Nothing but ......

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Great company

A Dutch band from the late 70's (Gruppo Sportivo) once wrote a song explaining the rules for making successful Blues. The first 3 rules were:
1. Be black
2. Be blind
3. Try to see a lot of misery.
This definitely goes for some of the heroes we talked about earlier. When we turn today to Reverend Gary Davis the link with Fulton Allen (Blind Boy Fuller) and Saunders Terrel (Sonny Terry) is proof of these rules. As you may have read in earlier postings, these 3 representatives of the Piedmont worked a lot together.
Gary Davis was born in 1896 and learned to play the guitar at an early age. So he started out in Ragtime.This might be the reason for his particular 'fingerpicking' style of playing. This style, together with the more mellow approach, as compared to city Blues, makes him one of the great representatives of the Piedmont Blues, together with Sonny Terry, Blind Boy Fuller, Brownie McGhee, Mississippi John Hurt and Skip James. Gary got his nickname 'Reverend' from the fact that he was a Christian minister and showed great interest in gospel. There style of guitar playing influenced a complete generation of Blues and Pop legends (for instance Ry Cooder).
But that isn't the only thing Gary left us when he died in 1972. He also left us a bunch of wonderful compositions. Over the years these have been covered by people like: Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Jackson Brown, etc.
Today offering is a original album from 1957. That is..... This post contains 2 bonus tracks that were added later (release 1991). These tracks, however, are from the same recording sessions as the rest of the album.

1957 Pure Religion & Bad Company, part 1 & part 2

The password = "scrooge".
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nothing But The Blues XXIX

Is it coincidence? Is it fate. Which ever way....It all comes together today. Disc 29 is completely dedicated to John Lee Hooker. From Cuban Heels (August 13) I got to R. L. Burnside (yesterday). And with Burnside I wrote that he was inspired to 'pick up the guitar and play the blues' by an 1948 John Lee Hooker recording called Boogie Chillen. This particular song is reputed to inspire a complete generation of Blues players. Even Buddy Guy often told that it was this song that made him 'do the Blues'. And this wonderful song is on today disc!
As I mentioned earlier it is impossible to create something like 'the complete recordings of John Lee Hooker'. It is even impossible to create a 'definitive'. John Lee Hooker (1920 - 2001) had a recording career of over 50 years. He spent more or less the complete 60's in studio's. We worked for over 10 different labels. That John Lee Hooker. We know he used at least 7 different names as well. This has all together resulted in over 50! original album since the mid 50's. There are over 40 compilations dedicated to John Lee Hooker. I do not even dare to guess on how many different Blues-compilations he is!
With this we get the first disc in this wonderful series which doesn't have good liner notes on the recordings. As a matter of fact, the box only contains a apology. There was so much material and so little good documentation on the recordings that they didn't even try. Fact is that these are old John Lee Hooker recordings, but still the youngest recordings in this box. Hooker didn't start recording until 1948 (as far as we know!). His first single is this infamous Boogie Chillen, which was an instant hit. The Boogie Chillen on this disc is probably (!) this particular recording. But with John Lee Hooker you never know for sure.

The password = "scrooge".
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Come on in!

A little while back I had the honor of introducing you to Cuban Heels. In this introduction I told you that this wonderful band sometimes reminded me of 'a late R.L. Burnside'. It is only now that I realize that I never posted R.L. Burnside material. So it is possible that a few of you are not able to make this comparison yourself.
R. L. (Robert Lee) was born in 1926 some where in Mississippi, where he would spent the major part of his life. Robert worked as a sharecropper, supporting his considerable family. He got interested in the Blues somewhere during the early 50's, when he heard John Lee Hooker's 1948 single Boogie Chillen. So Robert picked up the guitar and started playing. During that period he moved his family to Chicago, where his brother, his uncle and his father were killed within one month. Shortly after that he moved back to Mississippi.
The oldest recordings on Robert date from 1967. But even after these recordings he had to work the land in order to sustain his family. It wasn't until the 90's, when he joined the Fat Possom label, that he got recognition of his talent. Reading up on Robert (I tend to do that while writing an blog post) I find it not surprising I heard some Burnside in Cuban Heels. Fred McDowell was Roberts teacher and Junior Kimbrough was also connected to Fat Possom and is often mentioned with Burnside.
This album is a special one. As John Lee Hookers influence is heard throughout all Roberts recordings, they all have a very strong drive and a very 'recognizable' rhythm. So in the late 90's Roberts work was used by re-mixers and samplers. And one of them (Tom Rothrock) made this album together with Robert. Although not every song is 'my thing', some of the stuff on here is brilliant!

