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BLUES & GOSPEL

Mercy Dee Walton -> Walter "Wolfman" Washington

MERCY DEE WALTON Arhoolie 369 Mercy's Troubles ● CD $13.98
Mercy Dee Walton has long been a favorite of mine with his wonderful rolling barrelhouse playing, warm wistful vocal style and unique songs. What makes his songs so engaging are the wonderful original lyrics full of careful observations and brilliant witticisms - much of it based on his own experiences. This 64 minute disc is a real treasure trove of great music featuring 16 sides recorded for Chris Strachwitz in 1961 - 10 of them previously on Arhoolie or Bluesville and 6 previously unissued songs or alternate. Five of the songs vocal and piano only and the rest feature various combinations of Sidney Maide/ hca, K.C. Douglas/ gtr and Otis Cherry/ dms. The songs include a remake of his most famous song (and R&B chart hit) One Room Country Shack, the long and semi autobiographical Mercy's Troubles, the jumping instrumental Mercy's Shuffle, the risqué Red Light and more. The mood is general slow and introspective but never dull. Sound is excellent and there is full discographical information and good liner notes by Chris Strachwitz. Very highly recommended! (FS)
MERCY DEE WALTON: After The Fight (*)/ Betty Jean (*)/ Call The Asylum (*)/ Eighth Wonder Of The World/ Five Card Hand/ Have You Ever Been Out In The Country/ I Been A Fool/ Lady Luck (*)/ Mercy's Shuffle (*)/ Mercy's Troubles/ On Room Country Shack/ Red Light/ Shady Lane (*)/ Sugar Daddy/ Troublesome Mind/ Walked Down So Many Turnrows

 
CLARA WARD SINGERS Vanguard 145/46 Meetin' Tonight ● CD $17.98
25 tracks, 75 min., recommended A Vanguard "twofer," offering 13 studio tracks recorded in 1961 and 12 additional live audience numbers from 1962, all featuring, of course, the great Clara Ward, possessor of one of the great gospel voices of the Twentieth Century. Program highlights include If I Had My Way, Twelve Gates to the City, We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace, Come by Here, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, I Trust in God, Traveling Shoes, I Have Heard of a Land, and I Opened My Mouth to the Lord. Sound quality, liner notes, and the frequently-seen cover photo all live up to expectations. Impassioned music with a still recognizable melody line. Praise the Lord. (DH)

 
WASHBOARD SAM Document DOCD 5171 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 1 (1935-36) ● CD $15.98
23 tracks, 72 min., recommended
This is the first disc in a projected series of seven covering the recordings of Robert Brown from 1935 to 1949. This disc focuses on the first two years of that time period when Sam, on washboard, and his half-brother (?) Big Bill Broonzy, on guitar, were still putting out a country blues sound. Among the highlights are Mama Don't Allow No.1 and 2/ Who Pumped the Wind in my Doughnut/ Don't Tear My Clothes/ Pains in My Heart and Razor Cuttin' Man. An interesting look at the beginning of an influential artist's career. Generally excellent sound quality, fine notes by Victor Pearlin, and a handsome photo of Sam on the cover. (DH)

 
WASHBOARD SAM Document DOCD 5173 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 3 (1938) ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 70 min., recommended
This volume in the current Washboard Sam series features varied accompaniment but still finds the various ensembles in a citified mood. Recorded entirely at three sessions from 1938, these tracks feature Sam with Big Bill Broonzy on guitar, as would be expected, plus Black Bob or Joshua Altheimer on piano, Arnett Nelson on clarinet, Herb Morland on trumpet, and George Barnes on electric guitar for several numbers. Highlights include Barbecue/ The Gal I Love/ Bucket's Got a Hole in It/ Save It For Me/ Jumpin' Rooster/ Gonna Kill My Baby, and Rack 'Em Back. More evidence that this is an artist of major power. Fine sound, informative notes by Victor Pearlin, and a lovely shot of Sam and his washboard on the cover. (DH)

 
WASHBOARD SAM Document DOCD 5174 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 4 (1939-40) ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 68 min., recommended
This disc features Sam's biggest hit, his signature number, Diggin' My Potatoes. And, in addition to Big Bill Broonzy's guitar, his accompanists at these 1939-40 Bluebird sessions include Buster Bennett on alto sax, Joshua Altheimer or Horace Malcolm on piano, and Ransom Knowling on bass. Other featured numbers include This Time Is My Time/ Has My Gal Been By Here?/ Somebody Changed That Lock on My Door/ Louise, and Sun Gonna Shine in My Door. With its infectious rhythms and its sax back up, this would make pretty good party music. Generally fine sound quality, solid notes, and an informal snapshot of the featured artist on the cover. (DH)

