Blues & Gospel - New Releases: Bells Of Joy  -> Louis Jordan + Books, Discography, Calendar

New Releases: March -> December 2011
Blues & Gospel
Bells Of Joy  ->
Louis Jordan + Books, Discography, Calendar

 

   
 

DISCOGRAPHY

 
THE BLUES DISCOGRAPHY 1971-2000 The Later Years by Robert Ford & Bob McGrath ● BOOK $110.00
Paper, 560 pages, essential
Fabulous, important and endlessly fascinating new publication from the publishers of "The Blues Discography, 1943-1970" ($100), "The Gospel Discography, 1943-1970" ($110) and "The Soul Discography, Vol. 1" ($110). Extending the scope of the previous Blues Records discography this book is the first ever attept to document recordings made between 1971 and 200 of country blues, down home blues, city blues, soul blues and more. In order to keep the book manageable the book is essentially confined to African-American performers with white groups included that feature African-American lead performers. Artists are listed alphabetically with session information listed chronologically including titles recorded, location, session personnel (where known) and original issue on 45, LP, cassette, CD and even some titles only available as digital downloads. The scope of the publication is broad including performers whose career dates back to the 20s and 30s (Sleepy John Estes, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Roosevelt Sykes, Henry Townsend, etc.), blues legends of the 40s and 50s who were still going strong (Muddy Waters, Champion Jack Dupree, Lowell Fulson, Albert King, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Sunnyland Slim, etc.), artists whose careers started in the 50s and 60s but who became stars in the 70s and on (Carey Bell, James Booker, Clifton Chenier, Buddy Guy, Louisiana Red, Hound Dog Taylor, Phillip Walker, R.L. Burnside, etc.), important new artists that emerged in the 70s, 80s and 90s (Johnnie Bassett, Billy Branch, John Cephas & Phil Wiggins, Robert Cray, Jimmy Johnson, Keb Mo, Sonny Rhodes, Son Seals, Chris Thomas, Joe Louis Walker, etc.), artists who blend soul and blues into what is known as "soul blues" (Theodis Ealy, Z.Z. Hill, McKinley Mitchell, Artie "Blues Boy" White, etc.), great new country blues artists discovered by diligent field researchers (Marvin & Turner Foddrell, Willie Guy Rainey, Big Boy Henry, Frank Hovington, Henry Johnson, William Robertson, etc) and obscure performers who recorded one or two singles or LPs and then returned to obscurity (Stanley Banks, Sylvester Boyd, Rufus Foreman, Jim Gamble, B.J. King, Eddie Ray, etc.). All these and many, many more are documented in great depth. Since, in this period, the industry was dominated by LPs and CDs there is a 45 page appendix that cross references all of the albums referred to in the main text organized by record label. The book is nicely laid out in a two column format on 8.5 x 11" pages and will be an indispensable addition to the bookshelf of any blues lover, collector or researcher. (FS)
To expedite shipping the book will be shipped directly from the publisher in Canada.
Rates are as follows
In Canada : $12.00, 2-3 days - $20.00
To U.S.A. : 10 days - $22.00, 3-4 days - $31.00
Rest Of The World : Surface (4 to 8 weeks) - $22.00, Airmail (5-10 days) - $51.50

 

BOOKS


SOUL OF THE MAN Bobby "Blue" Bland by Charles Farley ● BOOK $34.95
Hardback, 320 pages. Counts as five CDs for shipping
Bobby "Blue" Bland's silky smooth vocal style and captivating live performances helped propel the blues out of Delta juke joints and into urban clubs and upscale theaters. Until now, his story has never been told in a book-length biography. "Soul Of The Man" relates how Bland, along with longtime friend B.B. King, and other members of the loosely knit group who called themselves the Beale Streeters, forged a new electrified blues style in Memphis in the early 1950's. Combining elements of Delta blues, southern gospel, big-band jazz, and country music, Bland and the Beale Streeters were at the heart of a revolution. This book traces Bland's life and career, from his earliest work through his first big hit in 1957, Farther Up the Road. It tells the story of how Bland scored hit after hit, placing more than sixty songs on the R&B charts throughout the 60's, 70's and 80's. Although many of his hits crossed over to the pop charts, Bland isn't widely known outside the African-American community. Nonetheless, many of his recordings are standards and he has scores of hit albums under his belt. This book also contains a select discography of the most significant recordings made by Bland as well as a list of all his major awards. But most of all, this book gives a great artist his due.

 
MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT His Life, His Times, His Music by Philip R. Ratcliffe ● BOOK $34.95
Hardbound, 308 pages, counts as six CDs for shipping
When Mississippi John Hurt was "rediscovered" by blues revivalists in 1963, his musicianship and recordings transformed popular notions of prewar country blues. At the age of 71, his intricate and lively style made him the most sought-after musician among the many talents the revival brought to light. In this book, biographer Philip Ratcliffe provides Hurt's life for the first time. Hurt's roots are traced to the moment when his mother and father were freed from slavery, along with anecdotes from his childhood and teenage years including the moment when his mother purchased his first guitar when he was nine years old. Ratcliffe's research includes interviews with neighbors, friends, wives, and his extended family. He has even unearth treasures like Hurt's first marriage record in 1916, images of his first autographed LP, and excerpts from personal letters written in his own hand. From detailing Hurt's musical influences and the origins of his style and repertoire to featuring for the first time some of the last photographs taken, Ratcliffe does an exemplary job of documenting the life and music of a legendary bluesman.

 
R. CRUMB The Complete Record Cover Collection ● BOOK $27.95
Harback, 96 pages, counts as seven CDs for shipping, essential
Great collection featuring artwork from the distinctive and idiosyncratic hand of Robert Crumb. Not only album covers this includes illustrations related to those covers as well as posters, cartoons and other music related material. It includes all his most famous album covers including his first from 1968 for Big Brother & The Holding Company's "Cheap Thrills," all those famous covers for blues & jazz reissue label Yazoo and it's subsidiary Blue Goose in the 1970s as well as lesser known work for Barrelhouse, Echo, his own Yolo label, Arhoolie and others. Even less well known are the many covers he did in Europe (he moved to France in 1993) including ones for the French group he played in Les Primitifs du Future. In addition there are numerous drawings of legendary musicians from the 20s, 30s and 40s, reproductions of a set of cards of French accordion players, a cartoon booklet he designed for a French Charlie Patton CD, record labels and more. The book is 10"x10" so one can see many of the covers in their full glory. If you're a fan Crumb's artwork this is absolutely indispensible and if not you'll get a kick out of seeing how Crumb's fractured view of the Universe informs his visual interpretations of music! (FS)

 
PREACHIN THE BLUES The Life & Times Of Son House by Daniel Beaumont ● BOOK $24.95
Hardbound, 206 pages, counts as four CDs for shipping
In this first full-length biography of Son House, author Daniel Beaumont traces a life and career that were marked not only by musical greatness but also by violence, alcoholism, two marriages, two decades of obscurity, and, finally, a surprising comeback that brought his music to a new generation. Within Beaumont's narrative, we follow House's journey from rural pulpits and labor farms to juke joints; from jail to recording with Charley Patton, classic songs like "Preachin' the Blues" and "My Black Mama" to recording for Alan Lomax in 1941-42, and, following his retirement from playing in 1943, his rediscovery in the mid-60s. Brimming with insights into the social forces and private demons that drove Son House, Preachin' the Blues provides an original and penetrating analysis of the "folk revival" that led to House's rediscovery. In addition, this book offers a fresh perspective on how the blues influenced American culture and spread throughout the world.

