“Voice Masking” is at once a universal shamanic practice, yet in many ways is viewed as a primeval imitation of various sounds of nature and the music produced by the wind in natural formations. . . . The remarkable mechanics behind the xhöömeij style of throat singing have been widely discussed in recent times; yet few vintage recordings have ever surfaced save for some expeditionary and institutional collections. . . . [About 1930] a contingent of Oriental musicians and singers made their way to Berlin . . . specifically to record examples of traditional song. . . . On “Mon-Gu Tuul 2”, a vocal duet, we hear the lower or “hoarse” part (no pun intended) sung in the style the Tuvans refer to as Kargara on the type of song that would fill a winter’s night or an autumn hunt’s eve.
Ha ha . . . When MCA reissued the 1969 LP Bummer Road on CD in 1997, they put a “Parental Advisory” warning sticker on the CD cover due to the “m-f-” cussfest between Sonny Boy and Leonard Chess on the “Little Village” outtakes. Today’s song, “Unseen Eye,” from the same 1957 session as “Little Village,” made its first appearance on the Bummer Road album. It’s a warning to Miss Mary Belle to “be careful in what you say or do” and features some fittingly atmospheric low register harp playing from the master.
Sonny Boy Williamson • Unseen Eye • 1957
Sonny Boy Williamson, vocal/harmonica; Otis Spann, piano; Robert Lockwood, Luther Tucker, guitars; Willie Dixon, bass; Fred Below, drums. Chicago, September 1957
Somewhere around 1980 I came across a book by Paul Cable, Bob Dylan: The Unreleased Recordings. Lots of fascinating material therein, a lot of which has become, over the decades, way outdated. I think this is where I first read about today’s song, “Sign on the Cross.” It would be another fifteen years or so before I actually heard it via an unofficial release. So I was enticed by the possibilities long before the song itself was able to have its effect on me. Now that it’s finally officially available I thought I would post it for those who maybe haven’t heard it yet. Still pretty affecting, to me, with its seeming mix of passion and facetiousness. Anyway, one of my Dylan favorites still. Hope you like it.