Lean Meat Don’t Fry
Posted in 1940s,Country Blues,Honey,Post-War on 04.19.09

I know that i just post a few Memphis Minnie tracks, but my Mom called me up to tell that the book she’s reading quotes Memphis Minnie in one of the chapter intros. The book is The Help by Kathryn Stockett and is about Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s and my Mom says it is really great.

The song “Lean Meat Don’t Fry,” is fantastic – Minnie is rare form and is backed by a great band. The song tells a a pretty grim tale of Minnie getting revenge on her “Big Bad Wolf/and you won’t stay home at night.” The tale plays out nicely and concludes with a satisfying “cut from hip to hip.”  Bonus request from the email vaults for Memphis Minnie’s tribute to Ma Rainey, Bob Dylan used the first stanza as an ode to Alicia Keys which is still bizarre to me.

Memphis Minnie – Lean Meat Don’t Fry (take 1) (1946)

Memphis Minnie – Lean Meat Don’t Fry (take 2)(1946)

Memphis Minnie – Ma Rainey (1940)

Let A Deck Of Cards Be My Tombstone
Posted in 1940s,Field Recording,Piedmont Blues on 11.28.07

Even though I seem to be the only one obsessed with this song, I’m going to keep posting versions of Dying Crapshooter Blues until it becomes the “new” Stagolee. This version was recorded by John Lomax in 1940 on one of his trips to Atlanta. Blind Willie McTell is in fine form here – and he lays claim to writing this song, which is a dubious claim at best – however the lyrics and the story in this version differs significantly from the traditional takes on the song. McTell’s delivery on this song might be the best I’ve heard from him, which is saying a lot as I think he had the best delivery in pre-war blues.

Blind Willie McTell – Dying Crapshooter’s Blues (1940)

Pep Talk
Posted in 1940s,Gospel on 04.16.07

I like the design. More than I like that Black Lips song. I will be working on a fixed or selectable resolution for those under 1280×1024. The idea behind the design was a 78 album sleeve – orange and brown (colors that also invoke honey and age) with a pre-war style design for both the bee’s and the logo. Edith Johnson’s cover for Honey Dripper Blues is the foundation from which the idea sparked and I think we accomplished the task of modernizing that style in a very respectful manner.

These tracks were recorded by Fisk University on the Mooreheed Plantation in Mississippi. The church and congregation were lead by Rev. McGhee although he doesn’ appear to be the vocal focus on any of the tracks. It is rumored that he might be the same as F.W McGhee ,but it is hard to tell from these tracks. These track feature an incredible energy – the foot stomps dominate the mix and the vocals mimic that rhythm in shape note fashion. Really incredible track for those tax day blues.

Rev. McGhee and The Church of God in Christ – No Condemnation
Rev. McGhee and The Church of God in Christ – Testimony (One Day Lord I’ll Give Up This World For You) (1941)
Rev. McGhee and The Church of God in Christ – Jesus Is My Everything (1941)

A To Z Blues

There were a few requests in my inbox this morning for more Josie Miles, so I picked A To Z Blues, which she introduces but the song is taken over by Billy Higgins who doesn’t do her any favors by singing lead on this song. A to Z Blues is an interesting song because it might be the most violent of all the murder blues songs. It’s so gory in fact it’s almost comical and later versions of the song seem to follow that idea as they become more sing-songy rather than mean and forceful way Higgins sings the song. These are all the versions of the song that I have, are there any more?
Josie Miles – A To Z Blues (1924)
Blind Willie McTell – A To Z Blues (1949)

Blind Willie McTell – A To Z Blues (1956)

Butterbeans and Susie – A To Z Blues (1924)

Charley Jordan – Cutting My ABCs (1937)

Old Vet Blues
Posted in 1940s,Honey,Piano Blues on 07.10.06

Poor Boy Burke recorded four sides for Columbia in 1941, though they would sit around unreleased until the early 90s. Nothing is known about Burke or this session, Burke is the singer and quite a polished one at that suggesting that he has been singing for many years before this recording and he is backed by a very good, but unknown band. The whole side has a high degree of polish that isn’t really found a lot until after the war.

Poor Boy Burke – Old Vet Blues (1941)

M & O Blues
Posted in 1930s,1940s,Delta,Honey on 06.01.06

The Stagolee Archives are now up. If you have any other versions please send them along to pkpatnaik@prewarblues.org. The archives are up for donors only, sorry.
Willie Brown was an early delta blues singer who traveled and play with the delta greats like Son House, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson. He is most famous for being mentioned in Johnson’s Crossroad Blues but he was a strong guitar player with a great voice. These two songs were by request, M & O blues was recorded at the famous 1930 Paramount Records recording session that also brought us the first recordings of Son house. The second track was recorded in 1941 and features a calmer, softer Willie Brown leading to some debate whether or not the Willie Brown who recorded this song with Lomax was the same Willie Brown who had played with Patton and House some 11 years earlier.

Willie Brown – M & O Blues (1930)

Willie Brown – Make Me A Pallet On The Floor (1941)

I Was Worried Last Night
Posted in 1940s,Honey on 05.16.06

I don’t think Johnnie Temple gets enough respect, maybe because he jumped back and forth between so many styles and after a few (amazing) post-war recordings and stints in Chicago blues and jazz clubs he left the scene only to reappear a few times during the folk revival of the 1960s. Temple has a wonderful voice and presence that immediately recalls Lonnie Johnson, you can hear his weariness and pain in his voice but it’s never over the top.
Johnnie Temple – Rommin’ House Blues (1940)