'' Gillum Vol. 2 1938-41|
|Joel Hopkins||I Ain't Gonna Roll For The Big Hat Man No More||Rural Blues Vol. 2 1951-1962|
|Leroy Ervin||Rock Island Line||Down Home Blue Classics 1943-1953
|John Hogg||Got A Mean Evil Woman||Take A Greyhound Bus And Ride|
|Willie Carr||Outside Friend||The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)|
|Shy Guy Douglas||Hip Shakin' Mama (Shy Guy's Back In Town)||The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
|Joseph Dobbin & The Four Cruisers||On Account Of You||The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)|
|Walter Vincson||The Wrong Man||Walter Vincson 1928-1941|
|Joe McCoy||Well, Well||Charlie & Joe McCoy Vol. 1|
|Two Poor Boys||Down In Black Bottom||The Two Poor Boys 1927-1931|
|Arthur Griswold||What The Judge Did To Me||Vintage Toledo Blues|
|Calvin Frazier & Barbara Brown||I Need Love||Vintage Toledo Blues|
|Edmonia Henderson||Brownskin Man||Meaning In The Blues|
|Alberta Jones||Wild Geese Blues||Gennett Jazz 1922-1930|
|Lizzie Washington||Fall Or Summer Blues||Gennett Jazz 1922-1930|
|Buddy Guy||Buddy's Blues||Buddy And The Juniors|
|Arlean Brown||I Love My Man||Sings The Blues In The Loop|
|John Brim||Go Away||Chicago Downhome Harmonica Vol. 1|
|Furry Lewis||Why Don't You Come Home Blues||Good Morning Judge|
|Cat Iron||Gonna Walk Your Log||Cat-Iron Sings Blues and Hymn|
|Lost John Hunter||Y-M And V Blues||The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)|
|Unknown Artist||Got Me A Horse And Wagon||The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)|
|Billy “Red” Love||It Ain't No More||The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)|
|Irene Scruggs||You've Got Just What I want||Gennett Jazz 1922-1930|
|Barbecue Bob With Nellie Florence||Jacksonville Blues||Chocolate To The Bone|
|Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker & Otis Spann||Blues Jam||Super Black Blues|
Another mix show chock full of great and rare records. We kick off with a trio of sides from the recently passed Little Willie Littlefield, a great pianist and vocalist who emerged when the West Coast was jumping in the late 1940's. Also featured today are two sets from Bear Family's epic 10-CD box set, The Sun Blues Box 1950-1958, a set devoted to songs about the Kate Adams steamboat, some fine pre-war blues, excellent down-home tracks from the post-war era, several fine blues ladies and close with a long jam between some blues greats.
There were several strains of blues that rose to prominence on the West Coast in the 40's including a moody, after hours brand of piano blues popularized by the inimitable Charles Brown who himself was influenced by Nat King Cole. Brown’s influence was profound, setting the stage for fellow pianists like Amos Milburn, Floyd Dixon, Ivory Joe Hunter, Cecil Gant, Roy Hawkins and Little Willie Littlefield. Littlefield possessed a distinctive smokey voice and was equally at home on moody numbers like "Trouble All Around Me" to romping piano pieces like "Jim Wilson's Boogie." While Littlefield remained active in Europe he never got the high profile comeback treatment his contemplates Charles Brown received or to a lesser extent Floyd Dixon. Littlefield has been well served on reissues by the Ace label which has released three collections of his vintage sides: Kat On The Keys, Going Back To Kay Cee, Boogie and Blues And Bounce: The Modern Recordings Vol. 2.
Little Willie Littlfield died on June 23 in the Netherlands at the age of 81. He was already a veteran when he waxed "K.C. Loving" in 1951, the original version of "Kansas City" although it only charted when Wilbert Harrison picked it up seven years later resulting in a huge smash. After a few sides for Eddie's and Freedom, Littlefield moved over to the Modern label in 1949, scoring with two major R&B hits, "It's Midnight" and "Farewell." Littlefield proved a sensation upon moving to L.A. during his Modern tenure, playing at area clubs and touring with a band that included saxist Maxwell Davis. After a few 1957-58 singles for Oakland’s Rhythm logo, little was heard from Little Willie Littlefield until the late 1970’s, when he began to mount a comeback at various festivals and on the European circuit. He eventually settled in the Netherlands, where he remained active musically.
