Entries tagged with “Louisiana Red”.
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Sun 11 Oct 2015
|Lonnie Johnson||Man Killing Broad||Lonnie Johnson Vol. 1 1937-1940
|Bill Gaither||Bloody Eyed Woman||Bill Gaither Vol. 4 1939
|Whistlin' Alex Moore||Ice Pick Blues||Whistlin' Alex Moore 1929-1951
|Walter 'Cowboy' Washington||Ice Pick Mama||Texas Seaport 1934-1937
|Louisiana Red ||Sweet Blood Call||Sweet Blood Call
|Lazy Lester||Bloodstains On The Wall||I'm A Lover Not A Fighter
|Mary Johnson ||Death Cell Blues||Mary Johnson 1929-1936
|Bessie Smith||Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair||The Complete Recordings
|Victoria Spivey ||Blood Thirsty Blues||Victoria Spivey Vol. 1 1926-1927
|Bama ||Stackalee||Parchman Farm: Photographs and Field Recordings 1947-1959
|Skip James ||22-20 Blues||Complete Early Recordings
|Mississippi John Hurt ||Got The Blues (Can't Be Satisfied)||Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings
|Charles 'Speck' Petrum ||Gambler's Blues||Charlie ''Specks'' McFadden 1929-1937
|Blind Blake ||Playing Policy Blues||All The Published Sides
|Doctor Clayton ||Roaming Gambler||Doctor Clayton And His Buddy 1935-1947
|Lucille Bogan||They Ain't Walking No More||Barrelhouse Mamas
|Memphis Minnie||Down In The Alley||Memphis Minnie Vol. 3 1937
|Sara Martin ||Down At The Razor Ball||Sara Martin Vol. 3 1924-1925
|Washboard Sam||Razor Cuttin' Man||Washboard Sam Vol. 1 1935-1936
|Blind Willie McTell||Razor Ball||Atlanta Twelve String
|Walter Roland||45 Pistol Blues||Walter Roland Vol. 2 1934-1935
|Leroy Carr||Shinin' Pistol||Whiskey Is My Habit, Women Is All I Crave
|Blind Boy Fuller||Pistol Slapper Blues ||Remastered 1935-1938
|Will Shade ||She Stabbed Me With An Ice Pick||Memphis Jug Band Associates & Alternate Takes 1927-1930
|Black Boy Shine ||Ice Pick And Pistol Woman Blues ||Black Boy Shine & Black Ivory King 1936-1937
|Pat Hare||I'm Gonna Murder My Baby||Sun Records - The Blues Years 1950-1956
|Roy Brown||Butcher Pete||Pay Day Jump: The Later Sessions
|Geeshie Wiley||Skinny Legs Blues||Mississippi Masters
|Josie Miles||Mad Mama Blues||Josie Miles Vol. 2 1924-1935
|Jazz Gillum||Gonna Be Some Shooting||Jazz Gillum Vol. 4 1946-1949
|Peetie Wheatstraw||Gangster's Blues||Peetie Wheatstraw Vol. 7 1940-1941
|Georgia Tom & Tampa Red||Crow Jane Alley||Come On Mama Do That Dance
|Jim Jackson ||I'm A Bad Bad Man||Jim Jackson Vol. 1 1927-1928
|Blind Willie McTell|| A To Z Blues||The Classic Years 1927–1940
|Bertha Idaho||Down On Pennsylvania Avenue||Female Blues Singers Vol. 10
|Georgia White||I'll Keep Sittin' On It (If I Can't Sell It)||Georgia White Vol. 2 1936-1937
“The blues, contrary to popular conception, are not always concerned with love, razors, dice, and death," Richard Wright wrote in 1941. While that's certainly true, there are in fact a large number of blues songs that do deal with those topics. Today we feature a wide range of songs about violence and vice. The blues emerged at the turn of the century in the midst of virulent racism and violent repression. Blues musicians of the 1920's and 30's existed in a violent culture where fights were common and it was often common to carry a weapon. In the places where the blues were regularly performed in the early days, the juke joints, there was a considerable amount of violence. Memphis Minnie said that at juke joints she and her husband played they would “have to run at night when they start cutting and shooting.” The south was a virtual apartheid society enforced by "Jim Crow" restrictions, with widespread violence, including lynchings. An increased presence of the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920's contributed to an atmosphere of fear. In the South, mobs lynched many blacks for no other reason than their having acted outside the harsh social restrictions of Jim Crow. As writer Gary Buenett wrote: "The blues enabled Southern black to process the oppression they faced, but more than that, to affirm their humanity over against a system that denied that very fact. it enabled them to state the reality of the troubles, powerlessness, dread, and despair, but at the same time assert their essential humanness through expressions of rage, humor, courage, and of course, sexuality."
Today's lurid title is courtesy of Jazz Gillum from his 1949 number "Gonna Be Some Shooting." The song is a cover of Willie "61" Blackwell's 1941 song "Machine Gun Blues" and was modified and refashioned by Sunnyland Slim as "Johnson Machine Gun." Gillum had several songs filled with violent imagery including "I'm Gonna Take My Rap" ("I'm gonna take my pistol/And cock it in my baby's face/Gonna let some graveyard, baby be your hiding place") and "Can't Trust Myself" ("I'm gonna buy myself a pistol/I'm gonna hang it to my side/I'm going to join the gangsters/People I'm gonna live a reckless life") among others. Gillum was himself a victim of violence. He was murdered in 1966 during a street argument. Echoing Jazz Gillum, several decades later is the harrowing "Sweet Blood Call" by Louisiana Red:
I have a hard time missing you baby, with my pistol in your mouth
You may be thinking 'bout going north, but your brains are staying south
Today's show is filled with guns, knives, razors and even ice picks. One of the more famous gun songs is Skip James' "22-20 Blues" which may have been inspired by the success of the song “44 blues” recorded by Roosevelt Sykes in 1929 as "Forty- Four Blues" and the following year by Little Brother Montgomery as “Vicksburg Blues.” In 1936 Robert Johnson covered the song as “32-20 Blues.”
