Let’s first start off with life update aka reason blog hasn’t been updated. I’m getting married on Friday (and Saturday) and the wedding planning and whatnot has been taking up a lot of my after work time. I also bought a house and moved to Durham, which took up the rest of my time. I’ll be away on honeymoon to San Diego for the week following. I’m going to give a seal a big hug.
The Puzzling case of the Fiery Furances’ new track I’m Going Away: It is being noted in all the P.R. that the title track lyrics are being credited to Trad. The guitar riff is sounds like its from John Lee Hooker , but those lyrics? At first I assumed it would be a take on Frank Stokes’ side, but there’s very few similarities between those two songs and even less between the track and Elizabeth Cotten or Ralph Willis or any blues song I know – so I’m asking, what is it adapted from?
Fiery Furances – I’m Going Away (2009)
John Lee Hooker – I’m Going Away (1951)
Elizabeth Cotten – I’m Going Away (1965)
Ralph Willis – I’m Going Away (1951)
Frank Stokes – I’m Going Away (1927)
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)
I haven’t been a huge fan of Dust To Digital’s newest series “Art of Field Recording, ” so I never got around to reviewing the first set in full, but I now have the second set and it’s a bit more interesting, though it has all the major faults if the first one. The sets are boxed in a LP sized set, that compared to Dust to Digital’s other work is both ugly and cumbersome – the cds are are in paper cases separated by cheap grey foam. it looks cheap and unprofessional - especially compared to Goodbye, Babylon or even Victrola Favorites. Both the box and disc covers are adorned with the artwork of Art Rosenbaum which I think is pretty hit and miss though having a large picture on the box art with a background of four colored boxes doesn’t do it any favors.
The box includes a large book that was written by Rosenbaum as well, giving an overview of his recording philosophy as well as a track-by-track analysis of each track in the set. His thoughts are clear and always interesting and are well worth the read. The music itself is well recorded and of very high quality, though now that I have eight discs of his recordings I they lack the personal touch of say Harry Smith or Lomax, or a distinct point of view of music itself something I think Old Hat does a great job of capturing. That last point is a bit nit-picky perhaps, but it’s something that I think Dust to Digital normally does a great job, and I was let down by both sets.
Of course the music itself regardless of how it’s package is still really amazing. This track by Jake Staggers is an intersting take on the standard Garfield, a song typically about the assination of president Garfield is turned into a Stagger Lee style murder ballad about a murder over some junk talk and cigars. Staggers is a pretty solid banjo player and it’s always great to hear banjo with blues music.
Jake Staggers – Garfield (1981)
Disclosure: I work for one of the banks that’s in process of being absorbed. Hire me
Today’s songs are from Carolina Slim a lesser known North Carolina blues player – great voice and a prime example of the Piedmont blues as it matured in the post-war era. Carolina Slim in particular borrows a lot from post-war Texas blues musicians. Both tracks here, Ain’t it Sad and Money Blues, show Slim at a stylistic crossroad – and one that would be extremely interesting to follow if his life wasn’t cut short at the young age of 30.
Carolina Slim – Ain’t It Sad (1951)
Carolina Slim – Money blues (1952)
Bo Diddley passed today – leaving behind one of the best and most consistent bodies of work this side of Sam Cooke. My favorite song by him is this one – which I think captures the best aspects of his work – the great Diddley backbeat – and that wonderful voice which I think is severely underrated among post-war blues greats, and rock music in general.
Bo Diddley – Ride On Josephine (1960)
This track from Jesse Thomas is a little bit outside of the range of years normally covered hear, but its so fantastic I couldn’t keep it to myself. Thomas was a session player (most famously with Bessie Tucker) and played mostly around Texas during the pre-war years. This track is from 1948 and he has plugged in, but still retains the purity of the pre-war blues guitar. I love love love the guitar song on this recording.
The next song on this Kent release is another pre-war star’s initial post war recording – Whistling Alex Moore, under his birth name Alexander Moore – does a rowdy Texas Blues number called Neglected Woman – and it’s a rave. The full band here is fantastic and Moore does a great job on piano keeping setting the blazing pace of this number. I wish the drums were a little more in the mix – but it still has the great sound that is also present on Jesse Thomas’ song. I’ve also added an mostly instrumental version of Lillie Mae Blues from that same Alexander Moore session.