The Kate Adams, actually the third riverboat with that name, was built in Pittsburgh in 1898. The big sidewheeler was 240 feet long, with a pair of tall smokestacks, three grand decks, and a main cabin stretching more than 175 feet, that was lighted with newfangled electric chandeliers. Workers along the river swore they could recognize that distinctive clang 14 miles away. Some 2,000 people greeted the Lovin' Kate, as the boat came to be known, when she first arrived to join the Memphis and Arkansas River Packet Company. The Kate ferried cotton, cargo, and passengers up and down the Mississippi river. The Kate Adams burnt to the ground on January 8, 1927. Several songs reference the steamboat including the three we feature today: Mooch Richardson "Big Kate Adams Blues", Blanche Johnson (Elzadie Robinson) "2.16 Blues" and Jazz Gillum's "Big Katy Adams." The Gillum song imagines a race between the Kate Adams and the Jim Lee which was another Mississippi steamboat. The Jim Lee was immortalized in Charlie Patton's "Jim Lee Blues Pt. 1 & 2."
Nearly 30 years after the original Sun Blues Box was released on LP, it's back as a 10-CD set on Bear Family with much more than was on the original set. The Charley label originally issued this as a 3-LP set in 1983, then as a 9-LP set in 1985 then in 1996 as an 8-CD set. From the Bear Family press release: "Recently discovered music from well-known artists … and incredible artifacts like Sam Phillips narrating a radio commercial for a West African herbalist who would soon be jailed for selling bogus patent medicine. Recordings produced by Phillips but issued on Chess, RPM, Trumpet and other labels were unavailable in 1983, but are now included. Researcher Steve LaVere finally allowed the world to hear the Sun audio and see the Sun-related photos he collected back in the late 1960s. In fact, the entire blues research community came together to make this a once-in-a-lifetime blues experience!" The set come with an exhaustive, illustrated booklet that I have only had a chance to glance at so far. After thirty years of reissues this should be the last word on the Sun blues story. Included today are tracks that have not appeared on the previous box sets.
We have some excellent Chicago blues featured today including a great album I picked up recently by Arlean Brown called Sings The Blues In The Loop and one by Buddy Guy. Brown's album was issued sometime in the early 70's and feature an all-star Chicago band including Little Mack Simmons, Detroit Junior and Lonnie Brooks. Brown was a Chicago singer who, in addition to the album, also released some 45's. Brown was 51 when she recorded the 45 "I'm a Streaker.” It launched her career in music after selling a purported 78,000 copies, and the former cab driver and corner-grocery owner became part of a revue run by harmonica player Mack Simmons at Pepper's Hideout — and eventually broke out with her own Arlean Brown X-Rated Revue. It appears her album was self-pressed and reissued in 1977 on the Black Magic label. I have been unable to find out much else about her or what happened to her after the 70's.
Buddy Guy had reportedly come to the end of the road with Vanguard Records, which had released his previous three albums, including 1968's acclaimed A Man and the Blues. Guy had asked Michael Cuscuna, a 20-year-old college student he'd befriended, to help produce his final Vanguard album, but when that project ran into problems, Cuscuna went to Blue Thumb. That label provided a meager budget for the album that bought a day of studio time, but didn't allow for a band beyond the three stars and drummer Fred Below. Guy played acoustic guitar, Junior Mance added jazzy keyboard flourishes, and Wells laid down some fine harp. The all-acoustic Buddy & the Juniors was recorded on December 18 of 1969, and on December 19 they mixed this album.
Another collection I picked up recently was a 4-CD set on JSP called Gennett Jazz 1922-1930. All the 78's come from collector Joe Bussard's collection – if you haven't seen the documentary on him, Desperate Man Blues, it's well worth checking out. There's blues interest here with several fine, lesser known, blues ladies included. Today we feature selections by Lizzie Washington, who cut fourteen sides at session in 1927 and 1929, Edmonia Henderson, who cut just over a dozen sides between 1923 and 1926 and Alberta Jones who cut sixteen sides, other sides were unissued, between 1923 and 1930 all for the Gennett label.
We conclude the show with a lengthy blues between jam between Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann. In 1969, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann got together and did a jam session that was released as Super Black Blues in 1969 on the Bluestime label. Also on the record in a supporting role is the great George “Harmonica” Smith. A second volume was recorded live at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1970 featured Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson instead of Otis Spann. As blues jams go, this is a very good one. Big Joe did a number of these type of things in the 70's for Pablo with mixed results – the one with Pee Wee Crayton (Everyday I Have The Blues), though, is worth checking out.