If Blues Was Whiskey
Posted in Honey on 08.08.05

The wonderful Keep The Coffee Coming posted one of my favorite Woody Guthrie songs “Why Oh Why” this morning – check it out. I might be alone on this, but I might like Guthrie’s silly and whimsical songs more than his his other work – he has such a great way with words and themes.

Bumble Bee Slim (Amos Easton) will forever been know as a poor man’s Leory Carr and to some extent that’s a shame because Slim was a much better lyricist than Carr though he was only a blues singer and did not play any instruments. Bumble Bee Slim does sound a lot like Carr, but has a much greater range of emotions than Carr’s perpetual sadness. This track “If Blues was Whiskey” is a great example of the lyrical ability of Slim and he is also backed by a really great band featuring Charlie McCoy on guitar and Jimmie Gordan on piano.

Bumble Bee Slim – If Blues Was Whiskey

My Name Is Precious
Posted in Honey on 08.05.05

The Music Maker Relief Foundation was founded in 1993 by Tim Duffy as a way to help blues artists record and preform music and most importantly provide services to help improve these blues musicians quality of life through providing food and access to health care services. For the next few Friday I’ll be posting tracks from various Music Maker albums. You can buy these albums through Music Maker directly for 10 dollars each (as part of their summer sales event) and it all goes to a really great cause.

Precious Bryant
Today we are looking at the new Music Maker release “My Name Is Precious” by Precious Bryant. Bryant is a Georgia born blues singer who was first recorded by George Mitchell in 1967. Precious is an amazing guitar guitar player and has one of the sweetest voices I’ve ever heard. These recordings were done by Tim Duffy in the late 90s and while some of them feature Bryant playing with a small band the two tracks I’ve chose feature Precious solo. The first track “You Don’t Want Me No More” is a great variation on C.C. Rider while “Baby, Please Come Home To Me” is the traditional tune transformed into a wonderfully haunting blues number.

Buy My Name Is Precious Direct From Music Maker

Precious Bryant – You Don’t Want Me No More

Precious Bryant – Baby, Please Come Home To Me

Thirty Five Years
Posted in Honey on 08.04.05

Quick update today.

This track is culled from the Lomax’s American field recordings in 1942. Ozella Jones, the singer, has a very pure voice – sounds a lot like Texas Gladden, but a bit more bluesy. This is a very simple , but effective acappella number. It is a great muscial palette cleanser.

Ozella Jones – I Been A Bad, Bad Girl (Prisoner Blues)

Thinking Of You
Posted in Honey on 08.03.05

Finally, August. I keep hoping that Murderball would play down here to save the trip up to Chapel Hill were I would buy way too many CDs, but every Friday comes and goes and it’s never playing at the only theater down here that would show it. But I have hope for this Friday.

Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds

I forgot about this request for too long, but better late than never. Mamie Smith recorded the first blues song “Crazy Blues” way back in 1920 and it was a huge hit, and Mamie Smith (and other blues singers) were rushed into the studio and cranked out as many songs as they could for about four years straight. The quality of these sessions is wildly varied (I mean Alberta Hunter’s early period is such a mess) but Mamie Smith came out the best, I think. This two tracks were recorded in late 1920 and features one of the best blues bands backing Mamie. The first track “Mem’ries Of You Mammy” feels sort of sluggish to me, but I love her spoken part towards the end. The other track “The Road Is Rocky” is a better number, allowing the Jazz Hounds to do their part and features a really great vocal performance by Mamie

Mamie Smith – Mem’ries Of You Mammy
Mamie Smith – The Road Is Rocky (But I’m Gonna Find My Way)

More Remastering Blues and July Recap
Posted in Honey on 08.02.05

Top Downloads For July, 2005

1. Blind Lemon Jefferson – Black Horse Blues
2. Alberta Hunter – You Can’t Tell A Difference After Dark
3. Woody Guthrie – Baltimore To Washington
4. Skip James – Center Blues
5. Lead Belly – Blind Lemon
6. Marshall Owens – Try Me One More Time
7. Freddy King – Sen-Sa-Shun
8. Lucille Bogan – New Way Blues
9. Jesse Bradey – Waco Ida
10. Pete Harris – Blind Lemon’s Song

On the back end of the new Yazoo release “Hard Time Killing Floor” there are four (out of seven) sides from Son House’s first recording session with Paramount in 1930. Unfortunately they didn’t not release either take of Preachin’ the Blues, my personal favorite track from the session , but the tracks they did choose to release sound as carefully remastered as the Skip James tracks. Son House’s guitar has never sounded better on these recordings – and maybe for the first time I can actually hear and understand each word he is singing.

Again I’m comparing the new Yazoo release to the Document album Son House and The Great Delta Blues Singings (DOCD-5002) which compiles all Son House’s 1930 recordings with Paramount.

Son House – Walkin’ Blues (Yazoo)

Son House – Walkin’ Blues (Document)

Son House – My Black Mama Pt. 1 (Yazoo)
Son House – My Black Mama Pt. 1 (Document)

Hard Time Remastering Blues
Posted in Honey on 08.01.05

The end of July marks our third consecutive month of growth both in users and bandwidth – both of which is good as they are growing in sync with each other. I’ll do the July recap of the top 10 downloads tomorrow – it’s a good list of songs again, it also shows that people still love Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Today’s post is about the new Yazoo Records highly touted remaster of the 1931 Paramount Sessions of Skip James. I’ve talked about this before, but I have a love/hate relationship with Yazoo. On the one hand they put out some really fun compilations and some really fun single disc overviews of blues legends (and almost legends) but they always skimp when it comes to providing adequate notes about the recordings and the sequence of the track lists is normally really awful and confusing. Their new Skip James release “Hard Time Killin’ Floor” is no exception to any of those rules. It has a really nice essay by Stephen Calt about Skip James’ life and some really great details about each of the songs. However, there are no notes about the actual remastering process and the track list order is a mess. The actual sound of the remastering is really solid, however. It sounds like they’ve slowed the songs down just a touch which really brings out James’ phrasing of the songs much better. James’ guitar also sounds a lot “cleaner” and has a much better tone than the previous cd reisusses of these recordings. Lastly, the entire session is very clear sounding – previously tracks like Illinois Blues and others were hard to hear through all the surface noise, these wonderful new remasters have really brought out these hidden gems without making them too clean sounding like the Columbia blues series.

For comparison I’m postings tracks from the Document Records release “I’m So Glad: The Complete 1931 Paramount Recordings” which I believe was the previously best sounding recording of these sessions before the new Yazoo set.

Skip James – Devil Got My Woman (Yazoo)
Skip James – Devil Got My Woman (Document)

Skip James – Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues (Yazoo)
Skip James – Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues (Document)

Skip James – 22-20 Blues (Yazoo)
Skip James – 22-20 Blues (Document)