Jesse Thomas – Gonna Write You A Letter(1948)
Alexander Moore – Neglected Woman (1951)
Alexander Moore – Lillie Mae Blues (1951)
I’m sorry for the confusion about passwords, but I don’t know of any way to edit the password page to explain how the password system works. The way it works is you click here and it takes you to my donate page – where you can donate some money me out with increasing server costs and I send you a password that allows you to access the videos and the stagolee files among other things. This week I should have reviews of the new Dust To Digital releases, Art of Field Recording and Victrola Favorites.
I’ve been in wonderful Nashville for the past week, and I picked a collection of Ike Turner’s Chicago Sessions – recorded for Cobra and while I think that his best work without Tina was compiled on the wonderful Ike’s Instrumentals on Ace, this compilation features Ike with some great vocalists like Betty Everett and the underrated and seldom heard Tommy Hodge. This track was recorded by Ike and a stellar band in 1958 and features the aforementioned Tommy Hodge on vocals singing his heart out in one of the best electric blues performances I’ve heard. Ike passed away late last year and I was saddened that many of the bloggers who chose to pay homage to Ike’s legacy (and not just for his abusive relationship with Tina) no one I read post anything about Ike’s early rock and roll years.
Ike Turner – Down and Out (1958)
Sorry for avoiding the blog for a few weeks but i’ve slowly but I’ve started the slow crawl to unemployment as my work contract has unexpectedly terminated, or rather will be terminated sometime in January or February whenever I finish what I’ve been working on recently. I think I’ve come to the acceptance phase of termination and I’m pretty excited to move on to other and hopefully better employment or possibly grad school.
I am looking for recommendations on graduate schools – I’m interested in getting into a southern studies/history or a musicology program like the one at University of Memphis where I could focus on southern musical culture or history. In my brief search I’ve discover programs at both Ole Miss and University of Memphis that excite me , but I’m open and interested in other programs around the country. I’m sort of nervous about going into a music department because I’ve never taken any music courses (I was a history major in undergrad) and a lot of music programs have very daunting requirements for someone who can’t read music. But please send me your recommendation and advice to pkpatnaik at prewarblues.org
I was sent this album a few weeks ago by a reader it was released by a small british label, Mississippi, called Life is a Problem – and I can’t get it out of my head. This track in particular has really changed my mind about Utah Smith – a post-war gospel guitar player who until I heard both of his tracks on this album I thought he was so boring and all coffee shop hype. This track in particular “I Am Free” with his noisy electric blues guitar and his backing chorus with handclaps and shouts that really bring this song alive.
The two releases that I’ve heard of by this label are available for purchase here (UK) and are vinyl only.
For domestic readers of this site – Other Music stocks the album online - here.
Utah Smith – I’m Free
I meant to post this on Sunday as it doesn’t really have anything to do with blues – but it’s a great great song and should be number 1 ! on everyone’s playlist by weeks end. Charles Walker only recorded this one single for Nashville label Champion before moving to NYC and forming the somewhat famous (Little) Charles and the Sidewinders under the wing of Lloyd Price. But this one singe, I think, is much better than his later material and really one of the best Rhythm And Blues songs of all time. At two minutes in length, Charles Walker rips through the song at a almost proto-punk speed – leaving his patched together backing vocalists little time to catch up. What it would be like to have seen him preform live during these years…
Charles Walker and the Daffodils – No Fool No More (1959)
A long time ago, This album was requested when I was posting a bunch of out of print things – and I’m finally making good on that promise. Trix Records was one of the best of the blues labels in post-war era though it never had the break through artists that would help propel Chess and others to major label status. This album Detroit After Hours is a collection of their musicians playing on the same piano and recored live at a house in Detroit’s “The Valley” a former black neighborhood that was the center of black entertainment after the war and was demolished over time in the 70s and 80s to make way for a freeway. The music is lively and really capture the spirit of a blues after hour party and all these songs are wonderful.
Pick a song or pick the full album.
Chuck Smith – The Train Is Coming (1973)
Detroit After Hours Vol. 1 (zip file)