You talk about your forty-four-forty, buddy it'll do very well
But my thirty-two-twenty, Lord is a burning hell
Woman were the target of much of the violence as evidenced in numerous other songs including Leroy Carr's "Shinin' Pistol" ("I'm going to get me a shiny pistol with a long shiny barrel/I'm going to ramble this town over until I find my girl") and Blind Boy Fuller's "Pistol Slapper Blues" ("And I feel like snapping my pistol in your face/Let some brownskin woman be here to take your place"). Walter Roland's "45 Pistol Blues", on the other hand, is for protection when he heads down to a part of town that must be very close to the well known Tin Pan Alley or maybe Crow Jane Alley:
I'm going over to Third Alley, Lord but I'm going to carry my .45 (2x)
Because you know ain't many men go there and come back alive
They will shoot you and cut you, Lord they will knock you down
Lord, they will shoot you and cut you, Lord they will knock you down
And you can ask anybody ain't that the baddest place in town
Mens carry .38s, womens carry their razors too (2x)
Razors, despite Richard Wright's protest, crop up quite a bit in blues. There was Washboard Sam's "Razor Cuttin' Man", Edith Wilson's "Rules and Regulations 'Signed Razor Jim'", Jazz Gillum's "Long Razor Blues", Perline Ellison's "Razor Totin' Mama", Helen Gross' "Bloody Razor Blues" as well as a school of related songs from the pre-blues era. Around the turn of the century there was the "bully song" or more formally "The Bully of the Town" or "Looking for the Bully." There were several songs published with 'Bully" in the title around this period. Paul Oliver noted that the song "reinforced the stereotypes of the razor-totin', watermelon-suckin', chicken-stealin' 'nigger' of that period." The core of the story is an altercation, usually with a razor, between the bully and a rival with the action usually happening at a dance or ball. In the blues era several songs drawn on these earlier sources including Sara Martin's "Down At The Razor Ball" (1925), Blind Willie McTell's "Razor Ball" (1930) and Washboard Sam's "Down At The Bad Man's Hall" (1941). The most famous related song, however, is the Willie Dixon penned "Wang Dang Doodle" (1960) which draws its inspiration from the Sara Martin number. Another razor song is "A To Z Blues" which has the protagonist literally carving the entire alphabet in the victim's body. The song was recorded by Butterbeans & Susie, Josie Miles, Blind Willie McTell and Charley Jordan under the title "Cutting My ABCs."
Ice picks are not something that immediately comes to mind as a weapon (does anybody gets ice delivered to their home anymore?) but they crop up in several songs: Whistlin' Alex Moore "Ice Pick Blues", Walter 'Cowboy' Washington "Ice Pick Mama" ("Every time I meet Roberta she's got an ice pick in her hand/And all frowned up, an wanna kill some poor, poor man"), Will Shade "She Stabbed Me With An Ice Pick" and Black Boy Shine "Ice Pick And Pistol Woman Blues."
Domestic violence is a common theme in many early blues. That being said, there were no shortage of woman who sang songs that turned the tables on the men. Among those featured today are Mary Johnson's "Death Cell Blues" ("I killed my man last year, lord, the man I really love/He did not treat me right, now he's with the good lord above"), Victoria Spivey's "Blood Thirsty Blues" and Bessie Smith's "Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair":
Judge you wanna hear my plea
Before you open up your court
But I don't want no sympathy
'Cause I'm done, cut my good man's throat
Spivey had several lurid titles including “Blood Thirsty Blues”, “Murder in the First Degree” and “Blood Hound Blues.” Okeh Records ran a a striking newspaper advertisement for "Bloodthirsty Blues." The ad is laid out like an authentic news report with graphic illustration and eye-catching titles such as “I Have Killed my Man”, “Never Seen So Much Blood” and “Bloodthirsty Woman Confesses!” The lyrics are equally sensational:
Blood, blood, blood look at all that blood
Blood, blood look at all that blood
Yes I killed my man
A lowdown good for nothing cuss
I told him blood was in my eyes
And still he wouldn’t listen to me
Bill Gaither used similar imagery in his "Bloody Eyed Woman" cut more than a decade later. Spivey didn't have the market corned on that kind of imagery as evidenced in Geeshie Wiley's "Skinny Leg Blues":
I’m gonna cut your throat babe, gonna look down in your face (2x)
Aaaaaaaaa, gonna look down in your face
I’m gonna let some lonesome graveyard be your restin’ place
Josie Miles had an apocalyptic vision in "Mad Mama Blues" from 1924:
Wanna set the world on fire
That is my one mad desire
I’m a devil in disguise
Got murder in my eyes
Now I could see blood runnin’
Through the streets (2x)
Could be everybody
Layin’ dead right at my feet
As Angela Y. Davis wrote: "The performance of the classic blues women-especially Bessie Smith-were one of the few cultural spaces in which a tradition of public discourse on male violence had been previously established. …The blues women of the 1920s…fail to respect the taboo of speaking on speaking publicly about domestic violence …Women's blues suggest emergent feminist insurgency in that they unabashedly name the problem of male violence and so usher it out of the shadows of domestic life where society had kept it hidden and beyond public or political scrutiny." Daphne Duval Harrison has noted that women's blues in the 1920s "introduced a new, different model of black women-more assertive, sexy, sexually aware, independent, realistic, complex, alive. …They saw a world that did not protect the sanctity of black womanhood, as espoused in the bourgeois ideology; only white white or middle or upper-class women were protected by it. They saw and experienced injustice as jobs they held were snatched away when white women refused to work with them or white men returned from war to reclaim them. They pointed out the pain of sexual and physical abuse and abandonment."
Other vices covered today include prostitution and gambling. The most well known prostitution song is probably "Tricks Ain't Walking No More." The song is a prostitute’s lament due to a dwindling supply of customers or "tricks." Lucille Bogan recorded this song three times during 1930 including today's version "They Ain't Walking No More." Curley Weaver, Buddy Moss, Kid Coley and Memphis Minnie, among others, recorded versions of the song. Othe songs sharing this theme include Memphis Minnie's "Down In Alley" ("Met a man, asked me did I want to pally/Yes, baby, let's go down in the alley"), Georgia White's " I'll Keep Sittin' On It (If I Can't Sell It)" and Bertha Idaho's "Down On Pennsylvania Avenue" about Baltimore’s seedy side where you "can’t tell the he’s from the she’s."
Now if you want good lovin’, and want it cheap
Just drop around about the middle of the week
When the broads is broke and can’t pay rent
Get good lovin’ boys for fifteen cents
You can get it every night on Pennsylvania Avenue
Gambling features in numerous songs with quite a few dealing with playing policy. Policy is an illegal numbers game that was hugely popular at the end of the nineteenth and in the first few decades of the twentieth century. Basically you'd pick three numbers and hope they hit. The name comes from the practice of allowing bettors to make an “insurance policy” bet on tomorrow's numbers to offset potential losses, a gambler could make a policy bet that his ticket would come up blank insuring he would get something back on a losing ticket. Eventually the entire game came to be called policy. "Numbers, numbers 'bout to drive me mad/Thinkin' about the money that I should have had" sings Blind Blake on "Playing Policy Blues."