 
ALAN LOMAX The Man Who Recorded The World - A Biography by John Szwed ● BOOK $29.95
Hardback, 438 pages, counts as seven CDs for shipping Musicologist, archivist, anthropologist, political activist, talent scout, filmmaker, concert and recording producer, television host - Alan Lomax was one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century. No part of this staggering body of work, however, has proven to be as influential or as long-lasting as his dissemination of folk music to a mass audience. When his father - John Lomax, who documented rural music for years - set out on a recording trip for the Library of Congress in 1933, Alan joined him and later began his own ambitious series of field recordings. By the late 1930's, he brought his discoveries - Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Burl Ives among them - to radio. After the war, he began producing concerts and ballad operas that daringly featured both black and white singers in an effort to establish the richness of folk song as the foundation for a new pop culture. "Alan Lomax," from the acclaimed biographer of "Miles Davis," John Szwed, is the first in depth biography of a man who was as influential as he was controversial: trailed for years by the FBI, criticized for his folk-song-collecting practices, denounced by some as a purist and by others as a popularizer, and finally, as his theories about the structure and function of music became more ambitious, damned for abandoning the simple pleasures of song and dance. The story is populated with an incredible cast of characters -- Eleanor Roosevelt, Jelly Roll Morton, Nicholas Ray, Zora Neale Hurston, Lead Belly, Carl Sandburg, Robert Johnson, Margaret Mead, Muddy Waters, and Bob Dylan along with many others - and uses Lomax's life as a lens with which to view the development of the American cultural landscape in the 20th Century.

 
I FEEL SO GOOD The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy by Bob Riesman ● BOOK $27.50
Hardbound, 324 pages, counts as six CDs for shipping Last year's Big Bill Broonzy biography "Blue Smoke" by Roger House was primarily concerned with Big Bill's performing career and included an extensive discography which makes a perfect complement to this in depth biography of Big Bill's life. Broonzy was probably the most popular bluesman in Chicago in the 1930s and later became a figurehead in the folk music revival but the details of his life were unclear and full of myth - much of the latter created by Bill himself. In this book Riesman separates fact from fiction. Thanks to meticulous research, interviews and recently discovered documents he has been able to provide a compelling and accurate narrative of the life of this great and important artist.

 
SACRED STEEL Inside An African American Steel Guitar Tradition by Robert L. Stone ● BOOK $24.95
Paper, 280 pages, counts as five CDs for shipping
Most often identified with country and western bands, steel guitar is almost unheard of in African American churches-except for the House of God and the Church of the Living God, where it has been part of worship since the 1930's. "Sacred Steel" traces the tradition through four generations of musicians and in some two hundred churches extending across the country from Florida to California, Michigan to Alabama. Folklorist and musician Robert L. Stone-a rare outsider who has gained the trust of members and musicians inside the church-uses nearly two decades of research, interviews, and fieldwork to tell the story of a vibrant musical tradition that straddles sacred and secular contexts. Presenting detailed portraits of musical pioneers such as brothers Troman and Willie Eason and contemporary masters such as Chuck Campbell, Glenn Lee, and Robert Randolph, Stone expertly outlines the fundamental tensions between sacred steel musicians and church hierarchy. As a companion to his video documentary of the same name and the sacred steel albums Stone has compiled for Arhoolie Records, Sacred Steel must be considered the definitive word on this fascinating subject.

 

CALENDAR

 
CLASSIC BLUES ARTWORK FROM THE 1920S Blues Images 212 2012 Calendar ● CALENDAR $17.98
Essential.
It's that time of the year again when renowned collector John Tefteller delves into his phenomenal collection of blues graphics and rare 78s to present another sensational calendar and CD. This calendar (the ninth of 15) features reproductions of original artwork for advertisements printed in African-American newspapers in the late 20s and early 30s, mostly by the Paramount Record Company advertising their latest blues releases. This calendar features fullsize ads for records by artists like Charley Patton, Blind Blake, Ida Cox, Furry Lewis, Charley Spand and others. The calendar also includes small reproductions of another 20 ads, sample song lyrics, brief biographies and birth and death dates for many blues artists. The calendar itself would be easily worth $17.98 but in addition you get a 18 track CD featuring all the records advertised in the full sized ads plus seven superb and incredibly rare bonus cuts from Blind Joe Taggart, Jenny Pope and Lane Hardin. The Taggart tracks are from a previously unknown acetate recorded in 1948 and he sounds as good as he did in the 1930s! One of the Hardin tracks is from the only known copy in existence and has never been reissued before in any form (the flip is by another artist) and is fantastic country blues. All tracks are newly remastered from the best or only surviving copies and have never sounded better. Also included are full color inserts to enable you to make your own Classic Blues Artwork CD with a jewel case (jewel case not included)  Calendar/ CD set counts as four CDs for shipping purposes. (FS)

 

COMPACT DISCS

 
THE BELLS OF JOY Dialtone 012 The Original Bells Of Joy With Friends ● CD $13.98
12 tracks, recommended
The second Dialtone album from the legendary Texas gospel group The Bells Of Jay. After being inactive for many years the group was re-formed in the late 90s by original founder Rev. A.C. Littlefield along with original member A.D. Watson and recorded an excellent album for Dialtone (now unavailable). After Littlefield died in 1999 the group continied performing and this second album is another fine collection featuring a selection of traditional and original songs with the leads handled by Watson and Rev. Glasco. Several guest artists appear on some tracks - Joe Ely and Bobby Rush do a fine job but I'm not sure that Willie Nelson's style jells with that of the group though the sincerity is obviously there. (FS)

