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BLUES & GOSPEL
Various Artists Collections - Post War Mississippi

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS Rhino 71130 Blues Masters, Vol 8 - Mississippi Delta Blues ● CD $11.98
18 tracks,  recommended
 This is my favorite so far in the series if only for the fact that one gets to hear Willie Brown's masterpiece Future Blues with the best sound ever! The Mississippi Delta produced some of the most exciting blues artists - some of whom took their music to the cities to contribute to the burgeoning urban blues sound. The first half of this set features the roots in the country blues of the 20s and 30s while the second half takes the music to the cities in the 40s, 50s & 60s. Besides the aforementioned Willie Brown gem it also includes Big Road Blues by Tommy Johnson, Rattlesnake Blues by Charlie Patton, On The Wall by Louise Johnson, Preachin' The Blues, Parts 1 & 2 by Son House, Catfish Blues by Robert Petway, Dark Road by Floyd Jones, Sitting On Top Of The World by Howlin' Wolf, I Believe by Elmore James, Sweet Little Angel by B.B. King and more. Compilation and notes by Robert Palmer. One minor criticism - with such a wide scope to draw on was it really necessary to include two songs each by Tommy Johnson and Elmore James. Not that these performances aren't gems but it would have been nice to have had people like Bukka White, Robert Lockwood, Eddie Taylor and others. I would also like to have seen at least one representative of the current Delta blues scene. Let's hope that there'll be a second volume! (FS)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Arhoolie 432 I Have To Paint My Face ● CD $12.98
23 tracks, 77 minutes, recommended.
Instead of just repackaging 2 old albums on one CD, Arhoolie has (wisely) decided to take the best from 2 early Arhoolie albums (F1005, F1006) and include a few unissued tracks. All the titles by Sam Chatmon (4), Jasper Love (3), R. C. Smith (4) and Wade Walton (2) were recorded by Chris Strachwitz in July 1960, while on a Mississippi field trip with Paul & Valerie Oliver - all amateur bluesman except Sam Chatmon, one-time member of The Mississippi Sheiks. Chatmon's I Have To Paint My Face and God Don't Like Ugly are rare examples of protest blues that commercial companies declined to record. The CD is rounded out by Big Joe Williams (2), the Louisiana duo Butch Cage and Willie Thomas (3), Sidney Maiden (1) and K. C. Douglas (4), including a wonderful unissued version of his most famous song, Mercury Blues. The sound quality is outstanding. (EL)
BUTCH CAGE & WILLIE THOMAS: Butch's Blues/ Fourty Four Blues/ One Thin Dime/ SAM CHATMON: God Don't Like Ugly/ Hollandale Blues/ I Have To Paint My Face/ I Stand And Wonder/ K.C. DOUGLAS: Big Road Blues/ Mercury Blues/ Night Shirt Blues/ Blues And Trouble/ Chicago Blues/ JASPER LOVE: Desert Blues/ Love's Honeydripper/ The Slop/ R.C. SMITH: Going Back To Texas/ Lonely Widower/ Lost Love Blues/ Stella Ruth/ WADE WALTON: Rooster Blues (With Unknown Rooster Crowing!) Wade/ BIG JOE WILLIAMS: Married Woman Blues/ Texas Blues

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Mardi Gras MG 1017 Mississippi Burnin' Blues ● CD $16.98

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Mardi Gras MG 1025 Mississippi Burnin' Blues, Vol 2 ● CD $16.98

