The new movie Black Snake Moan does not come out until March 2nd (Friday!!), but here at Honey H.Q. we’ve gotten our hands on the soundtrack which features Samuel L. Jackson doing a few classic blues numbers. Jackson plays an aging bluesman in the movie – and I’m guessing sings these songs during the course – as there is a lot of ambient nosies and dialog in the background of these tracks, especially before Black Snake Moan where he tells a story about his own personal blues and how his wife the did him wrong. Jackson learned how to play guitar for the role and it comes off well, but the star of course his his voice which is perfectly suited for the blues.
Black Snake Moan is left more or less the same as when Blind Lemon Jefferson first sang it in 1927 but his take on Stagolee is a very loose take on the tale that doesn’t feature a gambling match, Stetson hat or any real reason for the murder. It’s sort of a mix between Snatch and the Poontangs and a R.L. Burnside telling of the song which isn’t my favorite by any stretch of imagination, but Jackson sells it a lot better than Burnside. For those keeping up with our ongoing Stagolee project, this Burnside number is new to the list. I’ve also posted a bunch of other takes on the classic Black Snake Moan, my favorites are either Lemon’s original or Rosa Henderson’s female take on the song.
R.L Burnside – Staggolee (2001)
Samuel L. Jackson – Stackolee (2007)
Samuel L. Jackson – Black Snake Moan (2007)
Blind Lemon Jefferson – That Black Snake Moan (1927)
Blind Lemon Jefferson – Black Snake Moan
Blind Lemon Jefferson – Black Snake Moan No. 2
Brownie McGhee – Black Snake Moan (1951)
Lead Belly – Black Snake Moan (1935)
Rosa Henderson – Black Snake Moan (1927)
Martha Copeland – Black Snake Moan (1927)
Cobb and Underwood – Black Snake Moan (1930)
Lawrence Casey recorded two sides for Brunswick in 1929 under the unfortunate nickname “Papa Egg Shell” reportedly because of the shape of his head and not his fragile psyche. These tracks are country blues in its purest form. Casey is a superb guitar player with a voice that should have at least got him half a dozen sides. Unfortunately, that’s the story with many of the people posted here at Honey, but at least we can here the few songs they did record.
Papa Egg Shell – Whole Soul Blues (1929)
This was the track I was planning on posting yesterday. Walter Vinson leads this duet with Harry Chatman on piano in this incredibly fun and fresh sounding. Chatman steals the show here, but Vinson pulls the whole song together. The second track “Overtime Blues” is a showcase for Vinson, just him and his wonderful guitar – but it raises some doubt on if the Leroy Carter of the first track is Vinson as rumored. I think the guitar on “Can’t Anyone Tell Me Blues” sounds a lot like Vinson and the vocals could just be off because of the recording equipment.
Leroy Carter (Walter Vinson) – Can’t Anybody Tell Me Blues (1935)
Walter Vinson – Overtime Blues (1929)
I was going to post a Walter Vinson track today, but I kept listening to this Mary Butler track (featuring Vinson on guitar) and now I’m on a quest to track down her recorded works. Vinson was part of the Mississippi Sheiks, one of the most prolific groups recording in the pre-war era its a wonder how he had time to play on other peoples’ sides as well as record a dozen or more solo numbers. This track was recorded in 1928 and is the first recording of Vinson away from the Sheiks and its an impressive number, Vinson’s guitar work is outstanding and Mary Butler’s vocals don’t over power his playing. It’s obvious that this recording was Vinson’s not Mary’s.
Mary Butler with Walter Vinson – Mad Dog Blues (1928)
Hannah Sylvester recorded a handful of songs for Fletcher Henderson’s Band in 1923 and unlike the majority of his female blues singers she was able to pull off the blues style and not just vaudeville style over singer that a lot of his works are mired with. Her voice is sweet, but solid and Henderson and a very young Coleman Hawkins back her well on this great blues song “Down South Blues.”
Hannah Sylvester – Down South Blues (1923)
Sam Montgomery isn’t known for being the most original blues player around – he emulates Kokomo Arnold and Peetie Wheatstraw a little too well. But don’t you wish more people emulated Arnold and Wheatstraw? He’s a better slide guitar player than he is a vocalist (he doesn’t actually pull off the Wheatstraw vocal patterns very well) but his recordings are still a lot of fun, originality aside.
Sam Montgomery – Mercy Mercy Blues
I’m not always the best at responding to comments, but I like challenges. And I really want to be P&G’s reason to wake up in the morning, so here is some Gladys Bentley per their request.
Gladys Bentley was a major star among the Gay and Lesbian community in New York , preforming elaborate stage shows with drag queens and backing bands, Bentley would also dress up in a full tux and preform songs from both male and female points of few, much like Frankie Jaxon. Unfortunately this side of her work was never recorded and her released numbers don’t display much of her transgressive musical act. They do display her incredible talent, both as a vocalist/scat singer and piano player and are good fun, though they are surprisingly clean considering her other project, but also compared to people like Lil’ Johnson.
Gladys Bentley – Red Beans and Rice (1929)
Gladys Bentley – Worried Blues (1929)
Bonus Video – Gladys Bentley on You Bet Your Life preforming Them There Eyes. I wish we had the game show part of the show, but she kills it on piano.
Unfortunately i can’t embedded the video, so head over to youtube and check it out.
If You haven’t check them out already – download a few of those Arizona Dranes tracks – they are all fantastic. Up next is a long lost classic from Trix Records. Before that I have a whole mess of new records and requests for single songs that I’m going to try to take care of first.
Priscilla Stewart is one of these female blues singers that appear out of the mist to recorded a batch of songs and then disappeared from which she came. She didn’t seem to be part of the vaudeville circuit – her singing style is refrained and modest and she does not appear in any newspaper advertisements or theater reviews. She recorded all of her songs with the great Jimmy Blythe (Lewis) who most likely also discovered her and got Paramount to record her. Her recorded sales were modest at best – she did record at 14 sessions, but each session only contained two issued sides at the most.
Priscilla Stewart – I Was Born A Brownskin And You Can’t Make Me Blue (1925) Link Fixed