 
LUCILLE BOGAN (BESSIE JACKSON) Blues Documents BDCD 6037 Complete Chronological Recordings, Vol. 2 (1930-33) ● CD $15.98
22 tracks, 65 min., essential
Available again. Volume 1 showed an artist developing from an average vaudeville performer into one of the most soulful and expressive of blues vocalists. This volume features the fully developed singer with a powerful expressive vocal and a repertoire of mostly original and very powerful songs - dealing in a graphic way with subjects like sex, prostitution, drinking and violence. The first 8 tracks were recorded in 1930 with Charles Avery on piano and includes the first recordings of three songs that were to become blues standards Tricks Ain't Walking No More/ Sloppy Drunk Blues and Black Angel Blues (later to become reworked as Sweet Black Angel). During the depression, when there was very little recording, some of Lucille's recordings were reissued as by Bessie Jackson and when she returned to the studio she had adopted the name of Bessie Jackson which was to be used on all her future recordings. She was also joined by the incredible piano player Walter Roland who was to appear on all the rest of her recordings. Roland, from Alabama, was a superb singer and a truly sublime piano player whose playing perfectly accentuated the mournful vocals of Lucille - the empathy between the two is a joy to hear. Some magnificent performances emerged including Red Cross Man/ Forty-Two Hundred Blues/ House Top Blues/ Groceries On The Shelf/ Roll And Rattler/ Mean Tiwster/ New Muscle Shoals Blues and more. A few tracks are from noisy 78s but generally sound is fine. When it comes to deep blues there are very few artists who go as deep as Lucille - her singing sends frequent shivers down my spine - I can't recommend this highly enough. (FS)

 
BIG BILL BROONZY Avid 1001 Four Classic Albums Plus ● CD $16.98
Two CDs, 45 tracks, 158 mins, highly recommended
Splendid collection of recordings from the great Mississippi born bluesman Big Bill Broonzy reissuing four LPs issued in the 1950s along with a batch of bonus tracks originally issued as singles. The first two has two LPs featuring recordings made in Europe in 1956. "Big Bill's Blues" was recorded in the Netherlands featuring Bill solo and "Big Bill Broonzy Sings The Blues" was recorded in Paris with tasteful drum support by Carl "Kansas" Fields. Bill performs popular songs from his wide repertoire including Bossie Woman/ Trouble In Mind/ Martha/ Goodbye Baby Blues/ Diggin' My Potatoes, etc. Bill is in fine form on both sessions and on the first one does some narration between tracks. The second disc features his two Mercury albums from 1951 "Folk Blues" and "The Blues." The former features Bill accompanied by bassist Big Crawford and while some of the songs (Bill Bailey/ Blue Tail Fly) are questionable choices most of the tracks are superb with strong singing and terrific guitar work. The second disc is drawn from a couple of sessions in 1951 - one with accompaniment by bassist Ransom Knowling and the other with a small group with saxes and drums that was probably more reflective of how he performed in the clubs in Chicago. It includes some of his best performances from this period like Walkin' The Lonesome Road/ Mopper's Blues/ Willie Mae/ Stump/ Southbound Train and others. Both discs are filled to capacity with bonus tracks from singles recorded in 1949 with a small band and includes terrific performances like I Love My Whiskey/ Water Coast/ Mindin' My Own Business, etc. The LPs on the first CD are making their first appearance on CD and while the Mercury sides have been out before I don't believe they are currently available elsewhere. A varied and superb set from a sometimes overlooked performer with superb sound, reproductions of original album notes and brief new notes from Tony Russell. (FS)

 
BIG MACEO JSP JSPCD 4320 Power Piano Player: The Complete Sides, 1941-50 ● CD $22.98
The complete recordings of one of the greatest and most influential blues and boogie piano players including several accompaniments to his regular playing partner Tampa Red and one very obscure side accompanying John Brim.

 
CLARENCE "GATEMOUTH" BROWN Sunny Side 3052 Gate's On The Heat ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 63 mins, highly recommended
This CD features two sessions - one held in 1972 with "Gate" accompanied by a French rhythm section with The Memphis Horns overdubbed later. This session was originally issued as "The Drifter Rides Again." Another session was held in 1973 with "Gate" joined by Canned Heat. The album was then re-released as "Gate's On The Heat" with two of the tracks added from the Canned Heat session. This CD adds two more tracks from the latter session for a total of 12 tracks. Gate is in great form singing and playing hot guitar, violin and harmonica on a collection of originals including The Drifter, Dollar's Got The Blues and the topical Man & His Environment and Please Mr. Nixon and some fine covers (Jelly, Jelly/ One Mint Julep/ River's Invitation, etc.) Arrangements are varied and the addition of a string section arranged by Mickey Baker on the title track is remarkably effective. (FS)

 
ROY BROWN Fantastic Voyage 123 Good Rockin' Man ● CD $19.98
2 CDs, 50 tracks, 137 mins, highly recommended
Have you heard the news? Roy Brown was Good Rockin' almost every night! He was a mighty, mighty man and here are 50 of his hottest hits and hippest flips to help spread the news. Roy Brown is known as one of the great Rhythm & Blues shouters, and there is plenty of evidence here to back that up, but he could also be mellow and smooth, like on tracks like Deep Sea Diver/ Special Lesson #1/ Ain't It A Shame, and No Love At All. If the wild-eyed shouters are what you are after though, there are plenty here Good Rockin' Tonight (of course, he wrote that classic and most of the others featured here,) Lolly Pop Mama/ Hurry, Hurry Baby/ Laughing, But Crying/ Up Jumped The Devil, and many, many more. Blues aficionado Neil Slaven personally selected these tracks as to best represent Brown and I think he did a fine job. Sure, you can always argue for certain songs that should be here in place of others -- personally, I would have like to have heard I'm Convicted Of Love on here -- but for the most part he is right on the money. He covers all of Browns' best years, but also shows us some nuggets from late in the game that others might overlook. You get the best of Roy Brown's recordings for the Gold Star, Deluxe, King, Imperial, and Home Of The Blues labels from 1947 all the way up to 1960. It all sounds great, plus you get a little bit of liner notes and recording info to boot. Despite a typo or two, the folks at Fantastic Voyage did a fantastic job on this one. (JM)
ROY BROWN: A Man With The Blues/ Adorable One/ Ain’t Gonna Do It/ Ain’t Got No Blues Today/ Ain’t It A Shame/ Ain’t No Rockin’ No More/ Bar Room Blues/ Big Town/ Black Diamond/ Boogie At Midnight/ Bootleggin’ Baby/ Cadillac Baby/ Caldonia’s Wedding Day/ Crazy Crazy Women/ Deep Sea Diver/ Fannie Brown Got Married/ Good Looking And Foxy Too/ Good Rocking Tonight/ Good Rockin’ Man/ Grandpa Stole My Baby/ Hard Luck Blues/ Hip Shakin’ Baby/ Hurry Hurry Baby/ Laughing But Crying/ Let The Four Winds Blow/ Letter From Home/ Letter To Baby/ Lolly Pop Mama/ Long About Sundown/ Long ’Bout Midnight/ Love Don’t Love Nobody/ Midnight Lover Man/ Mighty, Mighty Man/ Miss Fanny Brown/ Money Can’t Buy Love/ Mr Hound Dog’s In Town/ No Love At All/ Party Doll/ Please Don’t Go (Come Back, Baby)/ Rainy Weather Blues/ Rocking All The Time/ Rockin’ At Midnight/ Roy Brown Boogie/ Saturday Night/ Special Lesson No. 1/ Train Time Blues/ Trouble At Midnight/ Up Jumped The Devil/ Worried Life Blues/ ’Fore Day In The Morning

