The Puzzling Case of I’m Going Away
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Posted in 1920s,Contemporary,Country Blues,Post-War on 06.23.09

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)


Lean Meat Don’t Fry
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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)


When I’m Dead Give It To My ‘Bearer
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Posted in 1920s,Female Blues on 04.10.09

I signed on a house last week, hopefully that means I’ll be able to unpack all my blues cds finally after their 6 or so months of captivity in old wine boxes. Durham will be my new home, I can already feel the Bull City pride sweeping through my consciousness.

If you were having problems downloading the last couple files, I believe I’ve fixed the extra “/” being inserted when uploading files.

Today’s track is from Elizabeth Johnson who spins Easy (See See, C.C) Rider into a first person narrative about leaving that man…then comes back for revenge with a “big long shiny barrel.” Despite the familiar premise the lyrics are strong, and Johnson breaks her monotone singing style for a few moments where she lets some guinie anger slip in when singing “I ain’t no dog/please don’t dog me around/it’s your time now…” The title seems ironic, as there’s no Sobbin’ in this side.

Elizabeth Johnson – Sobbin’ Woman Blues (1928)


You May Cock Your Pistol In My Face/But You Ain’t Done Nothing To Me
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Posted in 1930s,Country Blues on 03.31.09

There is a great new blog from France called “Old Weird America” that uses The Anthology as a jumping off point for different variations on the songs presented there. About mid-way down the front page there is a fantastic post compiling 100!!! different versions of John Henry. Pretty essential stuff. We are planning on joining forces on a couple of songs, so keep your eyes peeled.

I got a couple of emails this month about the thirst for more Memphis Minnie tracks, as I think only one of the two times I’ve posted about her is still up. This first side, “You Ain’t Doing Nothing To Me,” is one of my favorites by her even though her guitar isn’t really the focus – instead we have Black Bob (Honey Session Player Hall of Famer) on piano backing Minnie who is giving one of her very best vocal performances. The last 15 or seconds of the side are some of my favorite of all time.  The second track is Minnie solo doing “Ain’t No Use Trying To Tell On Me,” a song that sounds like it was ripped right out of Blind Willie McTell’s songbook (Southern Can) that I think is a great sound for her.

Memphis Minnie – You Ain’t Doing Nothing To Me (1935) *fixed*

Memphis Minnie – Ain’t No Use Trying To Tell On Me (1933) *fixed*


Nolan Welsh
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Posted in 1920s,Piano Blues on 03.20.09

I’m late to the game about this but, over at the Encyclopedia Britannica blog the did a nice post compiling difference versions of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” for the song’s 70th anniversary. It’s a collection of youtube links rather than downloads which is sad, but I’m a sucker for these sorts of posts. Check it out here.

Nolan Welsh recorded less than a dozen sides for Paramount in the late 20s, all of them superb both in voice and talent on the ivories. Like all the stories on this blog, he didn’t get any record sales and is now these sides languish in relative obscurity. Out of the two songs I’m posting today, I’m obsessed with Larceny Woman Blues, the vocals on this track really remind more of more Delta blues vocal styles than most piano blues singers which I find a lot of fun. Dying Pickpocket Blues isn’t a St. James variant as I had hoped, but it’s still fantastic.

Nolan (Barrelhouse) Welsh – Dying Pickpocket Blues (1929)

Nolan (Barrelhouse) Welsh – Larceny Woman Blues (1929)


She’s Got Jordan River In Her Hips
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Posted in 1930s,Country Blues,Hokum,Honey on 02.27.09

With the new WordPress 2.7 is it not possible to use the new Links feature if your blog isn’t “widget” enabled? I guess it is time for an update for the 2.7 world, but it seems weird that Links doesn’t publish a page anymore.

The next line in the song, She’s Got Jordan River In Her Hips is just as a good as the title, but I won’t spoil it for you. This track was recorded by R.T Hanen who may be Jaydee Short, though I’m not hearing it – especially when Jaydee Short has such a unique voice. Most “dirty” blues songs get pretty old quickly, this one had me laughing all week. I’m also posting a great Jaydee Short song (and one I posted way back in 04) for comparison sake. Listening closer to the Jaydee Short makes me wonder if it was pressed at the wrong speed – the balance of guitar speed and voice pitch seem to be off somewhat.

R.T Hanen – She’s Got Jordan River In Her Hips (1931)

Jaydee Short – Barefoot Blues (1932)


Dark Was The Night
Posted in Contemporary,Gospel,Instrumental on 02.20.09

Dark Was The Night is my favorite song of all time, let me first say that.

There is a new charity compilation by Red Hot called Dark Was The Night with a bunch of indie bands doing mostly covers , and like all things like this is pretty hit and miss. Antony (of Antony and the Johnson’s) does a great cover of the Bob Dylan B-Side “I Was Young When I Left Home” and Sharon and the Dap-Tone’s cover of Inspiration Information is equally excellent.

Kronos Quartet takes on Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was The Night and it leaves me confused. I’ve listened to it a dozen times or so and i can’t really pick out if i like or hate it – it’s this rambling confusing take on the side and I just can’t wrap my head around if it’s successfully or not – which isn’t a shining recommendation I know, but download and let me know what ya’ll think.

Kronos Quartet – Dark Was The Night (2009)


Garfield
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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)


Warm Wipe Stomp
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Posted in 1930s,Country Blues,Instrumental on 02.02.09

Does Anyone else think that “Add New” is a strange way to phrase the create new post feature in WordPress 2.7? It took me awhile to figure it what it was referring to, but maybe I’m not into the swing of posting again yet.

Speaking of oddly titled things – Warm Wipe Stomp is a great dance number by Peg Leg Howell and His Gang – one of the best early blues bands, and one I haven’t really talked about on this site much. This track has a great energy to it and features both violin and mandolin two instrustments mostly found in country recordings – but both feel right at home on this side.

Peg Leg Howell and His Gang – Warm Wipe Stomp (1930)


Newly Found Blind Blake Tracks
Posted in 1930s,Country Blues,Meta on 01.26.09

Life Update

I haven’t posted in awhile because I moved to Chapel Hill in November and I don’t have a place to put up my CDs yet, so they are all in boxes and it’s a pretty big pain to get to them at the moment, Ms. Honey assures me that her patent pending shelving system will be put up the week – and posting should pick up around then. I got a new job in the non-profit sector in Orange County, which is a welcomed change from the banking world. The other bit of news is that I got engaged towards the end of last year which is pretty thrilling. The hunt is now on for “appropriate” pre-war blues songs about lasting romance. (please suggest some)

Blind Blake

Over holiday I picked up the 2009 Classic Blues Artwork From The 1920s Calendar, which seems like an awfully specific title, especially since its not accurate as most of the images are from the 1930s. The main draw for the calendar is that it has the newly found Blind Blake tracks (as well as some new Ben Curry sides) which are loan from Old Hat records (though it looks like Yazoo might have put the disc together) which came as as shock to me as I figured that they would want first crack at releasing those sides.

Night and Day is the first of the lost Blind Blake tracks, recorded in 1932 it by the numbers “woke-up-without-my-woman” blues song that’s strangely punctuated by some wonderful upbeat ragtime guitar work between stanzas – the guitar trying to be the force Blake wish for “to move these blues away” but I’m not sure if it works.

Sun To Sun fairs better I feel – I know most people don’t listen to Blake for his lyrics – but this song is pretty solid I love “I’ve lived on water/I’ve lived on land/I ain’t find no woman whose been fine with one man” line that ends the song.

Blind Blake – Night and Day (1932)
Blind Blake – Sun To Sun (1932)