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BLUES & GOSPEL
John Weston -> Robert Wilkins

JOHN WESTON
PEETIE WHEATSTRAW
BIG WHEELER
JAMES WHEELER
BUKKA WHITE
GEORGIA WHITE

JOSH WHITE
ROBERT WILKINS

 
JOHN WESTON & BLUES FORCE Evidence 26092 So Doggone Blue ● CD $12.98
13 tracks, 63 minutes, very good
A reissue of Fat Possum CD 1003, these August 1992 recordings feature 11 compositions by harmonica player John Weston, accompanied by Louisiana-born Troy Lee Broussard (guitar). As with his other CDs on Apaloosa and Midnight Creeper, his writing is first class, covering race relations (Coloration to women (Too Jealous, So Much In Love). The Broussard instrumental Squeeze Play shows off the leasons Broussard learned when he worked with Willie C. Cobbs and Earl Hooker. (EL)

 
PEETIE WHEATSTRAW Document DOCD 5242 Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol 2 ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 75 min., good
After a 2-year hiatus, Wheatstraw returned to recording in 1934 with a few refinements on his steady rolling piano rhythm formula. After 9 samey tunes, the jazz band instrumentation of Throw Me In The Alley is quite a shock, and a welcome one at that! A pair of guitar pieces Keyhole Blues/ Long Time Ago Blues add spice, and ace slide guitarist Casey Bill Weldon enlivens six more piano-guitar duets, including the superb Rising Sun and a pair of paeans to Good Whisky. Another ode to hooch, Whiskey Head Blues contains some uncommonly nimble solo piano, despite the artist's proclaimed state of inebriation. We also get the exemplary Long Lonesome Dive, two versions of C And A Train Blues, and many more. (MB)

 
PEETIE WHEATSTRAW Document DOCD 5243 Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol 3 ● CD $15.98
25 tracks, 73 min., good
As the years rolled by, Peetie Wheatstraw made clear progress as a vocalist and pianist, demonstrated by the confident whoops, boastful proclamations, and keyboard soloing on Good Hustler Blues/ Last Dime Blues. But the artist rarely strays from his comfortable mid-tempo rhythm, making the jaunty beat of Johnnie Blues a real standout. Santa Claus Blues must be one of the first, and most melancholy Christmas blues - other uncommonly sad themes distinguish Sorrow Hearted Blues/ Kidnapper's Blues. The last 7 cuts here feature Kokomo Arnold, another excellent slide guitarist who cuts it up on Low Down Rascal/ Coon Can Shorty. (MB)

 
PEETIE WHEATSTRAW Document DOCD 5244 Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol 4 ● CD $15.98
23 tracks, 70 min., recommended
The duets with slide guitarist Kokomo Arnold continue through the first 5 sides here, opening with a favored Wheatstraw theme Old Good Whiskey Blues. As usual, there is little variety in Peetie's piano style, but the imaginative lyrics and strong imagery of Country Fool Blues/ Jungle Man Blues/ Don't Take A Chance/ Block And Tackle/ Little House transcend his formula accompaniments. Arnold returns later in the chronology, issuing extroverted slide excitement on False Hearted Woman/ Beggar Man Blues. And the final two cuts show a whole new side to The Devil's Son-In-Law, as he romps handily through the jazz inflections of Peetie Wheatstraw Stomp. Like previous volumes, this one gets bogged down in repetitive tempos, but is recommended for its frequent high points. (MB)

 
PEETIE WHEATSTRAW Document DOCD 5245 Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol 5 ● CD $15.98

 
PEETIE WHEATSTRAW Document DOCD 5246 Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol 6 ● CD $15.98

 
PEETIE WHEATSTRAW Document DOCD 5247 Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol 7 ● CD $15.98

 
BIG WHEELER Delmark 661 Big Wheeler's Bone Orchard ● CD $14.98
14 tracks, 67 min., recommended
Born in '29, singer/harmonica blower Golden "Big" Wheeler used to hang out in Chicago with friend and influence Little Walter. This disc aims to recreate the sparse but effective backing Wheeler heard in the clubs of Chicago's south side, opting for 2 guitars, drums, harp, and no bass. His backing band, The Ice Cream Men, started out in '80 with Smokey Smothers and complement Wheeler's style nicely. Songs range from Jimmy Reed's Down In Virginia and Little Walter's Everybody Needs Somebody to originals (many penned by drummer Steve Cushing) with traditional blues themes and metaphors, including Hell Bound Man/ Damn Good Mojo/ You Got Me Messed Up. (JC)