While we don't touch on it much today, the blues has a number of "bad man" ballads about violent men and outlaws like John Henry, Railroad Bill, Frankie and Stagolee. Recorded in Parchman Farm in 1959, we hear Bama sing "Stackalee." The song about the murder of Billy Lyons by "Stag" Lee Shelton in St. Louis, Missouri at Christmas, 1895. The song was first published in 1911, and was first recorded in 1923. Long Cleve Reed and Harvey Hull recorded "Original Stack O'Lee Blues" in 1927, Furry Lewis cut "Billy Lyons And Stack O'Lee" the same year and Mississippi John Hurt recorded a version in 1928.
Sun 2 Mar 2014
|Alice moore||Black and Evil||St. Louis Women Vol. 2 1934-1941
|Ethel Waters||(What Did I Do To Be So) Black & Blue||Ethel Waters 1929-1939
|Hattie Burelson||Sadie's Servant Room Blues||Territory Singers Vol. 2 1928-30
|Big Bill Broonzy||Black, Brown, and White||Broadcasting The Blues
|Otis Spann||Moon Blues ||Sweet Giant Of The Blues
|Howlin' Wolf||Coon On The Moon||The Back Door Wolf
|Lillian Glinn||Brown Skin Blues||Lillian Glinn 1927-1929
|Barbecue Bob||Chocolate To The Bone||Chocolate To The Bone
|Andy Boy||Evil Blues||San Antonio 1937
|Robert Wilkins||Falling Down Blues||The Original Rolling Stone
|Tommy Mclennan||Bottle It Up And Go||The Complete Bluebird Recodings
|Bill & Mary Mack||Black But Sweet, Oh God!||Punch Miller & Albert Wynn 1925-1930
|Furry Lewis||B-L-A-C-K||The Fabulous Furry Lewis
|Ishman Bracey||Saturday Blues||When The Sun Goes Down
|Rosa Henderson||I Have To Paint my Face||I Have To Paint my Face
|Maggie jones||Northbound Blues||Maggie Jones Vol. 1 1923-1925
|Cow Cow Davenport||Jim Crow Blues||The Essential
|Leadbelly||Jim Crow Blues||Bourgeois Blues
|Rev. J.M. Gates||Kinky Hair Is No Disgrace||Are You Bound For Heaven Or Hell?
|Albert Hunter||You Can't Tell The Difference After Dark||Alberta Hunter Vol. 4 1927-46
|Louis Jordan||Ofay & oxford Grey|| Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five - Chapter 4
|J.B. Lenoir||Born Dead||Alabama Blues
|John Lee Hooker||Birmingham Blues||Kennedy's Blues
|Louisiana Red||Ride On Red, Ride On||The Best of Louisiana Red
|Dora Carr & Cow Cow Davenport||Black Girl Gets There Just The Same|| Cow Cow Davenport - Cow Cow Davenport: The Accompanist 1924-1929
|Butterbeans & Susie||Brown Skin Gal||Butterbeans & Susie Vol. 1 1924-1925
|Fats Hayden||Brown Skin Gal Is The Best Gal After All||Teddy Bunn 1929-1940
|Ruby Smith||Black Gal||Sammy Price
And the Blues Singers
|Juke Boy Bonner||Being Black and I'm Proud||Life Gave Me A Dirty Deal
|Champion Jack Dupree||Oh Lord What Have I Done||Oh Lord What Have I Done
Today's show is devoted to blues songs dealing with the topic of race. Blues of the segregation era are intrinsically tied to race but rarely do they deal with the topic of race itself. As the great blues scholar Paul Oliver wrote back in 1968: "Blacks in the United States are members of an underprivileged class, and it makes no difference if their standard of living is far higher than that of most people in Africa, India, or much of South America. For them, being below the poverty line in the world's richest nation means suffering. Ernest attempts to play the blues by white imitators notwithstanding, the blues is, inescapably, the music of the African American, and it seems undeniable that it is a cultural expression that relates back to circumstances of segregation. It's true that racial discrimination is seldom blatantly the theme of the blues-but it's never far away. …For the Black, whether he was purpled-hued or pink skinned, his color was his problem, both within the black community and in the community as a whole. It was this which determined that his whole social life should be different from his fellow Americans, for his color and his cast of feature were the outward indications of his ancestory." Today we play songs, both subtle and explicit, both humorous and serious, that deal with a variety of racial issues. Within black society there was a class system based on skin color – yellow, brown and black – and many songs deal with this topic. Other songs are more overt, dealing frankly about issues like Jim Crow and, particularly in the 60's, with the topic of civil rights. Other songs are more subtle, throwing in a interesting line or two, often hard to decipher without careful listening.
Alice Moore, Little Alice, as she was known, achieved a measure of success with her first record, "Black And Evil Blues" cut at her first session 1929 with three subsequent versions cut during the 1930's.
I'm black and I'm evil, and I did not make myself (2x)
If my man don't have me, he won't have nobody else
I've got to buy me a bulldog, he'll watch me while I sleep (2x)
Because I'm so black and evil, that I might make a midnight creep
I believe to my soul, the Lord has got a curse on me (2x)
Because every man I get, a no good woman steals him from me
Paul Oliver had this to say about the number: "At times the characteristics of African racial features and color have an ominous significance in the blues, which may hint that they are indirectly related to social problems. So the state of being 'blue' is associated with alienation, and is linked with an 'evil mind' or an inclination to violence. Both are coupled with the inescapable condition of being black." There's also, I think, a way of diffusing the negative "black" by owning it as Moore does, a way of empowering oneself by taking the negative associations of black and turning it around and even reveling in it. Moore's song was covered by Lil Johnson, Lightnin' Hopkins and Leroy Ervin. Another song from the same period with a similar sentiment is "(What Did I Do To Be So) Black & Blues", originally written by Fats Waller in 1929, it was a hit for Ethel Waters in 1930. Like Moore's song this one too equates blackness with being "blue"but some of the lyrics give one an uneasy feeling:
I'm white inside, it don't help my case
'Cause I can't hide, what is on my face, oh!
I'm so forlorn, life's just a thorn
My heart is torn, why was I born?
What did I do to be so black and blue?
'Cause you're black, folks think you lack
They laugh at you, and scorn you too
What did I do to be so black and blue?