 
THE CARAVANS Charly SNAP 187 Going Home ● CD $13.98 $8.98
28 tracks, 76 min., highly recommended
The Caravans produced many a gospel star in their day, and this Vee-Jay aggregation, might be the strongest. The solo duties are split between the amazingly spirit-filled Shirley Caesar and Cassietta George, although leader and contralto Alberta Walker takes top honors on To Whom Shall I Turn and a few others. Josephine Howard steps up to the plate vocally on What Will Tomorrow Bring. But its really Caesar who galvanizes listeners on cuts such as No Coward Soldier, Jesus Will Save, It's Jesus In Me (sometimes listed as Jesus And Me on other releases, It Must Not Suffer Loss, One Of These Old Days, and others. The Caravans parted ways in 1965, after five Vee Jay LPs issued between 1952-65, and their music is required listening for gospel fans. Drawn primarily from two Vee Jay LPs (Seek Ye The Lord from 1962 and The Soul Of The Caravans from 1963), this compilation shares 21 tracks with the domestic Vee Jay release of 1993 (NVG2-608). The remaining 7 tracks come from 1964-65 and include three live performances. (JC)

 
ERVIN CHARLES Dialtone 003 Greyhound Blues ● CD $13.98
11 tracks, 56 mins, highly recommended
Superb collection of blues and soul featuring outstanding Texas singer/ guitarist Ervin Charles. Although Charles started his musical career in the early 50s this is his only solo album and, sadly, his last, since he passed away last year. Born in Louisiana in 1932, his family moved to Texas in the early 50s where he began his career playing in a band with Long John Hunter and subsequently tutored a young Phillip Walker in blues guitar technique. Charles is a strong voiced singer and a brilliant guitarist with a crisp, lyrical and economical approach that is a joy to listen to. Except for two greaat instrumental workouts his material is all covers but Charles gives them new life - even Everyday I have The Blues sounds fresh. Charles shares the vocal spotlight with his long time friend Richard Earl who is a splendid deep soul singer with a style influenced by Geater Davis and Bobby Bland. His version of Sweet Woman's Love with soulful guitar riffs by Charles is a gem. The small group accompanying are generally excellent though I find Paul Orta's harmonica playing a little too busy and intrusive for my liking. A very fine release. (FS)

 
RAY CHARLES Night Train 2001 The Complete Swing Time And Down Beat Recordings ● CD $17.98
Two Cds, 45 tracks, very highly recommended
Available again. This two CD set with 45 tracks is the most comprehensive collection of Ray's pre-Atlantic recordings - mostly recorded for Swing Time and Down Beat between 1948 and 1951. An attractive and detailed portrait of a major artist discovering his musical identity, moving from his early attempts to walk in the footsteps of Nat King Cole to the beginnings of genuine Ray Charles soul. Titles include Confession Blues/ Let's Have A Ball/ Don't Put All Your Dreams In One Basket/ She's On The Ball/ I'll Do Anything But Work/ All To Myself/ The Snow Is Falling/ Back Home. Newly remastered, in most cases, from original Swing Time masters. A compilation of major importance to fans of blues, R&B, and jazz alike. (DH/ FS)

 
ARTHUR "BIG BOY" CRUDUP Fantastic Voyage 133 My Left Me ● CD $19.98
Two CDs, 50 tracks, essential
Considering Arthur Crudup's importance it's surprising that he hasn't been better served in the reissue market but this superb release rectifies that omission covering his recording career from his first session in 1941 through 1954 - most of them for the Bluebird label or it's parent company RCA Victor. Crudup was a lovely singer with a distinctive high and very expressive voice. Although a somewhat limited guitarist his accompaniments are highly appropriate to the songs and on most of these recordings he is usually accompanied by string bass or drums. As a songwriter he was outstanding with interesting lyrics and infectious melodies. Songs like Death Valley Blues/ Mean Ol' Frisco/ Rock Me Mama/ Who's Been Foolin' You/ / So Glad You're Mine/ That's All Right & I'm Gonna Dig Myself A Hole (all here) have become blues standards and among others were a big influences on the young Elvis Presley. Other great songs include Standing At My Window/32-20 Blues (very different to the usual version)/ Cool Disposition/ Ethel Mae/ I Want My Lovin'/ Crudup's Vicksburg Blues/ Mean Old Santa Fe/ Goin' Back To Georgia and others. He briefly recorded for other labels in 1952 under various pseudonyms with various accompanying musicians including a session for Trumpet (as Elmer James!) with Sonny Boy Williamson and Joe Willie Wilkins. He returned to RCA for two more sessions with a small band in 1953 and 1954 before dropping out of sight until recording for Fire in 1962 and subsequently having a brief career during the blues revival in the 1960s and died in 1974. This is an exceptional selection of material from the period covered with superb sound and informative notes by Neil Slaven. Outside the Document series of his entire output (mostly out of print) this is the most extensive selection of his recordings. Every blues lover should have an Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup album in their collection and this should do nicely. (FS)

