No, not borrow, I gave it to you. That's my spare copy. The harmonica playing on "Work Song" is some of my favorite ever. That riff is just so fucking groovy.
I was reading a book called Pulphead, which is a series of essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan. One of them concerns his attempts to discover the lyrics to that song to help Griel Marcus with an article. He calls up John Fahey and then goes down the rabbit hole of blues collectors. Really great read, and the description of that track is great.
It's also on a release from Fahey's last record label called American Primitive 2: Pre War Revenants. I listened to the whole thing yesterday and it's incredible. The deal was they would only use songs by artists who recorded sparsely and had no biographical information floating around, so that the songs could just speak for themselves.
You have to wonder what happened to someone like that. That song sounds really great; why did she just record a few songs and disappear?
Also, 5 minutes on wikipedia has me tying that song Kevin-Bacon-degrees-of-separation style to "How to Disappear Completely".
That one is two women playing. It looks like, together, they recorded six tracks of music, and they're all on Pre-War Revenants.
With lots of them, what likely happened in one way or another was the Great Depression and WWII. Between those two events, the race record market dried up completely and the materials used to press records were diverted to the war effort. They probably either resumed performing in juke joints and bars or went back to working whatever jobs they had. In most cases, probably both.
Which doesn't really account for the people who were recording earlier and simply disappeared. It's fun to wonder what happened to them...
We have to assume that some of these folks kept recording but under different names and for different labels. Case in point: I'm fairly certain Muddy Waters' first recordings for Alan Lomax were under McKinley Morganfield. He did not become Muddy Waters until moving north. Think of all the myriad indie bands that put out a single EP and disappeared, existing now only on decaying acetate in Jared's cassette collection. How many of them never recorded again, or simply joined other musical projects? Similar situation here, they just didn't have the internet to maintain an artist's provenance.
I'm going to track down that comp, thanks for the tip.
Oh, and if you think of it, I suggest you check out The Country Blues by Samuel Charters. Charters was a British ethno-musicologist who did a deep survey of blues artists in the early 50s. Really, really fascinating book. I scored a copy in Dublin several years back and refer to it quite often. Naturally, it's a product of its time and place, but the amount of info contained in incredible.
Did anyone pick up any the Vanguard blues reissues yesterday for Record Store Day? I picked up Skip James' Devil Got My Woman, and am likely going to head back to Amoeba today to check if they still have any copies of the John Hurt LP still in stock. Doubtful, but worth a look; been loving the Vanguard reissues over the last few RSDs.
No Taj Mahal or Ry Cooder? Fuck this thread.
It feels like it would be out of place since it wasn't recorded in the fucking Dust Bowl.
For the quiet times, glass of whisky in hand, rocking chair preferable:
The best version of Leaving Trunk ever:
In the late 80's-early 90's, one of my Jersey friends used to tape for me The Hound radio show from WFMU (as much as would fit on a Maxell XL90 tape) and I would play the shit out them in my Mazda 323. Plenty of Blues, Hillbilly Blues, early Rhythm and Blues, early blues-rock, etc. all on original 45 or 78 rpm vinyl. Much of it hard to find stuff, stuff you will not hear anywhere else. The Hound and his buddies/co-hosts would read "knuckleheads in the news" stories off the AP wire and interview musicians and artists between sets .
I was delighted to discover that many of these shows have been archived on http://thehound.net
Warning: If you listen to these shows/this music in public places or home around the family, you will get strange looks initially and then, when it becomes a habit, your people may start to hate you.
Excerpted from "The Radio Hound Reveals the Ins and Outs of Dirty Records" by James 'The Hound" Marshall
Planting the Seed: Dirty Blues, the early years.
Blues in general is a lyrically limited form-- broads, booze and sex have a virtual stranglehold on the primitive blues singers' mind, give or take a cameo appearance by the devil himself, (i.e.-- the works of Robert Johnson or Peetie Wheatstraw) and filthy blues records make up a large portion of the recorded body of work. Since that immortal day when Blind Lemon Jefferson beheld his pecker and decided it had the same leathery quality as a black snake, getting the biggest hit record of his career out of it-- "Black Snake Moan" (which he recorded several times), sex on blues discs sold. The biggest blues hit of the late 20's was a rockin double entendre entitled "It's Tight Like That," written by Tampa Red and Georgia Tom (a.k.a. Thomas A. Dorsey who a few years later would zip up his pants for God and invent modern gospel music). The great Bo Carter for one, a former member of the Mississippi Sheiks made an entire career out of single entendre numbers like "Banana in Your Fruitbasket," "Mashin That Thing," "Pussycat Blues," etc. Even the old tortured soul Robert Johnson could take the time out from playing hide'n'seek with Satan to invite his honey to "squeeze my lemon baby-- 'til the juice runs down my leg" in "Traveling Riverside Blues." The only time censorship was employed was usually on the label of the record, for example, on the old standard "Dirty Mother Fucker," recorded by Roosevelt Sykes, Red Nelson and many others, the label would read "Dirty Mother Fucha" or "Dirty Mother For You," etc. Yes, the country blues was a ripe field for a man with an erection.
Women, especially the "classic" blues singers of the '20's and '30's were not immune to such crudities. In one of her more memorable performances, the great Bessie Smith moans the lack of "sugar for my bowl," inviting local men folk to indulge in the same said bowl of jelly. Little Laura Dukes recorded "Jelly Sellin' Woman," but for my money, the pinnacle of the classic blues as a form would have to be an unreleased (until the mid '70's) version of "Shave 'Em Dry" by Bessie Jackson (a.k.a. Lucille Bogan) whick included the inspired couplet:
"I got nipples on my titties as big as your thumb
I got something between my legs make a dead man come."
You can even hear the piano player goosing her.
I was listening to my Charley Patton record, which has the complete 1929 Richmond, Indiana session, tonight and marveling at how many songs on there were on Today!, the first post-revival Mississippi John Hurt album. He even plays in such a similar way that he had to have been taught by Patton, right?
What am I missing? I am not seeing any overlap. I am comparing the first 18 tracks here with this record, which contains mostly songs that Mississippi John Hurt wrote (plus a few traditional pieces).
I also read Hurt as having a gentler approach than Patton but maybe that is just superficial and they are more similar than I considered. I will have to revisit!