As with the previous and also future titles in this series, Odds & Ends Vol. 1 purposes to present you, the listener, with the best selections available to us, the programmers, of that wide-ranging American musical genre.
This volume in our long running series might easily be subtitled “It Came from the Garage,” as that is where many of these wonderful records and tapes that make up this set came from. Some were a little worse for the wear, some smelled strongly of mildew, but all had that something, and indeed they quite literally shouted out and implored us to put them on this collection. We believe you will agree we did the right thing.
Among the many fascinating country, blues, and gospel selections, we also present a number of tunes from the provinces of our great land—Hawaii, Louisiana, Europe, and Japan. As many of these have found their way into the slipstream of popular culture, we find they travel quite comfortably next to their more well-considered brethren. —Irving Snurd, Radio Station WACK, Lompoc, Ca.
Like the cover image says, it really isn’t a tape at all, but it did used to be a mix CD. And it does contain songs about Mississippi, songs by Mississippi singers, and sometimes both at the same time. Yes, it’s another infernal series from Blues All Kinds. We kick off with Elvis’s souvenir record for Mom. Make of that what you will. . . .
Elvis Presley • That’s When Your Heartaches Begin • 1953
Next week we go deep down in Mississippi with J. B. Lenoir and Jim Dickinson.
“Yeah, we know these sounds. These sounds come to one man. One man from Mississippi, USA. One man known as the wizard of the harp. One man known as the menace, and his name is SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON!”
With these opening remarks, a generation of young blues fans was introduced to the delights of Sonny Boy Williamson. We came because of the Yardbirds, but after the show we left with Sonny Boy. The Yardbirds, probably to scared to death, stay respectfully in the background on this live LP from 1963. We went on to discover Sonny Boy’s Chess LPs, his Trumpet sides, various Checker 45s, and many years later, more of his early 60s European recordings. All good, most great. But this is the “sounds” that started us all off. . . .
Today would have been Pete Welding’s 78th birthday, but he only made 60. If you don’t know who he is, have a look at his abbreviated biography on Wikipedia. He was a good friend to me and many others and he is truly missed.
And, so, we come to the end of our exploration into the alternating exploits of Stack and Billy; and Frankie, Johnnie, and Albert. To quote from our opening salvo way back in August of this year:
“[A]nother 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:  who was wearing what and how was it magical,  where the whole cold thing went down,  what the participants’ real names were, as well as the names of spouses and various friends and family,  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 is/are Frankie and Johnny:“[O]ur young heroes run[ning] the gamut of name changes, spelling variants, and gender switches. We’ll surely come to a . . . conclusion, if nothing else.”
There you have it. Conclusion reached. Twelve entries, twenty-seven songs; hardly exhaustive, but we here at Blues All Kindsare exhausted, so we leave you now to your own exploratory devices, as there is much more out there worthy of exploration and excavation. Here’s Charley:
If you can forgive the un-P.C., heck, racist, spoken intro to this piece you’ll enjoy hearing a fine bottleneck piece, based on “John Henry,” played by blind man Riley Puckett. I first heard this on an LP called The String Bands Vol. 2 on the Old Timey label back in the 60s and it quickly became a favorite. Now the Tompkins Square label has put together a wonderful collection of old time “primitive” guitar pieces and this tune is on it along with equally fine work by Sylvester Weaver, Sam McGee from Tennessee, David Miller, Frank Hutchinson, Lemuel Turner, and the mysterious Bayless Rose.
It was this song, side one, track 3, on a loaned copy of The Best of Muddy Waters that really lit something up inside and turned your correspondent into a blues fan. “Aw, take me wit’cha man, when you go!”
We got these three live tunes slapdash on the U.S. version of Out of Our Heads and December’s Children (with the U.K. cover photo for Out of Our Heads); the kids in Great Britain got an EP called Got LIVE If You Want It (unrelated to the later U.S. LP of the same name) with a couple more tracks a month earlier than the U.S. Out of Our Heads. Got all that? Well, get these. . . .
Elmore James and his band recorded “Baby, What’s Wrong” in November 1952 in Chicago for Modern’s Meteor imprint; a couple of months later, in January 1953, they recorded the same tune as an instrumental called “Country Boogie” for Chess. These guys were so tight that “Country Boogie” could almost have been the backing track for Elmore’s vocals on “Baby, What’s Wrong.” The band, of course, is the same for both: Elmore James, vocal/guitar; J. T. Brown, tenor sax; Little Johnny Jones, piano; Ransom Knowling, bass; and Odie Payne, drums. Couple of hot ones for your Tuesday.