1998 - Come On In part 1 & part 2

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Nothing But The Blues XXVIII

It seems only logical that disc 28 focuses on this third great performer from this little Piedmont Blues group: Sonny Terry.
Sonny was born as Saunders Terrel in North Carolina in 1911. In contrary to Fuller his musical examples came from his own family. His father (Reuben) was a gifted mouth organ player who taught him the secrets of this instrument when he was only 6. Saunders originally wanted to be a framer, like his father, but with two accidents (1922 and 1927) he lost the light in both eyes. As a blind boy he had to make a living as a musician. When Saunders father died in the mid twenties Saunders was more or less forced to join traveling musical companies or live as a street musician.
After his meeting with Blind Boy Fuller he became a well respected blues musician. His very first recordings are tracks 3 and 8 on our posting of yesterday. When Blind Boy Fuller died in 1941 he was 'replaced' by Brownie McGhee (disc 19 & 20). Sonny switched from Blind Boy to Brownie without any troubles. As a matter of fact. With Brownie McGhee he was probably the most successful folk / blues duo of the 40's and 50's. The most amazing part of this success might be the fact that the two more or less became the centre of the white folk scene in New York. Here they inspired and worked with people like: Leadbelly (disc 11 & 12), Woody Guthrie, Pete Seegers and Cisco Houston. Terry also worked together with Harry Belafonte.
When Sonny Terry died in 1986 he left a large audience which had to miss his 'whoops', 'hollers' and train imitations.
All the tracks on this disc date from New York 1947. On tracks 1, 5, 7, 10, and 11 the guitar is played by Brownie McGhee. The guitar on the other tracks is played by Stick McGhee (Brownie's younger brother). All the compositions are Sonny Terry's originals.

The password = "scrooge".
Please delete these files within 24 hours. If you like this music buy the album and support the industry

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thank you SRV!

I've never been much of a bootlegger. But today is an exception. Today it is 16 years ago that Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash. And, as you know....I do like SRV.
On August 27 1990, very early in the morning, the helicopter that carried Stevie from East Troy where he performed at the Alpine Valley Festival to his next gig, flew into a mountain. Stevie Ray Vaughan died instantly.
At East Troy SRV didn't only put up a hell of a show consisting of 14 songs like The things that I used to do, Pride & Joy, Crossfire and Voodoo Child, but later that evening, just minutes before his departure by helicopter, he jammed with a.o. Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and his brother Jimmy Vaughan.
The recordings of this evening, including the jam on Sweet Home Chicago, are never released. Still, at a day as today I couldn't withhold this unique material from you. So, for once....
Don't go out there and try to get this album. It doesn't exist. Don't throw these file away within 24 hours. You will find them hard to replace. Just download, listen to them and treasure them!

August 26 1990, East Troy, SRV his last recordings, part 1 & part 2

Please check also out: Couldn't stand the weather (1984) and Blues at sunrise (2000)

The password = "scrooge".

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Nothing But The Blues XXVII

This next disc is all about Blind Boy Fuller. Although.....All about?.... What this series shows is that you can not discus Blind Boy Fuller without looking (and listening) to Sonny Terry or even Brownie McGhee. With the discs 19 and 20 (about Brownie) I explained that Brownie McGhee got his recording career started as Blind Boy Fuller II. And like Blind Boy Fuller they both worked extensively with Sonny Terry.
Born as Fulton Allen in 1907 he learned to play the guitar as a boy. At the age of twenty he married a 14 year old (!) girl. One year later he got blind on both eyes. Another year later he moved to Durham where his musical career got a boost through meeting and working with Reverend Gary Davis. In 1935 he was scouted by J. B. Long and got his first recording sessions in New York for RCA.
In 1937 he met Sonny Terry. Rumor has it they both played in the same street, just on opposite sides. Ever since that day they have been working together. Blind Boy Fuller only recorded for 5 years as he died in February 1941. Leaving us with about 140 fine recordings.
The recordings on this disc reflect the close association between Fulton and Sonny. Not only are all almost all the songs Fuller of Terry originals, Sonny is on all the songs and Fuller isn't.
Tracks 3 and 8 are from 1937 New York. Tracks 1, 4, 10 and 14 are also from New York, but one year later. From the same year date the tracks 9, 19 (Columbia). Tracks 6, 7 and 12 are from Memphis (1939). Tracks 13, 15, 16, 17, 23, 25 (New York) 2, 20, 21, 22, 24 and 26 (Chicago) date from 1940. Finally tracks 5, 11 and 18 are from after Fulton died and date from 1944 / 1945 New York. A nice extra. Track 18, Lonesome Train features Sonny Terry and Woody Guthrie.

The password = "scrooge".
Please delete these files within 24 hours. If you like this music buy the album and support the industry

Sunday, August 13, 2006

No guts, no glory!