 
JAMES WHEELER Delmark 743 Can't Take It ● CD $14.98

 
BUKKA WHITE Arhoolie 323 Sky Songs ● CD $12.98
All of Arhoolie 1019 plus all the songs from 1020.
BUKKA WHITE: Alabama Blues/ Bald Eagle Train/ Georgia Skin Game/ Jesus Died On The Cross To Save The World/ My Baby/ Single Man Blues/ Sugar Hill

 
BUKKA WHITE Biograph CK 34010 Big Daddy ● CD $13.98
13 tracks, 43 mins, highly recommended
Previously available as Biograph 145. The great Mississippi bluesman's last session from 1973 finds him in fine form with powerful vocals and storming guitar work on his steel bodied National, often with slide. Some of the material here was probably improvised on the spot drawing on elements from some of his older songs, blues standrds and from places that only Bukka knew. Needless to say he does a version of his theme song Aberdeen Mississippi Blues which he probably recorded a dozen times before but is always welcome. He also does a stunning version of Sic Em Dogs On Me which he first recorded for the Library Of Congress in 1939. He also does a moving version of the gospel song Cryin' Holy Unto The Lord and a version of Mama Don' Low which is loosely based on Sleepy John Estes' version of Drop Down Mama. Also includes Gibson Hills/ 1936 Trigger Toe/ Shake My hand Blues/ Hot Springs, Arkansas/ Black Crepe Blues/ Hobo Blues and more. Wonderful stuff. (FS)

 
BUKKA WHITE & OTHERS Columbia/ Blue Horizon 851 232 1968 Memphis Country Blues Festival ● CD $22.98
Two CDs, 23 tracks, highly recommended
This set combines two Blue Horizon LPs with a couple of bonus cuts. The first CD is a reissue of live recordings made at the 1968 Memphis Country Blues Fesstival featuring a stellar line up of talent including the amazing 100 plus year old Nathan Beauregard who in spite of his advanced years is powerful and compelling singer and guitarist. There are also two gorgeous sides from the infrequently recorded Rev. Robert Wilkins accompanied by his sons on bass and percussion plus tracks from the splendid Joe Callicutt, the ever dependable Bukka White and the out of tune but otherwise fine Furry Lewis. It's a real shame that no more performances were recorded by some of these rarely recorded performers. The second CD is devoted entirely to the great Mississippi bluesman Bukka White reissuing the album "Memphis Hot Shots" plus two bonus tracks that were originally issued on album of the 1969 and 1970 Memphis Country Blues Festival. This is something a little different from this great Mississippi country bluesman - Bukka with a band! Recorded the day after the blues festival he is accompanied in various groupings by guitarist Bill Barth, washboard player Jim Crosthwait and others. It works pretty well when Bukka just has the extra guitar and washboard but when the whole band is there they slow down his relentless swing. Of course the best cuts are the few where he is completely on his own! An interesting experiment that doesn't quite come off. Still this set is well worthwhile for disc one and some of disc two. (FS)

 
BUKKA WHITE Genes 9903 1963 isn't 1962 ● CD $14.98
13 tracks, 48 mins, essential
Bukka White was one of the greatest of the MIssissippi bluesmen to be rediscovered by blues enthusiasts in the 60s. His voice had deepened and become more gravelly since his classic recordings cut between 1930 and '40 but his playing on his battered old National was as good as ever often featuring searing slide riffs. He was also a remarkable blues writer singing original songs often based on personal experiences. The recordings here from live concerts in Berekely, California find Bukka in dazzling form. He does versions of his earlier commercial recordings like the moving Fixin' To Die and Aberdeen Blues - the latter with some marvelously effective rapping on the guitar. Streamline Special is a long reworking of his 1940 Special Streamline. Traditional songs like Jack O'Diamonds and Corrinna Corrinna become, to all inetnts and purposes, original Bukka White songs. The album title song is a magnificent performance with intese lyrics and some really lovely guitar work. But it's all great music from an endlessly rewarding performer. Though recorded live the sound is studio quality and the 12 page booklet has some wonderfully evocative notes by david Evans which not only discuss Bukka and his music but also what his discovery meant to young blues enthusiasts in the early 60s. Don't miss this! (FS)