The title of today's show, Sam Chatmon's "I Have To Paint My Face", is another song tied into this theme. Chatmon's song paints being black in a negative light in contrast to being white. Chatmon's song is a bit more complicated with some of the language, it seems, drawing from the period before the blues when their was a wide variety of black music including ragtime, black vaudeville, minstrels, coon songs, work songs, dance tunes and more. Older musicians (Chatmon was born in the late 1890's), born in the 1860's through the 1880's, learned early forms of black music that they brought to their records when they had the opportunity to record in the 20's and 30's.
Say God made us all
He made some at night
That's why he didn't take time
To make us all white
I'm bound to change my name
I have to paint my face
So I won't be kin
To that Ethiopian race
Say now let me tell you one thing
That a Stumptown nigger will do
He'll pull up on young cotton
And he'll kill baby chickens too
Say when God made me
Say the moon was givin' light
I'm so doggone sorry
He didn't finish me up white
Say now when God made people
He done pretty well
But when he made a jet black nigger
He made them some hell
Say God took a ball of mud
When he got ready to make man
When he went to make you partner
I believe it slipped out his hand
As mentioned above, within black society there was a class system based on skin color – yellow, brown and black – each hue having their own stereotypes. In Blues Fell This Morning, Paul Oliver had the following to say: "Blacks frequently aspired to the conditions of being white, as they saw the better jobs, the higher standard of living Whites enjoyed. Men spent large sums of money on hair-straightening greases and combs that were supposed to remove the kinks in African hair. Woman dyed their hair to a brick-red, powdered their faces and applied artificial color in order to make their skins lighter and their complexions more 'white.' …This primitive distinction by color was passed on to Blacks themselves and their population was many times divided by grades of skin pigmentation. In the caste system that evolved from this arbitrary means of discrimination, the lighter skinned tended to be on a higher plane, whilst the extremely black-skinned mas was looked down on… To differentiate between their many shades of color they evolved many words which are applicable to certain shades: 'ashy black', 'chocolate-brown', 'coffee', 'sealskin-brown', 'brightskin', 'high yaller', 'lemon', and others… Blacks of one particular skin hue kept together and may certainly have a had a preference for that color…" In her popular 1927 number, "Brown Skin Blues", Lillian Glinn stated her preference:
Now all high yellers you ought to listen to me
A yellow man's sweet, a black man's neat
A brownskin man will take you clear off your feet
Barbecue Bob's “Chocolate To The Bone” was an answer song cut in 1928:
So glad I'm brownskin, so glad I'm brownskin, chocolate to the bone (2x)
And I've got what it takes to make a monkey man leave his home
Black man is evil, yellow man's so low-down (2x)
I walk into these houses just to see these black men frown
I'm just like Miss Lillian, like Miss Lillian, I mean Miss Glinn, you see
I'm just like Miss Lillian, I mean Miss Glinn, you see
She said, 'A brownskin man is just all right with me'
In a similar vein was Fats Hayden's 1939 number "Brown Skin Gal Is The Best Gal After All" where he elaborates in detail to prove the song's title throwing quite a few disparaging comments on the other hues ("When a yellow gal gets old/She draw up like tripe"). Hayden's song is very similar to a number of earlier songs including Butterbeans & Susie's "Brown Skin Gal" from 1925 and Barbecue Bob's "Brown Skin Gal" from 1927. Bill & Mary Mack's "Black But Sweet, Oh God!" from 1925 has Bill asking for Mary's company and with the following reply: "Now listen hear man you too black and ugly, the type of man is out of my life." Then shes goes on about her "brown" who is "little an cute, chocolate to the bone." Jim Jackson recorded a song titled "Black But Sweet" which is likely the same song although it was never issued. In the 1970's Furry Lewis recorded "a little jive" he claims to have made up called "B-L-A-C-K" which bears a striking resemblance to Bill & Mary Mack's number but Furry turns it around a bit:
Some people don't like their color, but I sure do like mine
I know I'm black and ugly, but gets along just fine
I was going down the street the other day, two high browns I did meet
Said ain't old Furry black but he sure looks good to me
I'm black but I'm sweet oh God
Earlier I quoted Paul Oliver mentioning that blacks tried to change their appearance to a more white aesthetic, that too is represented in songs featured today. In Ishman Bracey's "Saturday Blues" he sings:
Now, if you want yo' woman, to look like the rest
You buy her high-brown powder, Palmer's Skin Success
Palmer's Skin Success was the trade name of a popular skin bleach which claimed o be able to make you "one shade lighter." The product was advertised in black newspapers like the Chicago Defender probably not coincidentally on the same pages that advertised blues records. Then there's Rev. J.M. Gates' "Kinky Hair is No Disgrace" which, despite the title, is more in a slapstick vaudeville vein than a black pride one. The 1960's saw a new found era in black pride with James Brown's "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud" from 1968 becoming an unofficial anthem of the Black Power movement. The same year Juke Boy Bonner cut "Being Black and I'm Proud" and Bee Houston recorded "Be Proud To Be A Black Man" in 1970. There were black pride sentiments in earlier songs like Ruby Smith on "Black Gal" from 1941. Chris Smith wrote that "it's a fascinating, uneasy mixture of self-abasement with early 'black is beautiful' ideology: "
If I had the choice of being white as a lamb
I would turn it down and stay, black as I am
'I'm just a black gal, insignificant me
But I'm just as happy as can be
I ain't seeking pity on account of being black
And if I've apologized I wanna take it back
…Furthermore, I don't believe in being what you ain't
That's why I don't lighten up with lots of chalk and paint.
Blues songs that speak directly to racial issues are relatively rare in early blues, while the 1960's saw more explicit songs dealing with the turbulent civil rights era. During the Jim Crow era, racial segregation laws were enacted between 1876 and 1965 at the state and local level that mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states. There were several songs that explicitly dealt with the topic. An early one from singer Maggie Jones, "Northbound Blues" from 1925, talks about heading away from Jim Crow:
Got my trunk and grip all packed
Goodbye, I ain't coming back
Going to leave this Jim Crow town
Lord, sweet pape, New York bound
Got my ticket in my hand
And I'm leaving dixieland
Going north child, where I can be free (2x)
Where there's no hardships, like in Tennessee
Going where they don't have Jim Crow laws (2x)
Don't have to work there, like in Arkansas
Cow Cow Davenport was another singer to make an overt statement about going North to escape Jim Crow. Accompanied by B.T. Wingfield on cornet, he recorded "Jim Crow Blues" for Paramount in 1927:
I'm tired of being Jim Crowed, gonna Leave this Jim Crow town
Doggone my black soul, I'm sweet Chicago bound
Rosa Henderson is sings about Jim Crow in "Back Woods Blues" from 1924 (Clara Smith recorded a version the same year):
Gonna see my folks, but its way too far
To ride in a dusty old Jim Crow car
Got the backwoods blues, but I don't wanna go back home
Got the backwoods blues, for a place way down in Bam
Got the blues, but I'm gonna stay right where I am
Gonna lay 'round here, where I'm at
Where there ain't no grinnin' and no snatchin' off my hat
Other songs on the subject include Josh White's "Jim Crow Train"and "Uncle Sam Says" and "Jim Crow Blues" and "Scottsboro Boys" by Leadbelly. Jim Crow also existed in the military during both world wars and through part of the Korean war. Both Leadbelly and Josh White tackle the topic in "Uncle Sam Says", the topic also crops up in gospel songs by Blind Willie Johnson ("When the War Was On") and William And Versey Smith ("Everybody Help the Boys Come Home"). In Big Bill Broonzy's famous "Black, Brown, and White" and "I Wonder When I'll Get To Be Called A Man" he address the issue:
When Uncle Sam called me, I know'ed I'd be called a real McCoy
But I got none of this, they just called me soldier boy
I wonder when,
I wonder when,
I wonder when will I get to be called a man
Do I have to wait till I get ninety-three?
