Friday, August 30, 2013

Frankie & Johnny & Albert & Stack & Billy, part 1

Here’s another occasional series—or convocation if you will . . . clearly non-definitive, poorly researched, emotionally unbalanced . . . but good fun and good records. So, ahem, we venture into the Stack-O-Lee Symposium, with a panel composed of such illustrious names as Furry Lewis, Dave Van Ronk (special citation for funniest closing stanzas), Mississippi John Hurt (UFO award for most perplexing pre-song narrative, although all the story lines converge somewhere out in Deep Space, exact location unknown. You figure out: [1] who was wearing what and how was it magical, [2] where the whole cold thing went down, [3] what the participants’ real names were, as well as the names of spouses and various friends and family, [4] etc.), and Dion! We also have Archibald’s fine and rockin’ two-part New Orleans version from 1950. And Lloyd Price’s classic will do its own battle with Dion’s fine and dandy 1962 cover.

As a bonus big time Charley Patton checks in with Part I of his “Jim Lee” two-parter. Story: The Lee Line of Mississippi riverboats were named after, if I remember correctly, the sons; there was the Jim Lee, the Bob Lee Junior, and the Stacker Lee. Now guess which infamous murdering Stetson-wearing legend took his nickname from the third-mentioned boat. Somewhere in here you have a badass white guy who has been transmogrified by folk legend into a badass black guy. . . . 

And then there’s the Frankie and Johnny mythology, about which more later.

So here, to get us started off are:

Frank Hutchison • Stackalee • 1927

David Miller • That Bad Man Stacklee • 1927

Mississippi John Hurt • Stagolee • 1964

Monday, August 26, 2013


This week it’s The Wailers vs The Waylors!

The Wailers • Tall Cool One • 1964 version

Waylon Jennings • Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down • 1978

Tune in next week for Muddy Waters and Big Crawford!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

C’mon, organ, boogie for me . . . long time!

Lightning Hopkins • Organ Boogie • 1949

Photo from cover of Lightning Hopkins: The Gold Star Sessions Vol. 2 (Arhoolie CD-337, 1990)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Diz que fui por aí

Nara Leão • Diz que fui por aí • 1964

Artist photo: Nara Leão

Thanks to Mike Y.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I don’t care if I never wake up

Banjo Joe • My Money Never Runs Out • 1927

Banjo Joe (Gus Cannon), vocal, banjo; Blind Blake, guitar. Recorded in Chicago, c.November 1927.

Gus Cannon photo: booklet to Good for What Ails You (Old Hat CD-1005, 2005).


Milt Jackson & The Thelonious Monk Quintet • Evidence • 1948

LP cover: Cover Jazz

Monday, August 19, 2013

Drunkard’s Dream #3

Pretty Things/Yardbird Blues Band • Wine, Women & Whiskey • 1998

Echoes Of Zion • Atlanta’s Tragic Monday • 1949

Next Monday: The Wailers and The Waylors. . . !

Sunday, August 18, 2013

It crawls all through your bones

Will Shade • Better Leave That Stuff Alone • 1928

Will Shade, vocal, guitar; Jab Jones, piano. Memphis, 24 Sep 1928.

Photos: Sterno can via; Canned Heat ad via Wikipedia.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Don’t You Want to Know?

Of rusty razors, Major Bowes, Laura Dukes, and oh oh ohs. . . .

Black Gal Swing – The Delta Boys: Son Bonds, lead vocal, kazoo; Sleepy John Estes, 
  guitar, vocal; Raymond Thomas, tub bass.
Working Man Blues, Little Laura Blues  – “Sleepy” John Estes, vocal, guitar; 
  Son Bonds, guitar, spoken; Raymond Thomas, tub bass.
Don’t You Want to Know? – The Delta Boys: Sleepy John Estes, lead vocal, guitar; 
  Son Bonds, kazoo, vocal; Raymond Thomas, tub bass.
80 Highway Blues – Son Bonds, vocal, guitar; Sleepy John Estes, guitar; Raymond 
  Thomas, tub bass. All titles recorded in Chicago, 24 Sep 1941.

Illustration: R. Crumb via Johanna’s Visions

Friday, August 16, 2013

She only wanted things she really needed

Merle Haggard & The Strangers • Hungry Eyes • 1969

I wonder . . . my little darlin’ . . .
where can you be . . . again tonight. . . .