 
GEORGIA WHITE Document DOCD 5301 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 : 1930-1936 ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 71 mins, highly recommended
Georgia White was one of the most popular and prolific blueswomen in the mid 30s. She was a powerful and expressive singer and an outstanding barrelhouse piano player. This set opens with her first recording from 1930 where she performs the pop song When You're Smiling, The Whole World Smiles With You accompanied by Jimmie Noone's Apex Club Orchestra. She didn't return to the studio until 1935 and from here on out it was nothing but the bleus. She performs versions of Dupree Blues/ Honeydripper Blues/ Freddie Blues/ Your Worries Ain't Like Mine/ Rattlesnakin' Daddy, etc - songs that are often associated with other artists though Georgia makes them very much her own. Her popularity can be gauged from the fact that several of her songs (Dupree Blues/ Your Worries Ain't Like Mine/ You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now) were recorded twice in a very short period of time. Her last session here from May, 1936 no longer has her own piano accompaniment - the piano role being taken by Richard M. Jones. Sound is good and there are brief notes by Colin Bray. (FS)

 
GEORGIA WHITE Document DOCD 5302 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 : 1936-1937 ● CD $15.98
23 tracks, 64 mins, recommended
The second collection features seven sessions between May, 1936 and May, 1937. Georgia is no longer accompanying herself on piano - that role being taken by the relatively pedestrian Richard M. Jones though Georgia more than compensates with her expressive voice and some great songs and guitarist Ikey Robinson provides some imaginative accompaniments. The material is varied ranging from blues to novelty to pop and includes a gorgeous version of Jones's classic Trouble In Mind which was so succesful that six months later she recorded New Trouble In Mind and Trouble In Mind Swing! Other fine songs include I Just Want Your Stingaree/ Sinking Sun Blues/ Your Hellish Ways/ You Don't Know My Mind/ Walking The Streets and others. More great stuff by the gal from Georgia. (FS)

 
GEORGIA WHITE Document DOCD 5303 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 : 1937-1939 ● CD $15.98
22 tracks, 63 mins, recommended
More excellent sides from this powerful singer including some songs featuring the exquisite guitar stylings of Lonnie Johnson and several where she returns to playing the piano. The session of October 21, 1938 is particularly outstanding with lovely barrelhouse piano on The Blues Ain't Nothin' But ...? and a wonderful trading of piano and guitar licks (Lonnie Johnson) on the intense Dead Man's Blues. She does a number of blues standards which she performs in fine style like Fare Thee Honey Fare Thee Well/ Careless Love/ Crazy Blues/ 'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do. (FS)

 
GEORGIA WHITE Document DOCD 5304 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 : 1939-1941 ● CD $15.98

 
JOSH WHITE Collectables 5602 Josh White Sings The Blues/ Sings ● CD $13.98
Two Stinson LPs on one CD.

 
JOSH WHITE Collectables 7463 Josh At Midnight/ Ballads & Blues ● CD $13.98
Two of Josh's mid 50s Elektra albums combined on one CD. Josh is at his most polished and folkiest on these sides. The first album features him with jazz bassist Al Hall and a horrible second vocalist and the latter album has Hall and jazz drummer Sonny Greer. The material is a mix of blues, spirituals, jazz songs and the occasional protest song - St. james Infirmary/ Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed/ One Meat Ball/ Number Twelve Train/ Midnight Special/ Woman Sure Is A Curious Critter/ Ball & Chain Blues/ Told My Captain, etc.