When I got back from overseas, that night we had a ball
Next day I met the old boss, he said 'Boy get you some overalls'
Overt political commentary became increasingly more common by the 1960's. Several blues and gospel numbers were recorded about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. In "Birmingham Blues" John Lee Hooker forcefully sings about the Birmingham campaign which was a strategic effort by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to promote civil rights for black Americans. 1962's Louisiana Red's "Ride On Red, Ride On" is a civil rights themed blues mainly about leaving the racist south and its subject not far removed from Rosa Henderson's “Back Woods Blues” mentioned above. Few bluesman were as outspoken and eloquent as J.B. Lenoir who cut some hard hitting topical numbers shortly before his untimely death in 1967. Here's his "Born Dead" from 1966:
Lord why was I born in Mississippi, when it's so hard to get ahead (2x)
Every black child born in Mississippi
You know the poor child is born dead
During the beginning of the space race in the early 1960's many songs appeared to cash in with space themed topics. With the landing on the moon in 1969 there were many more, but many, particularly by African Americans, took on a more political tone often contrasting the money and conditions of black people with the amount of money that went into the putting a man on the moon while ignoring the dire conditions at home. This is the topic of Gil Scott-Heron's "Whitey On The Moon" and Otis Spann's "Moon Blues." Howlin' Wolf was fascinated by space flight and asked his saxophonist Eddie Shaw to write a song on the subject. "Coon On The Moon" is more about how things have changed during Wolf's lifetime than an overt political statement. 35 years before it happened the song predicted the first black president:
You know, they called us ‘coons’—said we didn’t have no sense
You gonna wake up one morning, and a coon’s gonna be the President
Several songs featured today don't fall into any particular category but lyrically fit into the topic of today's show: There's Andy Boy who sings "I got the evil blues, prejudicy on my mind" on "Evil Blues" from 1937 and Robert Wilkins who on "Fallin' Down Blues" from 1929 sings:
If you don't believe, girl, I'll treat you right
Come and walk with me down to my loving shack tonight
I'll certainly treat you just like you was white
That don't satisfy you, girl, I'll take your life
Finally there's Tommy McClennan who's "Bottle It Up And Go" is one of the songs most associated with him. According to Honeyboy Edwards, McClennan learned the song from Memphis Jug Band member Dewey Corley. McClennan insisted on playing the song as he learned it in the South, ignoring Northern sensibilities when he sang the controversial lines: "Now the nigger and the white man playin' seven-up/Nigger beat the white man was scared to pick it up." Broonzy tells a story of McClennan singing these lines at a house party and being forcibly ejected, forced to leave via the window with parts of his guitar around his neck.
Sun 19 Jan 2014
Posted by Jeff under Playlists
|Ivy Smith||Gin House Blues || Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport 1927-1930
|Clara Smith||Woman to Woman ||The Essential
|Issie Ringgold||Be On Your Merry Way||Blue Girls Vol. 2 1925-1930
|Frank Busby||Prisoner Bound||Bill Gaither Vol. 2 1936-1938
|Keghouse ||Canned Heat Blues ||Piano Blues Vol. 4 1923-1928
|Eugene Powell ||Pony Blues (Santa Fe) ||Blues At Home Vol. 3
|John Jackson||Poor Boy||The Blues Revival Vol. 1 1963-1969
|Nugrape Twins||The Road Is Rough & Rocky||Sinners & Saints 1926-1931
|Mississippi John Hurt ||Praying On The Old Camp Ground ||Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings
|Eddie Head & His Family||Down On Me||American Primitive Vol. I
|Louisiana Red ||I'm a Roaming Stranger||The Lowdown Back Porch Blues
|Howlin' Wolf ||Poor Boy||Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960
|Big Moose Walker ||Footrace to a Resting Place/Wrong Doing Woman||To Know A Man
|Samuel Brooks ||Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here Long||Field Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942
|George Boldwin||Country Girl Blues ||Mississippi Blues & Gospel 1934-1942
|Willie Ford & Lucious Curtis||High Lonesome Hill||Mississippi Blues 1940-42
|Joe Linthecome ||Humming Blues||Hokum, Blues & Rags 1929-1930's
|The Three Stripped Gears||1931 Depression Blues||The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
|Jesse Anderson||You'd Better Think Twice||Welcome To The Club
|Johnny Twist Williams||Teach Me How||Down On Broadway And Main
|Jimmy Nolen||Strollin' with Nolen ||Strollin' with Nolen
|Unknown Female Singer||Angel Child||Field Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942
|Mattie Dorsey||Stingaree Blues||Barrelhouse Women Vol. 2 1924-1928
|Frank Stokes||Nehi Mama ||Best OfSara Martin Vol. 4 1925-1928
|Blind Joe Reynolds||Nehi Mama Blues ||Blues Images Vol. 5
|Joe Turner with Albert Ammons ||Rock Of Gibraltar Blues|| Albert Ammons: Alt. Takes, Radio Perfs & Uniss. Home Recordings
|Duke Henderson||Beggin And Pleadin||Dust My Rhythm & Blues: Flair Records R&B Story
|Gene Parrish||Screamin' In My Sleep||Rhythm 'n' Blues Shouters
|Sippie Wallace ||Parlor Social De Luxe||I Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 2
|Sara Martin||Down At The Razor Ball||Sara Martin Vol. 3 1924-1925
|Blind Willie McTell||Razor Ball ||The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2: Columbia
|Washboard Sam||Down At The Bad Man's Hall||Washboard Sam Vol. 5 1940-1941
|Bill Gaither ||Wintertime Blues||Bill Gaither Vol. 4 1939
|Lightnin' Slim||Wintertime Blues||We Gotta Rock Tonight
Our first mix show of the new year finds us digging deep into the pre-war blues catalog featuring several fine artists who left us with only a few 78's, several well known artists like Clara Smith and Blind Willie McTell and some interesting field recordings. From he post-war era some excellent Chicago blues, a few blues shouters, some down-home blues and a few gospel items. We also explore the origins of a well known blues theme.