This has been a favorite since the first time I heard it so many years ago I’ve forgotten where and when. Cecil Gant had a huge WWII hit off it . . . I think this is the hit version (he recorded it more than once in the same period), but no matter, it’s a good’un!

Pvt. Cecil Gant “The G.I. Sing-Sation” • I Wonder • 1944

Maybe sometime later on, I’ll play you Ray Charles’ and Aretha Franklin’s versions (actually, Aretha’s is here, I’d forgotten). . . .

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Number One is at the station,
Number Two way out on the road

This seems to be a cross between an early attempt at “Brutal Hearted Woman” and Johnny’s version of Sunnyland Slim’s Doctor Clayton-esque whoops in the Sunnyland song posted earlier today.

Johnny Shines • No Name Blues • 1953

Johnny Shines, vocal/guitar; Walter Horton, harmonica; Al Smith, bass. Recorded in Chicago, 22 Jan 1953. 
Song so titled, I guess, because it was never originally issued. . . .

Thanks to Steve Franz for inspiring me to go back and listen to this stuff!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The El Dorados • Mean Mistreatin’ Mama • c. 1990s

Pirkle Lee Moses Jr, vocals; El Dorados, backing vocals; Studebaker John, slide guitar; Dick Taylor, guitar; Dan Simon, string bass; Jim McCarty, drums.

Get it: Chicago Blues: Rockin’ After Midnight!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Drunkard’s Dream #2

Lawrence Walker and his rockin’ Cajun band, featuring (possibly) the fabulous Dick Richard on steel, live at a dance in the early sixties. Drivin’ nails indeed.

Continuing on our path to oblivion, Brother Ray invites us to drop by for a little 
taste. . . .

Lawrence Walker • Another Nail In My Coffin • c. early 1960s

Ray Charles • Let’s Go Get Stoned • 1966

click on individual song titles to listen

Next week: Pretty Things/Yardbird Blues Band and the Echoes of Zion!

Lawrence Walker track courtesy Neal Pomea (Pommier) 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Everything’s Going To Turn Out Alright

Listening to the great Otis Rush right now, so this one moves forward. . . .

Everything’s Going To Turn Out Alright –
The Otis Rush Blues Band – 1966

Photo: Chicago/The Blues/Today! CD package / Ray Flerlage

When your way gets dark, baby,
hang your lights up high

Two takes of “Charley’s most ethereal bottleneck piece. . . . ‘Magnolia’s’ remarkable feature is the plaintive guitar cadenza that extends his vocal line, through first lines, continuing through spoken asides and replacing entire second lines. It’s an idea unique to these two songs, and to the blues, and its emotional appeal has been rarely matched.” —Dick Spottswood, from “Song Notes and Transcriptions” in Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton (Revenant 212, 2001)

Charley Patton • Magnolia Blues • 1929

Charley Patton • When Your Way Gets Dark • 1929

Friday, August 09, 2013

See that spider scramblin’ up the wall. . . .

Wiley Barner • My Gal Treats Me Mean 
(But I Can't Leave Her Alone) • 1927

LP cover: American Music

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Cowboy Jack Clement 1931–2013

Waylon Jennings • Let’s All Help The Cowboys (Sing The Blues) • 1975
(written and co-produced by Jack Clement)

Bobby Bare • Miller’s Cave • 1966
(written by Jack Clement)

Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two • Guess Things Happen That Way • 1958
(written and produced by Jack Clement)

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Hokum Boys & Jane Lucas • Hip Shakin’ Strut • 1930

click on song title to listen

The Hokum Boys were lots of different singers and groups. This aggregation is Jane Lucas (real name Mozelle Alderson) and Georgia Tom Dorsey, vocal duet; Georgia Tom Dorsey, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar. Recorded in Richmond, Indiana, 20 Nov 1930.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Drunkard’s Dream #1

This new series started life as a mix CD I made for my brother a couple years ago. But the songs are good and strong, revolving around a certain endlessly diverse and fascinating theme, and voila, we have ourselves another series. . . .

Let’s start out with an unissued take of “Whiskey River” recorded during the sessions that resulted in Willie Nelson’s 1973 album Shotgun Willie.

Willie Nelson • Whiskey River • 1973

Stay tuned! Up next: Lawrence Walker and Ray Charles, followed in the coming weeks by the Echoes of Zion, Flaco Jiménez, The Wailers and more!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

He knows a free world when he hears one

Lawrence Ferlinghetti • Moscow in the Wilderness, 
Segovia in the Snow • 1970