 
JOSH WHITE Document 1013 The Remaining Titles, 1941-1947 ● CD $15.98
25 tracks, 70s, recommended Although the 40s marked Josh's ascent as a night-club and cabaret act and the inclusion of white folk songs like The Riddle Song and The Lass With The Delicate Air (both featured here in several versions) into his repertoire he still made a lot of fine music and his singing and playing were still impressive. There are superb performances of blues like Evil Hearted / Prison Bound and Josh And Bill Blues. There are interesting topical and political songs like Move Into Germany/ Citizen C.I.O./ I'm The Guy and the powerful Landlord (some with Sonny & Brownie and some with Tom Glazer and cohorts) and commentaries on racism - Strange Fruit/ Jim Crow. He also accompanies white musical-comedy actress Libby Holman on two tracks including the fine Baby, Baby (a variation of C.C. Rider). Some of the genteel folk songs are still hard to listen to but there's enough good stuff here to make it worthwhile. (FS)

 
JOSH WHITE Document DOCD 5194 Complete Recorded Works, 1929-40; Vol 1 ● CD $15.98
26 tracks, 78 mins, essential. The first of three discs presenting all the recordings made between 1929 and 1940 by this brilliant performer. Although he later became known as a suave night club folk performer his early recordings are brilliant examples of East Coast country blues. His voice was always a smooth one but one with great flexibility and he spiced up his vocals with fragments of scat singing and moaning. His guitar playing was joy - varied, supple and flowing and always appropriate. Both Buddy Moss and Blind Boy Fuller acknowledge him as an influence. This disc starts with two delightful instrumentals from 1929 by the white country band The Carver Boys with Josh accompanying harmonica player Warner Carver and guitarist Bob Carver. The remaining tracks are from 1932 and '33 and with the exception of two tracks with a fine unknown piano player they are all solo. They include such performances as the menacing Little Brother (his knife - or is it?), some self advertising in The Greenville Sheik, the beautiful Blood Red River and more including half a dozen spirituals. With the exception of a couple of tracks the sound is excellent and there are informative, though all too brief, notes by Dave Moore. (FS)

 
JOSH WHITE Document DOCD 5195 Complete Recorded Works, 1929-40; Vol 2 ● CD $15.98
25 tracks, 74 mins, recommended. Another fine collection from this South Carolina blues and gospel singer featuring recordings made between November 1933 and March 1935. This is not quite as strong as the first volume - mostly due to the fact that a higher proportion of titles are from rather worn 78s and there are more covers and fewer original songs. The disc opens with 7 spirituals - mostly fairly bland with the exception of You Sinner You which is a sanctified version You Rascal You (or is it the other way round?) complete with Louis Armstrong impersonation. The rest is all blues and many of the tracks feature piano accompaniment - often by the magnificent Walter. On four tracks he is accompanied by Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell and does a very fine version of the duo's Mean Mistreater Blues. Other tracks include versions of Kokomo Arnold's Milk Cow Blues, the raunchy Sissy Man, Joe Pullum's Black Gal and others. (FS)

 
JOSH WHITE Document DOCD 5196 Complete Recorded Works, 1929-40; Vol 3 ● CD $15.98

 
JOSH WHITE Document DOCD 5405 Complete Recorded Works, 1940-1941 ● CD $15.98
23 tracks, 66 min., recommended Volume four in Document's look at the recording career of this blues/folk giant finds him surging into the national spotlight with a series of controversial socially-conscious numbers produced by John Hammond. For the first two sessions offered here, White sings with his vocal group, the Carolinians, which included his brother Bill and the stellar bass of Sam Gary. Among the numbers that they perform are Chain Gang Boun', Trouble, Told My Cap'n, Jerry, and King Jesus Knows I'm Coming. On the last two sessions, White is most often a solo performer. Numbers in the last half of the program run the gamut from traditional blues numbers like She's a Married Woman to protest songs like Jim Crow Train. It's a compelling program from start to finish. Sound quality is generally very good, and the notes by Dave Moore are solid. One I wouldn't miss. (DH)

 
JOSH WHITE Document DOCD 5571 In Chronological Order, Vol. 5, 1944 ● CD $15.98

 
JOSH WHITE Document DOCD 5572 In Chronological Order, Vol. 6, 1944-45 ● CD $15.98

 
JOSH WHITE Jasmine 3004/5 From New York To London, The Classic Recordings ● CD $17.98
Two CD set featuring 42 tracks - the first disc features 19 tracks by Josh recorded in New York between 1944 and 1947 along with two tracks from 1942 featuring him accompanying Libby Holman. Most tracks feature bass and drum accompaniments and one side features backup from Sonny & Brownie. The second disc featuring recordings made in London, England in 1950 and 1951 with varying accompaniments. 12 page booklet has notes by White biographer Elijah Wald.