We hear from several superb blues ladies including Ivy Smith and Clara Smith. Ivy Smith hailed from Birmingham, Alabama and primarily worked with pianist Cow Cow Davenport. She was a good singer who cut close to two-dozen sides between 1927-1930. Clara Smith was a much bigger name although perennially eclipsed by Bessie Smith. In 1923 she settled in New York, appearing at cabarets and speakeasies there and that same year made her first records for Columbia Records, for whom she would continue recording through to 1932. She cut over a hundred sides often with the backing of top musicians like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Green, Joe Smith, Fletcher Henderson, Lonnie Johnson and James P. Johnson. Today we feature the lovely "Woman to Woman" from 1930 that features Smith's voice at her best with sympathetic cornet work from Ed Allen.
Then there's the lesser knowns such as Issie Ringgold who waxed one 78 in 1930 for Columbia and was the sister of Muriel, a star on Broadway, Mattie Dorsey who cut four sides for Paramount in 1927 and the unknown field recording of a woman singing "Angel Child" recorded by Alan Lomax in 1942.
Several of the of the male singers featured today are also one hit wonders: Joe Linthecome was an expressive, light voiced singer who cut one marvelous 78 ("Humming Blues b/w Pretty Mama Blues") for Gennett in 1929, Frank Busby was a sensitive singer who cut one 78 ("'Leven Light City b/w Prisoner Bound") in 1937 for Decca backed by Bill Gaither (we also spin Gaither's "Wintertime Blues" today) on guitar and Honey Hill on piano, the Three Stripped Gears were a string band possibly from Georgia, and possibly white, who cut four superb instrumentals and pianist Keghouse who waxed ten sides in 1928 for Okeh and Vocalion, only four of which were issued. Keghouse also recorded a couple of numbers backed by Lonnie Johnson and Thomas "Jaybird" Jones. Jones also made field recordings for Lewis Jones in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1941-1942 and performs "The Keghouse Blues." In the spoken introduction he talks about his friend Keghouse and how they went to Memphis to make records for Okeh and how he died shortly afterwards.
As anyone who's listened to this program knows I have a huge interest in field recordings, devoting several shows to the topic and interviewing several of the men who made the recordings. The Albatros label was active from the early 70's through the early 80's issuing reissues of pre-war recordings, folk material and most interestingly, to me anyway, is several volumes of field recordings by label owner Gianni Marcucci. Marcucci came to the States in the 70's and captured some fine field recordings in the 70's and 80's in Tennessee and Mississippi. These albums are long been out-of-print. Recently Marcucci has issued some CD's on he Mbirafon imprint including one by singer Van Hunt, Sam Chatmon and now has issued collections by Eugene Powell (Eugene Powell: Blues At Home Vol. 3) and Memphis Piano Red (Memphis Piano Red: Blues At Home Vol.4). The latter two are available only digitally via iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. We spin a superb track off the Eugene Powell collection which contains unissued numbers plus tracks from the Albatros LP Police In Mississippi. I finally tracked down some missing records from Albatros and will be doing an entire show devoted to the label shortly.
Other field recordings come from the pre-war era and were recorded by John Lomax: Samuel Brooks' "Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here Long" (1942) recorded in Edwards, Mississippi and Willie Ford and Lucious Curtis on "High Lonesome Hill." Ad David Evans writes "Lucious Curtis was making a precarious living as a musician while his partner, Willie Ford, worked at a sawmill when John A. Lomax encountered them in 1940 for their only recording session."
In our first show of he new year we traced the origins of several classic blues songs. Today we spin a quartet of related blues songs from the 20's, 30's and 40's that draw from a much earlier source. Around the term of the century there was the "bully song" or more formally "The Bully of the Town" or "Looking for the Bully." There were several songs published with 'Bully" in the title around this period. Paul Oliver noted that the song "reinforced the stereotypes of the razor-totin', watermelon-suckin', chicken-stealin' 'nigger' of that period." The core of the story is an altercation, usually with a razor, between the bully and a rival with the action usually happening at a dance or ball. Oliver has written about this both in Songsters & Saints and in a chapter titled Lookin' For That Bully in the book Nobody Knows where the Blues Come from: Lyrics and History (the entire chapter is available on Google Books). In the blues era several songs drawn on these earlier sources including Sara Martin's "Down At The Razor Ball" (1925), Blind Willie McTell's "Razor Ball" (1930) and Washboard Sam's "Down At The Bad Man's Hall" (1941). Oliver mentions all the songs but one he seems to have overlooked is Sippie Wallace's "Parlor Social De Luxe" (1925) which seems to me at least marginally related. The most famous related song, however, is the Willie Dixon penned "Wang Dang Doodle" (1960) which draws its inspiration from the Sara Martin number. As Dixon recalled "the one Wolf hated most of all was 'Wang Dang Doodle.' He hated that 'Tell Automatic Slim and Razor-Totin' Jim.' He'd say, 'man, that's too old-timey, sound like some old levee camp number.'" In 1966 Koko Taylor had a big hit with the song.
In addition to the down-home blues we also spin some Chicago and jump blues. We play the Howlin' Wolf gem "Poor Boy" (1957) a terrific updating of this old number and Big Moose Walker on "Footrace To A Resting Place" and "Wrong Doing Woman." The Walker tracks were recorded at Elmore James' last sessions for Fire in 1961 and come from the 2-LP set To Know A Man on Blue Horizon. At the time these songs were just attributed to "Bushy Head."
We spin some great blues shouters including Big Joe Turner on the magnificent "Rock Of Gibraltar" (1936) with Albert Ammons on piano, Gene Parrish's jumping, raunchy "Screamin' In My Sleep" ("she'd slip and slide and I keep moaning low") featuring Maxwell Davis and superb guitar from West Coast ace Chuck Norris. Parrish cut a dozen sides in 1950-1951 for RPM and Victor.