 
MAXWELL DAVIS Fantastic Voyage 130 Wailin' Daddy, The Best Of Maxwell Davis, 1945-1959 ● CD $22.98
Three CDS, 89 tracks, essential
A wonderful tribute to one of the unheralded geniuses of blues, R&B and rock 'n' roll - West Coast saxophonist/ writer/ arranger and producer Maxwell Davis whose talents in one or more of those capacities was responsible for many blues, R&B and rock 'n' roll hits. He worked for all the important West Cost record companies (Aladdin, Swing Time, Modern, Specialty, etc.) and was involved with hundreds of different performers. When Jerry Leiber was asked about Phil Spector he responded "Phil made some good records, but I know a lot of people who made better records .... Maxwell Davis must have made a hundred hits, not 12 or 17. And nobody knows who Maxwell Davis is today!" When he was at Specialty, Percy Mayfield refused to record if Maxwell wasn't present. Disc 1 is devoted to Maxwell's own recordings as saxophonist and bandleader and show him to be a superb stylist which neatly straddles the line between jazz and R&B ranging from the mellow sounds of the 40s to the more hard driving sounds of the 50s always surrounded by the top musicians on the West Coast. Maxwell was a consummate musician who didn't need to indulge in over the top histrionics popular with some of his contemporaries. The other two discs features Maxwell's work as sideman, arranger or producer featuring contributions from performers like Jo Evans, Helen Humes, Gene Phillips, Joe Turner & Pete Johnson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Lowell Fulson, Mickey Cooper, Percy Mayfield, Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers, Rock Heart Johnson, Louis Jordan & His Tympani Five, The Cocoas, Young Jessie and many more. Although the emphasis is on blues and R&B recordings there are also a few examples of Maxwell's work in the jazz (Charles Mingus Sextet, Red Callnder Sextette, etc) and pop (June Christy, Ray Anthony). A superb collection with excellent sound and informative notes from Dave Penny. The only thing lacking is detailed discographical info. (FS)
JO JO ADAMS: Hard Headed Woman Blues/ PATTI ANNE: Shtiggy Boom/ RAY ANTHONY ORCHESTRA: Blow, Man, Blow!/ CALVIN BOZE: Waiting And Drinking/ GATEMOUTH BROWN: Without Me Baby/ RED CALLENDER SEXTETTE: Chico's Boogie/ IKE CARPENTER ORCHESTRA: Pachuko Hop/ JUNE CHRISTY: Some Folks Do/ THE COCOAS: Flip Your Daddy/ MICKY COOPER: When I Had Money/ EARL CURRY: I Want Your Loving/ MAXWELL DAVIS: Belmont Special/ Blue Shuffle/ Blue Tango/ Bluesville/ Boogie Cocktails/ Bristol Drive/ Cool Diggin'/ Get Out/ Hey Boy/ Hey, Good Lookin'/ Honey Dripper/ Hot Point/ Hung Out/ I'll Always Be In Love With You/ I'm Waiting Just For You/ Little White Lies/ Lonesome Road Blues/ Look Sharp - Be Sharp (The Gillette March)/ M T Boogie/ Ooh!/ Popsicle/ Resistor/ September In The Rain/ Side Car/ Strange Sensation/ Tempo Rock/ The Glory Of Love/ The Way You Look Tonight/ Thunderbird/ Th' Adams Bop Hop/ Welcome Home Baby/ CORDELLA DE MILO: I Ain't Gonna Hush/ MARY DE PINA: Boogie Woogie Man/ FLOYD DIXON: Real Lovin' Mama/ JO EVANS: Goody Goody Baby/ LOWELL FULSON: Jimmy's Blues/ CLARENCE GARLOW: I'm Hurt/ LLOYD GLENN ALL STARS: Jumpin' With Lloyd/ FELIX GROSS: Peaceful Lovin'/ PEPPERMINT HARRIS: Let The Back Door Hit You/ MEREDITH HOWARD: Goodbye/ HELEN HUMES: He May Be Yours/ It's Better To Give Than To Receive/ Riffin' Without Helen/ YOUNG JESSIE: Mary Lou/ EDDIE JOHNSON: Mr Juice Head/ ROCK HEART JOHNSON: Rock Heart's Blues/ PETE JOHNSON SEXTETTE: Half Tight Boogie/ BETTY HALL JONES: The Same Old Boogie/ LOUIS JORDAN: Hog Wash/ B.B. KING: I'm In Love/ JOE LIGGINS: Going Back To New Orleans/ LITTLE MISS CORNSHUCKS: Cornshucks' Blues/ LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD: Kansas City/ PERCY MAYFIELD: Half Awoke/ Loose Lips/ BIG SPEED MCDANIELS: The Jumping Boogie Blues/ RUSTY MCDONALD: Dirty Pool/ OSCAR MCLOLLIE: Hot Banana/ AMOS MILBURN: Pot Luck Boogie/ CHARLES MINGUS SEXTET: Swingin' An Echo/ JIMMY NELSON: Cry Hard Luck/ GENE PHILLIPS: Big Legs/ JAKE PORTER: Jump Safari/ Opus Five–Jake's Jive/ LA MELLE PRINCE: Get High/ MABEL SCOTT: Gee/ Wailin' Daddy/ EFFIE SMITH: Effie's Boogie/ GEECHIE SMITH: T-Town Jump/ GEORGE SMITH: Cross-Eyed Suzie Lee/ JOE SWIFT: Alligator Meat/ JOE TURNER: Don't Talk Me To Death/ T-BONE WALKER: Welcome Blues/ CROWN PRINCE WATERFORD: Love Awhile/ BOB WILLIAMS: Talk To Me/ JIMMY WITHERSPOON: Call My Baby/ LEE YOUNG BAND: Seeing Double

 
JOE DOUCET Dialtone 0015 Houston's Third Ward Blues ● CD $13.98
14 tracks, 50 mins, recommended
Fine collection of down home electric blues plus some swamp pop and zydeco from Louisiana born Texas singer/ guitarist Doucet. Doucet was active in the 50s and 60s but quite music when tastes changed but re-emerged in 2005 playing as sideman on several Dialtone sessions and eventually recording this, his first solo album. He is accompanied by a solid down home band with Earl Gilliam on piano and organ and the splendid O.S. Grant on tenor sax. Doucet is a fine singer and an effective and funky guitar player and performs a mix of mostly covers (some credited to Doucet) along with a few originals. His covers are given an original twist - his version of the swamp pop classic is partly sung in French and Frankie Lee Sims' Walkin' With Frankie becomes a zydeco romp though without accordion or rubboard. Other songs include Got You On My Mind 9an original song - not the blues standard)/ Hey Leo/ Bad Luck (a fine acoustic version of Lonesome Sundown's My Home Is A Prison)/ If You Love Me Like You Say/ Bird Without A Feather (Lonesome Sundown again - this time his Lost Without Love)/ Back At The Chicken Shack and more. A most enjoyable set. (FS)

 
FOREST CITY JOE/ POLKA DOT SLIM DeltaCat 1003 M Downhome Delta Harmonica ● CD $16.98
25 tracks, highly recommended
Terrific collection of down home blues harmonica from two very different Southern bluesmen. Forest City Joe (Joe Pugh) was and Arkansas musician who very strongly influenced by John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson. He moved to Chicago in the 40s and recorded eight sides for Aristocrat in 1948 accompanied by a guitarist - only two sides were originally issued but this CD has all of them and they are all fine including a tribute to Sonny Boy. He moved back down south and was discovered by Alan Lomax who recorded him doing nine songs - almost all of them from Sonny Boy's repertoire accompanied by bass and drums and these too are excellent. Polka Dot Slim is a Louisiana bluesman who first recorded for legendary producer Jay Miller in 1956 as a vocalist. In 1959 he recorded again for Miller where he cut six sides accompanied by Guitar Gable on guitar and Clarence "Jockey" Etienne on percussion. Two of the sides were issued under the name Mr. Calhoun and the other four surfaced on Flyright LPs in the 1980s and all six are included here. They all have that delightful loping style that Miller specialized in and feature fine harp by Monroe in a style similar to another Miller artist - Lazy Lester. In 1964 he recorded two sides in New Orleans in much more aggressive style with over-amplified harp and tough back up featuring Sax Kari on all instruments. Fine sound and insert has discographical info but no notes. (FS)
FORREST CITY JOE: A Woman On Every Street/ Ash Street Boogie/ Drink On Little Girl/ Forrest City Jump/ Levee Camp Reminiscence/ Lonesome Day Blues/ Mean Mistreating Woman/ Memory Of Sonny Boy/ Red Cross Store/ Sawdust Bottom/ Shady Lane Woman/ She Don't Love Me That Way/ She Lived Her Life Too Fast/ Special Delivery Man/ Stop Breaking Down/ Train Time/ You Better Cut That Out/ POLKA DOT SLIM: Ain't Broke Ain't Hungry/ Change Your Ways/ Hello Friends, Hello Pals/ Hey Mattie/ I'm Ragged And Dirty/ It's A Thing You Gotta Face/ Sunny Side Of Love/ They Call Me Mr. Calhoun