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Arhoolie 385 Mississippi Delta Blues Jam In Memphis, Vol 1 ● CD $12.98
16 tracks, 65 mins, highly recommended.
The first of two volumes featuring recordings made by Chris Strachwitz in Memphis, 1969 during the weekend of the short-lived Memphis Blues Festival. Many of these recordings were issued on a two LP set on the Blue Thumb label and some years ago were reissued on two Arhoolie LPs. For the CD issue, Chris has dug into the vaults and turned up recordings that were not originally issued from the same sessions. This volume includes three wonderful Fred McDowell tracks on which he is accompanied by the wonderful Mississippi harmonica player, Johnny Woods. There are also two previously unissued Fred McDowell solo performances. Furry Lewis is represented by three excellent songs (one previously unissued), two tracks by Memphis Piano Red, a wonderful barrelhouse piano player and three tracks of fife and drum music featuring Napoleon Strickland, Otha Turner and The Como Drum Band. The set is rounded out by three entertaining guitar duets featuring R.L. Watson & Josiah Jones (actually John Fahey & Mike Stewart). CD remastering is excellent, there some fine photos including a great cover photo of McDowell and Woods by Jim Marshall and a reprint of the original 1969 notes by Pete Welding. You won't go wrong with this one! (FS)
FURRY LEWIS: Furry Lewis' Blues/ Judge Bushay Blues/ Walking Blues/ FRED MCDOWELL: A Dark Cloud Rising/ Write Me A Few Of Your Lines/ Fred's Blues/ Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning/ Shake 'Em On Down/ MEMPHIS PIANO RED: Abel Street Stomp./ Mobile Blues/ NAPOLEON STRICKLAND & COMO DRUM BAND: Back Water Rising/ Shimmy She Wobble/ OTHA TURNER & DRUM BAND: Otha's Piece/ R.L. WATSON & JOSIAH JONES: Memphis Rag/ Praying On The Old Campground & Lonesome Blues/ St. Louis Blues

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Arhoolie 386 Mississippi Delta Blues Jam In Memphis, Vol 2 ● CD $12.98
11 tracks, 72 minutes, highly recommended.
Another splendid collection of Memphis recordings. It opens with 4 emotional performances by Sleepy John Estes (one previously unissued) with harmonica player Tommy Garry and second guitarist Mike Stewart including his moving tribute to JFK - President Kennedy Stayed Away Too Long. There are two tracks by the amazing Nathan Beauregard - he claimed he was over 100 years old and was certainly at least in his 90s at the time of these recordings. Although his vocals are clearly those of a very old man they carry with them an emotional intensity that is very affecting. I remember seeing him at the Memphis Blues Festival being helped on the stage by his 70+ year old son! Finally, there are are five tracks by Bukka White - the first four from 1969 are among his finest 60s performances including the amazing Sad Day Blues which not only has some of Bukka's finest slide playing and gruff vocals but has some amazing and almost surrealistic lyrics. The spoken aside at the end is a real spine chiller! Finally, from 1963, is a wonderful 26 minute folk tale by Bukka that was originally on Arhoolie 1020 and gives you an idea of Bukka's incredible creative ability. (FS)
NATHAN BEAUREGARD: 'Bout A Spoonful/ Nathan's Bumble Bee Blues/ SLEEPY JOHN ESTES: Little Laura/ Need More Blues/ President Kennedy Stayed Away Too Long/ Rats/ BUKKA WHITE: Christmas Eve Blues/ Columbus, Miss. Blues/ Mixed Water/ Sad Day Blues/ Stuttgart, Ark.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Testament 5012 The Sound Of The Delta ● CD $11.98
19 tracks, 52 min., recommended
Recorded between 1963-65 and originally issued as Testament 2209, these unvarnished and compelling performances attest to the slow rate at which change affects some residents of the Mississippi Delta. The two most recognizable names here are Fred McDowell and Big Joe Williams (who performs solo and plays guitar on several other tracks). And while their pieces are excellent (Your Close Friend/ Kokomo/ Louise/Walkin' Ground Hog and a previously unissued version of Walkin' Blues), it is the "obscure" musicians who make the album sparkle. The 70-year-old Elijah Brown is a aural time capsule, preserving some of the earliest elements of the Delta tradition. Avery Brady's cuts are also exceptional, and 2 of them (Uncle Sam's Own Ship/ Goin' Home WIth My Baby) are previously unreleased. Other artists include Ruby McCoy, Arthur Weston, Andrew Cauthen, and Big Joe's uncles, Bert and Russ Logan. (JC)

 

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