We also hear from Big Duke Henderson & His Orchestra on "Beggin And Pleadin"from a new 2-CD set on Ace called Dust My Rhythm & Blues: The Flair Records R&B Story. In 1945 Henderson made his debut for the Apollo label on a recommendation by Jack McVea. He was backed on the recording dates by several notable Los Angeles session musicians including McVea, Wild Bill Moore and Lucky Thompson (saxophones), Gene Phillips (guitar), Shifty Henry and Charlie Mingus (bass violin), plus Lee Young and Rabon Tarrant (drums). The recordings were not a commercial success and Henderson lost his recording contract with Apollo. In 1947 Al "Cake" Wichard recorded for Modern Records billed as the Al Wichard Sextette, and featured vocals by Henderson. Henderson subsequently recorded material for a number of labels over several years including Globe, Down Beat, Swing Time, Specialty,] Modern, Imperial and Flair. Later in the decade, Henderson renounced his past, and commenced broadcasting as Brother Henderson as a gospel DJ. After his DJ career, Henderson went on to become a preacher.Henderson died in Los Angeles in 1972.
We also slip in a few gospel numbers: Mississippi John Hurt's "Praying On The Old Camp Ground", Eddie Head and His Family's "Down On Me" which Paul Oliver notes "was notable for the fluent guitar which imparted an easy swing to the recording, and from Eddie Head's skillful harmonizing to his family's singing" and the Nugrape Twins' "The Road Is Rough & Rocky" credited in the Columbia files to "Mark and Matthew (The Nugrape Twins)." The duo recorded eight sides at sessions in 1926 and 1927 for Columbia.
Sun 27 Oct 2013
Posted by Jeff under Playlists
|Robert Pete Williams||Levee Camp Blues||Blues at Newport 1964
|Mississippi Fred McDowell ||Lord I'm Going Down South||Blues at Newport 1964
|Mississippi John Hurt ||Sliding Delta ||Blues at Newport 1964
|George Carter ||Ghost Woman Blues||Blues Images Vol. 11
|Walter Davis||Can't See Your Face ||Walter Davis Vol. 5 1939-1940
|Lonnie Johnson||Blue Ghost Blues ||Lonnie Johnson Vol. 1 1937-1940
|Buddy Guy ||This Is The End||Cobra Records Story
|Sonny Boy Williamson||Unseen Eye||The Chess Years Box
|Barrelhouse Buck McFarland||Lamp Post Blues||Piano Blues Vol. 2 1927-1956
|Charlie Spand||Good Gal ||Favorite Country Blues Guitar: Piano Duets 1929-1937
|Eddy Kelly's Washboard Band||Come On 'Round To My House, Baby||Carolina Blues 1937-1945
|Hokum Boys & Jane Lucas ||Hip Shakin' Strut ||Georgia Tom Dorsey: The Essential
|Trixie Smith ||Praying Blues||Trixie Smith Vol. 1 1922-1924
|Sister Rosetta Tharpe ||On My Way||Sister Rosetta Tharpe Vol. 7
|Sister O.M. Terrell ||I'm Going to That City||Get Right With God: Hot Gospel 1947-1953
|Louisiana Red ||Had A Date With Barbara Last Night||Midnight Rambler
|Hop Wilson||Drop Down Mama||Drop Down Mama
|Dave Bartholomew||Another Mule||Dave Bartholomew 1952-1955
|Elmore James||Quarter Past Nine||Early Recordings 1951-1956
|Earl Hooker||The Leading Brand||Blue Guitar
|Jim Brewer ||Liberty Bill||Jim Brewer
|Guitar Shorty||My Mind Never Changed||Carolina Slide Guitar
|Jimmy T-99 Nelson||Second Hand Fool||Cry Hard Luck
|Charles Brown||Everybody's Got Troubles||The Complete Aladdin Recordings
|Jimmy Witherspoon||I Done Found Out||Urban Blues Singing Legend
|Gatemouth Moore||Somebody Got To Go||Great Rhythm & Blues Oldies Vol. 7
|Blind Percy||Fourteenth Street Blues ||Blues Images Vol. 11
|Blind Joel Taggart ||Precious Lord ||Blues Images Vol. 9
It's pledge drive time at the station so I usually run mix pogram so the drive doesn't cut short our usual theme shows. Lots of interesting records on deck today including a bunch of songs from the Newport Folk Festival, a batch of fine pre-war sides, some gospel that falls on the bluesy side, some strong down-home blues, a number of fine blues belters and some hard hitting post-war electric blues.
We open the show with a trio of sides from the 1964 Newport Folk Festival from the 2-CD The Blues At Newport 1964 Complete Edition which collects two albums that originally came out on Vanguard in 1965. The Newport Folk Festival began in 1959 as a counterpart to the previously established Newport Jazz Festival. Prior to 1964 blues were not well represented at the festival. That changed by 1964 when several important blues artists who recorded in the 20's and 30's were rediscovered. Featured were the first major festival appearances by Skip James, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Pete Williams and Robert Wilkins plus Mississippi John Hurt, who performed the previous year, as well as performances Rev. Gary Davis, John Lee Hooker, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry (they performed in 1959 at the first festival ) and others.
A few weeks ago I spotlighted several numbers from he vaults of collector John Tefteller who's record collection contains some of the rarest blues 78's in existence. Every year around this time Tefteller, through his Blues Images imprint, publishes his Classic Blues Artwork Calendar with a companion CD that matches the artwork with the songs. The CD’s have also been one of the main places that newly discovered blues 78’s turn up. Today we spotlight the gorgeous "Ghost Woman Blues" a twelve string blues by George Carter. Nothing is known of him other then he cut four sides for Paramount in 1929. Bruce Bastin related that when Edward "Snap" Hill, a boyhood friend of Curley Weaver and the Hicks brothers was played a tape of one of Georg Carter's songs it prompted him to say: "He's from Atlanta" although he knew nothing about him. It turns out that there's been a recent cover of "Ghost Woman Blues" by a group called The Low Anthem. I've actually been checking them out a bit – I think I've become a fan. (shhh …don't tell the blues police!)
