Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Blueskvarter made Blues History Available

The following was a review of the 3rd double CD in a series that an offshoot of the Swedish blues magazine, Jefferson, released in the earlier part of this decade. The review below was written in 2004 and may have appeared in Jazz & Blues Report. I purchased this recording.

The Scandinavian Blues Association has issued on its Jefferson Records, I Blueskvarter * 1964, Volume Three. This is the third double disc volume in the series which makes available recordings that the Swedish Broadcasting Company made in Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans in 1964 that was broadcast in autumn 1964. The first two volumes were devoted to recordings from Chicago and included recordings by such legendary figures as Sunnyland Slim, Little Brother Montgomery, Johnny Young, Walter Horton, Willie Mabon, Johnny Young, Washboard Sam and Paul Butterfield (on what were Butterfield's first recordings). This volume includes New Orleans recordings by Snooks Eaglin and Babe Stovall and Memphis recordings by Johnny Moment, Will Shade, Furry Lewis, Earl Bell and Moose Williams with the second disc containing extra recordings from Mabon, Sunnyland Slim, Walter Horton, and Johnny Young among others before concluding with three 1961 recordings by Big Joe Williams and then from Champion Jack Dupree recorded in performance and conversation in Sweden. This is a varied set of music opening with Snooks Eaglin performing ten numbers in a vein similar to his early recordings as a 'street singer' although the opening Yours Truly, a Pee Wee Crayton song he had recorded for Imperial as a R&B artist. Few could pull off PInetop's Boogie Woogie on guitar like Snooks can and other songs he provides his unique skills to include My Babe, Let Me Go Home Whisky, and Hello Dolly. Babe Stovall, who also was resident in New Orleans presents some more down home blues on his four songs that includes renditions of Candy Man and Gonna Move to Kansas City. The first Memphis selections are by harmonica Johnny Moment, whose rendition of Keep Our Business to Yourself, is heavily indebted to Rice 'Sonny Boy Williamson II' Miller. He also backs legendary jug band musician Will Shade on a slow I Got the Blues So Bad, Furry lewis has sounded better than on Baby, I Know You Don't Love Me, which does have moments of nice slide guitar. Traditional Mississippi blues are represented by one Earl Bell who does a competent cover Robert Johnson's Terraplane Blues. The selections from Chicago supplement recordings by these artists that are on the first two volumes in this series. Willie Mabon delivers a strong Somebody's Got to Pay, while piano blues are also represented by Sunnyland Slim on Leroy Carr's Prison Bound and Little Brother Montgomery who reprises his immortal Vicksburg Blues. Walter Horton, accompanied by Robert Nighthawk on guitar is heard on three numbers including a nicely delivered Tin Pan Alley. Two early recordings by Paul Butterfield with Smokey Smothers on guitar include One Room Country Shack, while Johnny Young is backed by Slim Willis on harp and Otis Spann on piano for You Got Bad Blood, I Think You Need a Shot. The Joe Williams performances are typically fine and are followed by a Swedish broadcast of Dupree and Olie Helander in which Dupree recalls growing up, his big influence and other matters along with a rendition of his Drive 'em Down Special, as well as Leroy Carr's Barrelhouse Woman. In addition to being a great pianist, Dupree was a marvelous conversationalist. As with the first two volumes, there are copious notes that discuss the artists and how the recordings were made. This is an invaluable addition to the body of downhome blues of this time. This is an important musical document and contains some very strong performances by artists who have mostly passed away. The Swedish Blues Alliance is to be thanked for the over six hours of vintage blues music that they have made available in this series. You probably can only obtain these by mail order, and I would suggest contacting either Bluebeat Music at www.bluebeatmusic.com or Triangle Music at www.triangle-music.com for information on obtaining these. Its too bad that Olie Helander only did a radio documentary of the blues forty years ago, because the musical legacy of this radio series stands tall compared to the recent over-hyped Martin Scorcese PBS series on the blues.

Bluebeat Music shows the three volumes of this series as still available.

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