Wednesday, October 01, 2014


Big excitement here in BAKland—the 2015 Classic Blues Artwork from the 1920’s calendar and CD arrived on Monday. Following are my initial impressions of the CD. Concise reaction: Wow! Verbose reaction: On first listen this has to be, for my tastes, one of the best, most well-rounded collections of John Tefteller’s Classic Blues Songs from the 1920‘s yet. To the familiar mix of prewar country guitar blues they’ve added two piano blues by Roosevelt Sykes (recording as Dobby Bragg) and an early gospel quartet coupling from the Famous Blue Jays. The CD opens with Kansas Joe’s “When the Levee Breaks,” so clear and clean you would think it was recorded much later than 1929. Also here in newly wonderful sound are Willie Lofton’s string snapping “Dark Road Blues,” “Texas Easy Street Blues” by Henry Thomas, the now infamous newly found Tommy Johnson “Alcohol and Jake Blues”/“Ridin’ Horse” in way better sound than we ever thought possible, both terrific performances; “Raggin’ the Blues” by the barber William Moore is here in nice sound; Cannon’s “Walk Right In” is another great sounding side. “My Babe My Babe” by Bill Wilber/Joe McCoy is another I haven’t heard sound this good.

Blind Blake makes his annual appearance with a terrific “Dry Bones Shuffle,” sound quality again belying its 1927 origin. Blake is also present as Chocolate Brown/Irene Scruggs’s accompanist on the teasing “You've Got What I Want” and its flip side. I don’t think I’ve heard Harvey Hull’s “Don’t You Leave Me Here” apart from an old OJL LP and it, too, sounds really fine. I suppose one could just rubber stamp all 24 songs with “sounds great” and be on completely solid ground. There are two version of Blind Lemon’s “Match Box Blues” recorded a few weeks apart; a gospel tune by Brownsville Son Bonds and Hammie Nixon; two fine “clanka lanka” style quartet numbers by the Blue Jays; did I miss anything? As to the 2015 calendar itself, along with all the “usual” ad repros, there are really nice (and newly seen by me) large photos of Willie Lofton, Bonds and Nixon, and Roosevelt Sykes. Another worthy calendar/CD combo from Blues Images.

“Bill” Wilber • My Babe My Babe • 1935

Joe McCoy, vocal/guitar; Willie Lofton, guitar. Chicago, 22 July 1935.

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