 
WASHBOARD SAM Document DOCD 5175 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 5 (1940-41) ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 68 min., recommended
Recorded between mid-1940 and early 1941, these numbers find Sam and reputed half-brother Big Bill Broonzy in the company of various other accompanists. Buster Bennett's sax is featured on nine numbers; William Mitchell plays bass, and the pianists include Joshua Altheimer, Blind John Davis, Horace Malcolm, and Simeon Henry. The changing pianists, in particular, lend a different feel to each of the four sessions included here. Featured numbers include the follow up to his major hit, logically titled Digging My Potatoes No. 2/ plus Morning Dove Blues/ Greyhound Bus/ Ain't You Comin' Out Tonight/ Every Tub Stands on its Own Bottom, and He's a Creepin' Man. Solid sound, notes, and graphics though it's an older, bespectacled Sam who graces the cover. (DH)

 
WASHBOARD SAM Document DOCD 5176 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 6 (1941-2) ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 72 min., recommended
This, the penultimate issue in the Washboard Sam retrospective, takes us from the middle of 1941 to the middle of 1942, near the time of the musician's union recording ban. The three Bluebird sessions featured here find Sam in the usual company of Bill Broonzy, plus Memphis Slim on piano and three different bass players. The lack of horn accompaniment gives these numbers a backwards-looking country blues feel. Highlights include Life Is Just a Book/ My Feet Jumped Salty/ Brown and Yellow Women Blues/ Get Down Brother and Rockin' My Blues Away. Sound quality, graphics, and notes are all well done, and the cover features a group shot of bassist William Mitchell, Big Bill, Memphis Slim, and Sam. (DH)

 
WASHBOARD SAM Document DOCD 5177 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 7 (1942-49) ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 72 min., recommended
The last volume in this series, this disc closes out Sam's days with Bluebird/RCA, from the last few tracks in his mid-1942 session, through a four and half year recording hiatus, to his three 1947 and two 1949 sessions. Accompanists here include Bill Broonzy, Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Willie Dixon, J. T. Brown, "Sax" Mallard, Bob Call, Ransom Knowling, and Eddie "Sugarman" Penigar. The return of horns to the back up group moves most of these numbers back into the city blues category. Highlights include Down South Woman Blues/ You Can't Make the Grade/ Soap and Water Blues/ No Special Rider/ Dollar Is Your Best Friend, and No. 1 Drunkard. Sam would next record for Chess in 1953. Fine notes and sound quality, with a cover photo of Sam, Big Bill, Roosevelt Sykes, and Victor talent scout Lester Melrose. (DH)

 
ALBERT WASHINGTON Ace CDCHD 727 Blues & Soul Man ● CD $18.98
25 tracks, 74 min., recommended
Those of us who have read Steve Tracey's book "Goin' To Cincinnatti : A History Of The Blues In The Queen City" will know what to expect. The late singer/songwriter/guitarist Albert Washington (1939-1998) had one of the great soul blues voices. With notes by Dr. Steve Tracy, what we have here is Washington's complete 1967-1973 sides for Fraternity and Jewel (plus 3 unissued sides). Though Lonnie Mack's guitar playing is featured on extended versions of Hold Me Baby and I'm Gonna Pour Me A Drink, for my ears, Washington's early soul tracks are more appealing, mainly because of the gospel quality in the performances. The opening 1967 track Doggin' Me Around is one of the last great soul sides of the 1960s, and alone is worth the price of admission. The flip side, A Woman Is A Funny Thing, captures the feeling and respect he had for Sam Cooke so perfectly that on my CD player, it deserves the repeat button! The other soul highlights include the 2 Jewel sides Go On And Help Yourself and Loosen These Pains And Let Me Go. (EL)

 
SISTER ERNESTINE WASHINGTON Document DOCD 5462 In Chronological Order, 1943-1948 ● CD $15.98
26 tracks, 76 mins, highly recommended
Terrific collection of gospel music featuring the expressive and very powerful vocals of Arkansas born Sister Ernestine Washington. Most of her recordings were cut for small Newark, New Jersey labels Arco, Regis & Manor and the recording quality doesn't always do justice to Sister Washington's magnificent voice. However enough of it comes through to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. The arrangements are varied and includes solo performances with piano only accompaniment, her most famous tracks recorded with Bunk Johnson's Jazz Band, tracks with vocal backup by such great groups as The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Heavenly Gospel Singers and The Southern Sons, a sermon by her husband Rev. Frederick Washington and more. Her repertoire is mostly gospel standards and includes My Record Will Be There/ Savior Don't Pass Me By/ Where Could I Go But To The Lord/ Jesuss Prayed For You And I, etc. A few cuts are from very worn 78s but the sound is mostly excellent and there are informed notes from Chris Smith. (FS)

 
SISTER ERNESTINE WASHINGTON Document 5620 Complete Recordings, Vol. 2 : 1954-c.1958 ● CD $15.98

 
TONI LYNN WASHINGTON Tone-Cool 1152 Blues At Midnight ● CD $15.98

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