 
JOSH WHITE Smithsonian Folkways 40081 Free And Equal Blues ● CD $15.98
26 tracks recorded between 1944 and 1946 by this popular and polished performer - blues, folk songs, pop songs and topical songs about civil rights and labor struggles.

 
THE DOC WILEY TRIO Ace CDCHM 899 Wild Cat Trio ● CD $13.98
18 tracks, 43 mins, highly recommended
Excellent set of 18 tracks recorded for Sensation by this obscure but fine group from Detroit led by singer/ piano player Arnold "Doc" Wiley. In view of the quality here it's surprising that only three of these tracks were originally issued on 78s. The material is a mixture of straight blues, cocktail style pop blues and romping boogies. His trio of unknown musicians includes a very fine guitarist (who also doubles on vibraphone), a tenor sax player and a bass player. Most of the tracks are Wiley originals and, interestingly, three of the covers are Leroy Carr songs and a very fine job he does on them. Sound is superb and there are extensive notes by Paul Swinton. Excellent stuff. (FS)

 
REV. ROBERT WILKINS Genes 9902 Remember Me ● CD $15.98
13 tracks, 45 mins, Essential
Stunning, beautiful and incredibly moving music from one of the masters of black country gospel. Born in Hernando, Mississippi, Wilkins setled in Memphis when he was a child and eventually became one of the finest blues singers and guitarists in the area. He was a lovely singer with an appealing almost gentle voice that was full of understated intensity. He was a stunning guitar player who played in complex finger picked style that was both lyrical and hypnotic. In the 30s he turned away from the secular life and became a preacher though he continued to sing and play - sometimes putting sacred lyrics to his blues songs. Following his discovery by blues researchers in the early 60s he was as strong a performer as ever though he surprisingly recorded little. Apart from the magnificent 1964 recordings made for Piedmont in 1964 (currently available) these 1969 and '71 recordings are the only full length album of recordings. The songs here are mostly traditional gospel songs like Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around/ Just A Closer Walk With Thee/ When The Saints Go Marching In along with a couple of original gospel songs and one long, mostly instrumental piece, Streamline 'Frisco Limited. While this is not quite as strong as his Piedmont recordings it's a wonderful set with dynamic singing and playing throughout. (FS)

 
ROBERT WILKINS Yazoo 1077 The Original Rolling Stone ● CD $15.98
In his liner notes for this CD reissue, Steve Calt suggests that this Ms. performer's strength lies in the fact that he is unlike his blues contemporaries. He is less limited in repertoire, less reliant on a stereotyped format, and less intense in his vocal delivery. I suspect that other country blues aficionados will, for the same reasons, find Wilkins somewhat bland. Among the 14 tracks here are I'll Go With Her/ Get Away Blues/ Long Train Blues/ That's No Way to Get Along/ Rollin' Stone (Parts 1 and 2). Though the age of the original 78's guarantees at least some hiss, the sound quality here is reasonably good. Most of Calt's notes are accessible to non-musicians, but there is no photo of Wilkins in this package. Oh well, it's still fine music. (DH)

 
ROBERT WILKINS & OTHERS Document DOCD 5014 Memphis Blues, 1928-1935 ● CD $15.98
A truly superb collection. 17 of the 23 tracks feature all the pre-war recordings of the magnificent Robert Wilkins. Born in Hernando, Mississippi, he settled in Memphis when he was a child. He was a lovely singer with an appealing gentle voice and a stunning guitar player who played in complex finger picked style that was both lyrical and hypnotic. His songs are all originals and interesting lyrically and includes the exquisite That's No Way To Get Along which he rewrote as the gospel song The Prodigal Son when he turned to the ministry in the late 30s. Complementing the Wilkins sides from 1928, '29, '30 & '35 are 4 by the very fine though obscure Tom Dickson and two by Alan Shaw including the magnificent Moanin' The Blues on which his wonderful churning slide guitar is seconded by the powerful rhythm of Willie Borum. Excellent sound and brief notes by Chris Smith. A must! (FS)

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