 
EARL GILLIAM Dialtone 0011 Texas Doghouse Blues ● CD $13.98
15 tracks, highly recommended
Fine set of small group Texas blues featuring singer, piano player and organist Earl Gilliam. Born in 1930, Gilliam started performing in the 1950s and recorded a handful of singles but was pretty much inactive until the 1980s when he returned to performing accompanying guitarist Joe Hughes. Gilliam is an excellent singer and keyboard player and on this 2005 release he is joined by an fine small band with former Duke/ Peacock session man I.J. Gosey on guitar, Shedrick Cormier on tenor and others. Most of the material is Gilliam originals. A couple of tracks feature him alone with piano in a style reminiscent of the great Texas piano players of the 1930s. There are four fine jazzy instrumental jams where Earl plays organ in a more modern style. An excellent and varied selection from a talented performer. (FS)

 
HENRY GRAY Blind Pig 8013 Lucky Man ● CD $9.98
13 tracks, 36 mins, very highly recommended
What a delight to finally have this great 1990 album on CD. This was the first U.S. album by this brilliant Louisiana piano player who moved to Chicago in the 40s and illuminated so many great Chicago blues records of the 50s and early 60s (Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Billy Boy Arnold, etc.) and I believe his pianist skills were second only to Otis Spann. This album features him performing a mixture of original songs along with those from the repertoire of Fats Domino, Jimmy Rogers, Big Maceo, J. B. Lenore and others. He is accompanied by an excellent small group with Steve Freund on guitar and Willie Smith on drums. Although Henry is not a great singer he is an effective one, his piano playing skills are intact, and his playing on slow or medium tempo items like the title song, Cold Chills/ Mean Old World or Out On The Road has that lovely rolling, cascading quality that one rarely hears anymore and is simply spine chilling.(FS)

 
TRAVIS "MOONCHILD" HADDIX Benevolent Blues 9 Old Man In Love ● CD $14.98
12 tracks, 48 min., recommended
Not just another guitar-toting bluesman, Haddix writes all his own stuff, and his band sports a horn section. But what sets this album apart from the usual is its theme. That's right, it has a theme, namely old age. Who else but Haddix would write a dozen songs about the tribulations of romantic love (and its less respectable cousin) as he occupies senior citizenship? And if every song had the flair of Stop Lying About Your Age, this album would be on everyone's top ten list for 2011. But nothing else here sounds like it. If his songs are to be believed, Haddix is more adventurous romantically than musically, where he takes the road more travelled by. Still, Break A Habit With A Habit and Two Steps From A Lie and even Cix Spells Six have much to recommend them, a lot more than Cialis Before I See Alice, which is less clever than its title, a lot less. All of which is just to say that subtlety is not Haddix's strong suit, but I'll bet he can blow the roof off a blues club without too much effort. (JC)

 
SLIM HARPO Bear Family BCD 17129 Rocks ● CD $24.98
31 tracks, very highly recommended
Fantastic collection of uptempo swamp blues from the great and distinctive singer and harmonica player Slim Harpo. Although he was not a particularly influential figure on the African-American blues scene he was an immense influence on the white blues boom emerging in the 1960s and his songs inspired artists like Canned Heat, Them, The Pretty Things and The Rolling Stones. As early as 1957 Sun rockabilly giant Warren Smith covered Slim's Got Love If You Want It. This collection features 30 of his most rockin' songs - mostly drawn from his recordings for Jay Miller but also including a track from his unissued Imperial session. In addition to including such well known songs as I'm A King Bee/ Wild About You Baby/ Buzz Me Babe/ Bobby Sox Baby and Shake Your Hips, etc. it also includes some of his more obscure songs, many which did not get released until Bruce Bastin started exploring the Jay Miller archives in the 1970s including Wild About You Baby/ That Ain't Your Business/ Hey Little Lee and others including the song Cigarettes which is appearing on CD for the first time. Slim's vocals and harmonica are accompanied by great Jay Miller studio musicians like "Guitar" Gable, Clarence "Jockey" Etienne, Rudolph Richard, Lionel Torrence and others. 30 rockers and one swamp blues ballad - the classic Rainin' In My Heart. Includes 32 page booklet with detailed notes by Louisiana blues expert Jeff Hannusch along with rare photos and full discographical details.
SLIM HARPO: Baby, Scratch My Back/ Bobby-Sox Baby/ Boogie Chillun/ Buzz Me Babe/ Buzz Me Babe/ Buzzin' (instrumental)/ Cigarettes/ Don't Start Cryin' Now/ Harpo's Blues/ Hey Little Lee/ I Got Love If You Want It/ I Got Love If You Want It/ I Need Money (Keep Your Alibis)/ I'm A King Bee/ I'm A King Bee/ I'm Waiting On You Baby/ Late Last Night/ My Little Queen Bee (Got A Brand New King)/ Rainin' In My Heart/ Shake Your Hips/ Something Inside Me/ That Ain't Your Business/ That's Alright (aka You'll Be Sorry One Day)/ That's Alright Baby (aka Don't Start Cryin' Now)/ The Music's Hot/ Wild About My Baby/ Wondering And Worryin'/ Wondering And Worryin'/ Yeah Yeah Baby/ You Ain't Never Had To Cry/ You'll Be Sorry One Day

 
HOSEA HARGROVE Dialtone 0021 Tex Golden Nugget ● CD $13.98
13 tracks, recommended
Second album from 80+ year old Texas down home blues singer and guitarist. Accompanied by a small group Hargove tackles a range of material including down home country blues in the style of Lightnin' Hopkins (44 In My Hand), down home blues (Caress Me Baby/ Rock Me Baby), B.B. King style blues (Years GO Passing By), deep soul (Nine Pound Steel), funk (Boog A Loo/ Booty) and some spoken "raps" with instrumental accompaniment (Negro Down/ King Arthur). Although not exceptional, Hosea does a nice job throughout and is worth a listen. (FS)

 
JIMMY "DUCK" HOLMES Broke & Hungry 13009 Back To Bentonia - 5th Anniversary Deluxe Edition ● CD $14.98
15 tracks, 54 min., highly recommended
Re-releasing an album so soon after releasing it may seem like bad judgment, but Holmes' timeless brand of traditional Mississippi country blues deserves wider recognition, and besides, the CD had gone out of print. Add to that the four bonus tracks included here, namely Whiskey And Women/ Rambling On My Mind/ Everyday (Blues All Day Long) and Keys To The Highway, and it all begins to make sense. This must be what people mean when they talk about authentic blues. If you missed, the universe has given you another chance. (JC)