A while back a friend (Joop) told me that he liked this weblog, but....... It's all about Blues greats, famous album and 'big names'. "If you really want to share Blues with people, you should also show them the lesser-known stuff and what's happaning today! Take a risk!".
Just the other day I was browsing in a record store where I came along this album of Cuban Heels. I remembered the name from the comments I got from Joop and bought the album. And what an album it is!
Cuban Heels is a band from the east of the Netherlands. With their solid Blues-Rock sound a comparison to Cuby& the Blizzards (a famous 60's Blues-Rock formation from the same region) is easely made. But that would be selling these young man short! This is Blues-Rock with an edge! To me some songs even sound like a pleasant mixture between a late R.L. Burnside and the early Doors!
Gutbucket Music is the third album by this band. The album contains two songs by F. McDowell (tracks 2 and 9) and one by J. Kimbrough (track 11). The other eight songs are Cuban Heels originals. Although the songs all have the same 'ring' to them they are so different that it's hard to say which one is my favorite.
Please do yourself a favor. Download this, listen carefully and then go out and buy this album!

The password = "scrooge".
Please delete these files within 24 hours. If you like this music buy the album and support the industry

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Nothing But The Blues XXVI

Today we turn to another representative of 'the most important female singers'. After Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey it's time to look at Memphis Minnie. Minnie was born as Lizzie Douglas in 1897. She used several stage names before she started using Memphis Minnie, which was 'invented' for her first recording for Columbia Records in the early 20's. She got this name as she was found by a talent scout on Beale Street, Memphis. At that time she had been touring from 1916 -1920 throughout the South and been 'playing' Beale Street for a few years. After she moved to Chicago she got to work with blues greats like Tampa Red and Big Bill Broonzy. Although Minnie's roots are obviously Country Blues she was able to survive all innovations to the Blues for a period of about 30 years. As a matter of fact she is one of the unknown, but great , innovators herself. In my earlier posting on Big Bill Broonzy I stated that Big Bill was one of the first to...... Well, Minnie was the first. She wasn't only the first female artist on an electrical guitar, but she was the first to produce the 'band sound' with bass, guitar, piano and drums. With this she laid the foundation for future blues greats like Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. Minnie more or less retreated from the Blues scene in 1949. In 1957 she entered an old people's home after a heart attack, where she died in 1973. Leaving us with just over 200 recordings.
The tracks on this CD span a period of 12 years, from 1929 till 1941.
Track 1 was recorded in 1929 in New York together with her first husband Joe McCoy. Tracks 2 and 3 are also with Joe McCoy, but are from Memphis, 1930. Track 4: Chicago 1935; track 5: Chicago 1936; Track 6: same town, 1937; Tracks 7 and 8: Chicago 1940; Tracks 9,10,11 and 12 again Chicago, but 1941. Remarkable is that her, at that time former husband Joe McCoy, reappears on tracks 11 and 12. Track 2: Bumble Bee is a 1930 re-recording of her first early 20's recording on which her stage name Memphis Minnie was used for the first time.

The password = "scrooge".
Please delete these files within 24 hours. If you like this music buy the album and support the industry

Friday, August 11, 2006

Nothing But The Blues XXV

After another hectic period I've found some time to continue with this wonderful series. And what a wonderful next CD we have! Disc no. 25 is totally dedicated to Ma Rainey. With Gertrude Pridgett (1886 - 1939), as she was actually called, we return to the first generation of Blues performers.
Getrude got her nickname Ma Rainey from her marriage in 1904 with William 'Pa' Rainey. She is also known as the 'Mother of the Blues'.
Ma Rainey began her recording career in 1924, at the age of 38, and ended in 1928. In this relatively short period of time she recorded aprox. 100 songs for Paramount Records, of which C. C. Rider
, track 15 (also known as See See Rider), Jelly Bean Blues, track 11 and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom are still very popular.
although not so successful as Bessie Smith she was a close friend of her. Both on stage as of stage. She shared Bessie's extravagance lifestyle and was, like Bessie, known for her enormous bisexual appetite. Like Bessie she also recorded with some of the absolute greats from both the Blues as the Jazz scene. As a matter of fact she recorded all three earlier mentioned all time favorites with Louis Armstrong.
Tracks 7 and 9 are recorded in Chicago in August 1924, Tracks 5,8,10,11,15 and 16 are from October 1924, New York. Track 6 is recorded in November 1924 in Chicago. Tracks 3,4,13 and 14 are also recorded in Chicago, but in May the next year. Finally tracks 1, 2, and 12 date from July 1925 (Chicago).

The password = "scrooge".
Please delete these files within 24 hours. If you like this music buy the album and support the industry