Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ook, baby, ook


Ookey Ook – The Penguins – 1955



Cleve Duncan, pictured above second from left, passed away at 78 on November 7, 2012 in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE BLUE LIGHT WAS MY BLUES

There was an article on the web the other day about a record store owner coming across a 78 of Robert Johnson’s “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” and its being valued at somewhere between $6,000 and $12,000. Record prices sure seem to have gone through the roof, and this one is by no means one of the rarest or most expensive. I was kind of underwhelmed when I first heard a dub of this record on a Folkways collection (see top picture) in the mid-sixties, probably because by that time I’d already discovered “Dust My Broom” and “Dust My Blues,” a couple of the many storming versions of Johnson’s song that Elmore James seemingly made a career of. Anyway, the article got me to thinking of favorite Robert Johnson songs. Here’s one, made famous in 1969 by the Rolling Stones and Mick Taylor’s slide guitar solo: “Love In Vain,” unadorned, wistful, without hope.



Robert Johnson • Love In Vain • 1937


Find it: King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol. II

Monday, November 26, 2012

If you want to treat me the way you do

This early, rough-and-tumble single of “My Own Fault, Darlin’” was recorded at Tuff Green’s house in Memphis, January 1952. Despite the vibes, it’s a great performance, with terrific, nasty guitar and tortured vocals, sounding a world apart from the better known remake of 1960.


My Own Fault, Darlin’ – B. B. King – 1952



Photo: B. B. King © 2012 by Brad Barrett

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I wants to go there too


I Want to Go Where Jesus Is – Duckett & Norwood – 1930

Friday, November 23, 2012

(SORRY) MY ANGEL

Robert Nighthawk’s last “commercial” session, for Chess in 1964, included an update of “Black Angel Blues,” with help from Walter Horton and an all-star rhythm section.


Robert Nighthawk • (Sorry) My Angel • 1964


Robert Nighthawk, vocal/guitar; Big Walter Horton, harmonica; Lafayette Leake, piano; Buddy Guy, guitar; 
Jack Meyers, bass; Clifton James, drums. Recorded in Chicago, 30 June 1964.

Photo: Robert Nighthawk, Memphis, 1966. “photo by Mylon Studio, 154 Beale St, Memphis 3, Tennessee, 
Oct 12, 1966.”  (BAK collection)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Had some hard days

Muddy Waters at his second commercial recording session (unissued at the time) trying on the Lester Melrose model for size. It would soon be discarded for Muddy’s own tougher and at once more modern and more archaic style, a real synthesis of the delta country blues of his mentors and the big city blues of his new home town of Chicago. Next stop: Aristocrat.


Hard Day Blues – McKinley Morganfield – 1946


Friday, November 16, 2012

Spanish Ice

Though this song’s title would later be corrected to “Spanish Eyes” on CD, I’ve always liked the sound, and accompanying mental image, of “Spanish Ice” as it was originally named on LP.


Spanish Eyes – Flaco Jiménez – 1979

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Walkin’ slowly from you darlin’


Walkin’ Slowly – Sleepy La Beff & The Versatiles – 1962

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Lord’s Prayer


The Lord’s Prayer – The Swan Silvertones – 1959



For Hyatt Earl Moore

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I asked for water


I Asked For Water (He Gave Me Gasoline) – Lucinda Williams – 2007

Monday, November 12, 2012

Al Bowlly’s in heaven


Al Bowlly’s In Heaven – Richard Thompson – 2005

Sunday, November 11, 2012

G. I. Fever


Baba-Du-Lay Fever (G. I. Fever) – Mercy Dee – 1949



Saturday, November 10, 2012

I got a letter this morning

Many years ago, when I was just a blues- and folk-discovering squirt, hearing the Bright Light Quartet’s lilting vocals on “Sweet Roseanne” (on one of the Alan Lomax-produced “Southern Journey” series LPs) was one of the signal finds of that time. The LPs, on Prestige, came out a year after the “Southern Folk Heritage Series” on Atlantic, and both labels issued music recorded during the extensive field trips Mr Lomax made throughout the southern United States in 1959 and 1960. The Bright Light Quartet were a group of menhaden fishermen from Weems on the eastern shore of Virginia and were made up, on various recordings, of Shedrick Cain, James Campbell, Arnold Fisher, Laurence Hodge, and Robert Beane. Most of the songs here originally came out on Southern Journey 5: Deep South . . . Sacred and Sinful, Southern Journey 8: The Eastern Shores,  and Southern Journey 9: Bad Man Ballads. In 1997 Rounder Records began reissuing the Lomax field trips on CD under the series title “Southern Journey” and a few more unissued Bright Lights tunes turned up on those CDs.


Sweet Roseanne / The Prayer Wheel / Straighten ’Em
Po’ Lazarus / Hey, Hey, Honey / Menhaden Chanteys
I’m Tired / Just Beyond the River / Christian Automobile
Po’ Laz’rus – Bright Light Quartet, spring 1960

Friday, November 09, 2012

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Lithuanian Lullaby


Lithuanian Lullaby – Veronika Povilioniene – 1989

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sunday, November 04, 2012

YOU CAN’T DO ME, BABY


Fred McDowell & His Blues Boys


Fred McDowell, vocal/guitar; Mike Russo, guitar; John Kahn, bass; Bob Jones, drums. Berkeley, August 1969

Photo: Fred McDowell, Aug 1969 © 2012 by Brad Barrett

Saturday, November 03, 2012

SMYRNEIKOS BLUES AGAIN

Here’s a later version of Marika Papagika’s recording of “Smyrneikos Balos.” Her 1922 recording can be heard here.


Marika Papagika • Zmirneïkos Balos (No Hope For You) • 1928


Friday, November 02, 2012

Five Spot


Five Spot – Otis Spann – 1954



For Armen

Otis Spann, piano; B. B. King, Jody Williams, guitars; Willie Dixon, bass; Earl Phillips, drums. Recorded in Chicago, 
25 October 1954.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

LORDY, MERCY LORD


Fred McDowell, Miles Pratcher, Fannie Davis


Fred McDowell, vocal/guitar; Fannie Davis, comb; Miles Pratcher, guitar. Como, Mississippi, 21 September 1959