 
JOHN LEE HOOKER Not Now NOT3CD 062 Anthology ● CD $11.98
Three CDs, 60 tracks, recommended
While there is no shortage of John Lee Hooker reissues out there, the very low price on this set makes it very enticing to newcomers to this great artist. The first two discs features 40 of his sides recorded for Vee-Jay between 1956 and 1960 with John Lee on electric guitar with a small combo, often with Eddie Taylor on rhythm guitar. It includes his hits I Love You Honey and No Shoes along with other classic sides like Dimples/ Crawlin' Kingsnake/ Solid Sender, etc. The first 12 tracks of the third disc reissues his 1960 Riverside LP where he plays acoustic guitar and is accompanied by string bass and drums. It includes his fine reworking of Barrett Strong's R&B hit Money That's What I Want as I Need Some Money along with Democrat Man/ Wednesday Evenin' Blues/ That's My Story, etc. Although the cover of this set tells us that this is a "retrospective of his Vee-Jay & Riverside years" the last eight tracks are actually from sessions in the early 50s with John Lee accompanying himself on electric guitar and foot stomping from when his music was incredibly raw and uncompromising. Decent sound and pretty useless notes. (FS)

 
SON HOUSE Arcola 1008 Son House In Seattle 1968 ● CD $19.98
Two CDs, 25 tracks, highly recommended
A very nice package. Disc 1 is a previously unissued concert from 1968 by the great Mississippi Delta bluesman. Son is in good form though not as powerful as on some of his live performances and does six of his trademark songs (Death Letter Blues/ Empire State Express/ Preachin' Blues, etc.). Each song features a lengthy introduction by Son who discusses the song and philosophizes about music and life in general - unfortunately the recording level on this is a bt low so it's sometimes hard to catch what he has to stay. His whimsical introductions don't prepare one for the fierceness of his performances. The second disc features Bob West (who arranged the concert and now runs Arcola) interviews Son about some of the people he knew when he was growing and Son talks articulately and interestingly about Louise Johnson, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson and others and the interview is split up with original recordings from all the performers discussed. The 22 page booklet includes an extensive biography of Son by Bob Groom and an appreciation by his former manager Dick Waterman. (FS)

 
HOWLIN' WOLF Raven 336 Live And Cookin' At Alices's Revisited ● CD $19.98
10 tracks, 65 mins, recommended
Reissue of Chess 50015 from 1972 with two bonus cuts that were previously reissued on the 1998 Chess CD of the album (long out of print). This is an autumnal album - health problems were getting him down, but there was still plenty of menace, and even malice, in his delivery. The songs are classic (no hippie nonsense) and the band is hot - Sumlin is wilder than ever, almost out of control, while drummer Fred Below pounds away at the logic of Dave Myers' solid bass lines. Saxman Eddie Shaw, L.V. Williams on guitar and Sunnyland Slim add heft. Wolf really means business on the opening When I Laid Down (an update of 44), the ominous wails of Call Me The Wolf, Killing Floor's cousin Don't Laugh At Me and more. An emotive Big House and stodgy Mr. Airplane Man are previously unreleased bonuses. Too bad they couldn't have done more with the sound - Wolf's voice comes through a strained PA system, and is a little low in the jumbled mix. But all the elements are there, and besides the one album recorded in Europe this is the only decent live set Wolf ever recorded. (MB)

 
 
MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT Spring Fed 108 Discovery ● CD $15.98
19 tracks, 68 mins, highly recommended
What a delightful discovery - the first recordings made by the great Mississippi John Hurt the day after blues researcher Tom Hoskins knocked on his door in March, 1963 on an inspired guess that John might still be living in the town that John sang about in his OKeh recording "Avalon Blues." So began a short new career traveling around the country delighting people with his wonderful music. The day after his first appearance Hoskins returned with a tape recorder and spent an afternoon recording him and, finally, these recordings are being made available. The recordings are informal with family and friends coming in and, in some cases, joining JOhn on the vocals and, for a while, a rooster crowing very loudly! The songs are all ones that John was to return to again and again on his commercial recordings and live performances - Nobody's Business/ Stack O'Lee/ Coffee Blues/ Candy Man/ Got The Blues/ Spike Driver Blues/ Louis Collins and others but these recordings will hold a special place on the hearts of country blues lovers for their spontaneity. Here was a man who had spent most of his life as a farmer when, out of the blue, a young white man knocks on his door. At first Hurt thought he might be an FBI agent but Hoskins reassured him that he was there because he loved his music and the next day John was creating that magical music that only he was capable of. If you are not familiar with Hurt's music this is probably not the place to start since the recording quality isn't all that great and Hurt's performances are not as polished but if you love Hurt's music as I do this will send a shiver down your spine and possibly bring a tear to your eye! The recordings include a 16 minute interview with Hurt. Simply magical. (FS)

 
ELMORE JAMES Charly SNAJ 722 King Of The Slide Guitar - Complete Chief & Fire Sessio ● CD $24.98
Three CDs, 63 tracks, essential
Back in stock at a lower price. This wonderful three CD box is a repackaging of Charly CPBOX 301 and features all of Elmore's Fire/Fury recordings (including alternates) plus his great Chief sides from '57 and the Trumpet recording of Dust My Broom. Together with the Ace box and the (now deleted) Chess CD they comprise this great bluesman's entire output under his own name. The 24 page booklet accompanying the set includes a biography with photos and a discography of these sessions. If you don't already have these superb sides you owe it to yourself to get what are some of the greatest blues recordings of the late 50s and early 60s - music that sounds as fresh and vital today as it did 50 years ago. (FS)
ELMORE JAMES: (My) Bleeding Heart/ Anna Lee/ Baby, Please Set A Date/ Back In Mississippi (Conversation)/ Bobby's Rock/ Can't Stop Loving My Baby/ Coming Home/ Cry For Me Baby/ Done Somebody Wrong/ Dust My Broom/ Dust My Broom/ Dust My Broom/ Dust My Broom (I Believe My Time Ain't Long)/ Early One Morning/ Elmore Jumps One (Up Jumped Elmore)/ Elmore's Contribution To Jazz/ Everyday I Have The Blues/ Find My Kind Of Woman (Take 1)/ Find My Kinda Woman/ Fine Little Mama/ Go Back Home Again/ Got To Move/ Got To Move (She's Got To Go)/ Hand In Hand/ Hand In Hand (Take 1)/ Hand In Hand (Take 3)/ Held My Baby Last/ I Believe/ I Can't Stop Lovin' You/ I Gotta Go now/ I Have A Right To Love My Baby/ I Need You (Baby)/ I'm Worried/ It Hurts Me Too/ It Hurts Me Too/ Knocking At Your Door/ Look On Yonder Wall (Look Up On The Wall)/ Make My Dreams Come True/ Mean Mistreatin' Mama (Take 1)/ Mean Mistreatin' Mama (Take 1)/ Mean Mistreatin' Mama (Take 2)/ Mean Mistreatin' Mama (Take 3)/ My Baby's Gone/ My Kind Of Woman/ One Way Out/ Person To Person/ Pickin' The Blues (Manhattan Slide)/ Rollin' and Tumblin'/ Shake Your Moneymaker (Take 1/2)/ She Done Moved/ So Unkind/ Something Inside Me/ Standing At The Crossroads/ Strange Angels/ Strange(r) Blues (Alt. Take)/ Stranger Blues/ Sunnyland Train/ Take Me Where You Go/ Talk To Me Baby/ The Sky Is Crying/ The Twelve Year Old Boy/ Twelve Year Old Boy/ You Know You Done Me Wrong/ You Know You're Wrong