Int the same set as the George Carter number we spin two moody masterpiece about haunted love. First up is Lonnie's Johnson's magnificent "Blue Ghost Blues" (Johnson cut this first in 1927 but today we spin his 1938 version) beautifully sung and played by a man who still doesn't get his proper due:
I've been in this haunted house, for three long years today (2x)
Blue ghost has got my shack surrounded, oh lord and I can't get away
I feel cold arms around me, ice lips upon my cheek (2x)
My lover is dead, how plainly plain I can hear her speak
(whispered: Lonnie, sweet Lonnie)
My windows beginning rattling, my door knob is turning round and round (2x)
My lover's ghost has got me and I know my time won't be long
Walter Davis is probably more neglected than Lonnie although he was very popular among black audiences, cutting hundreds of sides between his 1930 debut and his final 1952 session. "Can't See Your Face" is a poignant number from 1939:
Your old picture has faded, mama that hangs up on the wall (2x)
It's been hanging there so long, I can't see your face at all
Even my old house seems haunted, mama and there ain't nobody around (2x)
Sometime it seems like at night, that the old house is falling down
I can hear my back door slamming, I can hear a little baby crying (2x)
All I wonder baby, have you got me on your mind
We spin two tracks today from Blind Joe Taggart. Taggart made his first records for Vocalion in June 1927 then went to Paramount in 1928. He continued recording in the 30's but vanished after a final session for Decca in 1934. A few years back an acetate Taggart made in 1948 turned up and was issued by John Tefteller on the CD hat accompanies the 2009 calendar. Taggart did cut one blues 78, "Coal River Blues b/w Fourteenth Street Blues under th psedonymn Blind Percy and His Blind Band in 1927 with the latter cut featured today and comes from the latest Tefteller CD.
|Walter Davis circa 1942
In an interview in Fretboard Journal Tefteller talked about the post-war record: "It means that Blind Joe Taggart went into a recording studio in Chicago — probably on Maxwell Street, because they had several studios there back then. For a few dollars you could pay to have a record made. You would walk into the booth where they had the microphone set up, you would sit down, you would play your song, and it would be cut directly from the microphone directly onto that acetate record. There would be not necessarily any other copies made, and if there were other copies made, they would have been made from that. But it was never commercially released; it was never put out on a record with an actual label. The songs are 'Precious Lord,' spelled 'Preshious Lord' on the label, and 'Little Black Train.' My theory is that he was going to take that dub and go around to the different record companies on Record Row in Chicago, and try to get himself a contract to record again. He could walk into Chess — I think it was called Aristocrat in the late 1940s — he could walk into Chess or Aristocrat, or one of those independent labels with this acetate, and say, 'You know, I used to make records back in the '30s for Paramount, they sold fairly well. Here’s my latest recording. You might want to consider issuing this.' And I think that’s what this is. It was discovered in a stack of lousy 1970s rock LPs. It’s miraculous it survived. It came so close to being lost forever."
We play a few other sides today with a religious bent including music from Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sister O.M. Terrell and a number by Trixie Smith. We spin Sister Rosetta's "On My Way" from 1961. Tharpe cut some fantastic records and I never tire of listening to her. There was a time when she wasn't well served on reissues but now just about everything she released is available on CD. Our selection comes from the seventh and final collection on the French Fremmeaux & Associes label that collects all of Tharpe's recordings through 1961.
Sister O.M. Terrell is far less known but her guitar style is very reminiscent of Tharpe's. Terrell taught herself to play the guitar and began writing gospel songs and singing them on Atlanta's Decatur Street. From the Depression years of the 1930's to the Eisenhower '50's, she lived the life of an itinerant evangelist and supported herself with her music. In 1953 she recorded six sides for Columbia who for some reason released them in its country music series. She was eventually tracked down to the door of a nursing home in Conyers, Georgia by musicologist Bruce Nemerov. She passed in 2006 at the age of 95.
"Praying Blues" from 1924 is one of Trixie Smith's finest numbers backed by a great band that included trombonist Charlie Green, Don Redman on clarinet and Fletcher Henderson on piano. A few weeks back I did a program called I Want Plenty Grease In My Frying Pan – Forgotten Blues Ladies Pt. 3 and someone asked me about Trixie Smith. I've never really given her much of a listen but I've been listening to her collected recordings on Document and it's a bit of a mixed bag but she has more then a few outstanding songs. I'll be spotlighting more of her on upcoming shows.
Smith was born in Atlanta and around 1915 moved north to New York to work in show business. At first she worked in minstrel shows and on the TOBA vaudeville circuit. In 1922 Smith made her first recordings for the Black Swan label and later that year she won a blues singing contest in New York beating out Lucille Hegamin and others with her song "Trixie's Blues." In 1924 Smith made her debut for Paramount, cutting twenty sides for the label through 1926. She recorded a final batch of sides in 1938 and 1939.
We feature seveal tough post-war guiarists today including Buddy Guy's smoldering "This Is The End" for Cobra. Guy released two singles in 1958 on Cobra's Artistic Records subsidiary. Other heavy hitters include Elmore James' "Quarter Past Nine", Dave Bartholomew's "Another Mule" sporting great guitar work from Pee Wee Crayton and Earl Hooker's knockout instrumental "The Leading Brand."
We have a set of superb blues singers on deck today including Gatemouth Moore, Jimmy T-99 Nelson, Jimmy Witherspoon and Charles Brown. I fist heard Moore on a great 2-LP set, The Shouters – Roots Of Rock 'N' Roll Vol. 9, and have been a fan ever since. Often labeled a blues shouter, with his perfect diction and huge, mellow, enveloping voice he was more accurately a blues crooner of the highest order. I'll let Gatemouth speak for himself: "I am one of the ultra-men blues singers. I am not accustomed and don't know nothing about that gut-belly stuff in the joints…I put on tuxedos, dressed up, sang intelligent…Without a doubt, and I'm not being facetious, I'm the best blues singer in the business with that singing voice. Now I can't wiggle and I can't dance, but telling a story, I don't think them other boys are in my class."
Moore's blues career came to a close in 1949 when he had a religious conversion on stage at Chicago's Club DeLisa. After walking off stage he eventually became a preacher, gospel disc jockey and gospel recording artist. Inexplicably in 1977 he stepped back briefly into the world of blues cutting Great Rhythm & Blues Oldies Vol. 7, an exceptional album despite it's generic title. The album was produced by Johnny Otis and issued on the Blues Spectrum label. Today's selection, "Somebody got To Go", comes from that album.
Jimmy 'T-99' Nelson is another favorite singer of mine. I became a fan of Jimmy Nelson many years ago after hearing an LP collection of his early sides on the Ace label. I always hoped he would start recording again and in 1999 he issued the terrific Rockin' And Shoutin' The Blues. I interviewed Jimmy when that record came out and it was one of the best interviews I ever did and subsequently spoke with him again in 2005.
Blessed with a booming voice and a hip delivery, Nelson cut a swath of fine sides for Modern's RPM and Kent imprints in the early 50's and 60's but only scored big with his signature "T-99 Blues." After getting dropped from Modern Nelson bounced through a number of small labels before giving up music in the 60's. From his RPM days we feature his "Second Hand Fool."