 
ROBERT JOHNSON Columbia-Legacy 85907 Complete Recordings - Centennial Collection ● CD $15.98
Two CDs, 42 tracks, essential
When Columbia first released the complete recordings of Robert Johnson (Columbia 46222 - still available) in 1990 it became the biggest selling country blues album of all time and introduced a lot of new listeners to the beauty of the country blues - not bad for an artist who had been dead for more than 50 years! It also became the biggest selling release that Roots & Rhythm ever had. Questions were raised, however, about the remastered sound quality and in 1998 Columbia reissued the package in a newly remastered form using original masters and test pressings found in the interim. Now in 2011 on the 100th anniversary of Johnson's birth (May 8th) comes the best sounding package yet. Steven Lasker has carefully transferred the music from the original masters and then turned over the results to Seth Winner who, using the latest digital technology, has removed almost every trace of extraneous surface noise without compromising the music. The result is stunning! I auditioned this set on a fairly low end audio system and the differences between this and early editions ranges from subtle to startling. This set also includes the alternate take of Traveling Riverside Blues that didn't turn up until the late 1990s and also includes a couple of very brief "test grooves" of a few seconds each with a a guitar figure from Johnson before Traveling RIverside Blues and an almost inaudible fragment of Johnson talking before Love In Vain. Although some have made an effort to downplay Johnson's importance there is little doubt that he was not only a major influence on many other blues performers but the intensity and conviction of his recordings are among the most affecting in all of blues. His voice is high and clear and while, not always completely intelligible, most of the lyrics are easy to understand. His sound is transitional between the rough early Mississippi Delta blues and the forthcoming Chicago blues bands with his insistent and compulsive rhythms and memorable melody lines. Quite a few of his songs feature slide guitar and there have been few, if any, performers whose playing was so accomplished and moving ranging from the lyrical beauty of Come On In My Kitchen to the mind-boggling pyrotechnics of Preachin' Blues. His songs draw on a variety of sources including his Mississippi predecessors, traditional singers around him and artists popular on records like Leroy Carr and Lonnie Johnson. All this is transmuted through Johnson's own dark and introspective vision. While songs like If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day/ Stones In My Passway/ Me And The Devil and most particularly Hellhound On My Trail may not be totally unique in the blues, there is no other blues artist, to my knowledge, who uses imagery of this intensity so consistently. Perhaps it is this dark intensity that strikes home so strongly to his listeners and crosses racial, cultural and language barriers. If you already have previous reissues you'll want this for the improved sound, and if not, you're in for the treat of lifetime! Includes 28 page illustrated booklet with extensive notes from Ted Gioia and Steve LaVere and insert advertising a centenary anniversary beer called - are you ready - "Hell Hound On My Ale" ! (FS)

 
LOUIS JORDAN Jasmine 151 The Rock 'n' Roll Years ● CD $15.98
Two CDs, 52 tracks, highly recommended
By the time Louis Jordan signed RCA's Vik subsidary in 1955 he was no longer the star who had hit after hit in the 1940s and early 50s but as shown on these sides recorded between 1955 and 1958 he was still an exceptional performer and I'm sure these recordings sold well to his large and loyal following. This set features all the recordings cut by Louis for RCA's X subsidiary in 1955 and 1956 including four tracks that are previously unissued. The first 12 tracks on disc one feature all his Vik/ X recordings (four originally unissued) and is a bit of a transition from his earlier Decca and Aladdin recordings featuring Jordan on a selection of hard driving big band R&B like the raucous Rock Do And Roll Call, the powerful Hard Head, Baby Let's Do It Up/ Baby You're Just Too Much, etc., novelty songs like Chicken Back and It's Been Said and the occasional pop ballad like Where Can I Go. He subsequently moved to Mercury and the rest of disc one features all his Mercury singles along with originally unissued tracks while disc two features the two Mercury LPs "Somebody Up There Digs Me" where he did new versions of some of his classic sides and "Man We're Wailin" featuring a varied selection of sides. His first couple of Mercury sessions were cut in New York with a storming back up group including Sam "The Man" Taylor on tenor, Mickey Baker on stunning guitar, Ernie Royal/ trumpet and others. These sessions were arranged by veteran Ernie Wilkins and a young Quincy Jones. The redone versions of his hits often have a more contemporary, urgent sound than the original recordings and Louis is perfectly comfortable in these settings as he is on the singles from these sessions. Several of the other sessions for Mercury are with unknown musicians and there are some good as well as some drab performances. The "Man We're Wailin'" LP comes from an August 1957 session in Los Angeles with the not always thrilling Hammond organ of Jackie Davis but featuring fine sax from Louis and guitar by Irving Ashby. A fine set of performances from a legendary performer with excellent sound and informative notes from Bob Fisher. (FS)
LOUIS JORDAN: A Day Away From You/ A Man Ain’t A Man/ A Man Ain’t A Man/ Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens/ Baby Let’s Do It Up/ Baby You’re Just Too Much/ Bananas/ Because Of You/ Beware Brother Beware/ Big Bess/ Caldonia/ Cat Scratchin/ Chicken Back/ Choo Choo Ch Boogie/ Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying/ Early In The Morning/ Ella Mae/ Fire/ Got My Mojo Working/ Hard Head/ I Cried For You/ I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire/ I Found My Peace Of Mind/ I Hadn’t Anyone ‘til You/ I Love You So/ I Never Had A Chance/ I Want To Know/ Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby/ It’s Been Said/ I’m Gonna Move To The Ourskirts Of Town/ I’ve Found My Peace Of Mind/ Knock Me A Kiss/ Let The Good Time Roll/ Morning Light/ Rock And Roll Cal/ Rock Doc/ Route 66/ Run Joe/ Salt Pork West Virginia/ Saturday Night Fish Fry/ Slo Smooth And Easy/ Sunday/ Sweet Hunk Of Junk/ Sweet Lorraine/ Texas Stew/ That’s What True Love Can Do/ The Jamf/ The Nearness Of You/ The Slop/ Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets)/ Where Can I Go/ Wish I Could Make Some Money

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