Thursday, March 06, 2014

Jackson Stomp: The Charlie McCoy Story

Nehi is a new English label devoted to reissues of pre-World War II country blues and takes it name from an American manufacturer of soda drinks that also served as part of the name for a pianist and clarinetist, The New Orleans Nehi Boys, that backed Ishmon Bracey and Tommy Johnson on some Paramount Recordings. Amongst the first releases on this label is a compilation, Jackson Stomp: The Charlie McCoy Story. Charlie McCoy was an important member of the Jackson, Mississippi blues scene who later moved to Chicago who was a versatile multi-instrumentalist playing mandolin as well as guitar, and is famous today as much as an accompanist as he is as a leader.

Jackson Stomp contains 26 recordings on which McCoy made a significant contribution. Opening with his beautiful slide playing and vocal on the opening Last Time Blues, selections include his marvelous mandolin behind Tommy Johnson on the beautiful Cool Drink of Water Blues (with its line “I asked her for water and she gave me gasoline”); Ishmon Bracey’s Leaving Town Blues; a duet with Bo Chatman (Bo Carter) on which McCoy takes the vocal for the definitive Corrine Corrina; and East Jackson Blues with Chatman on vocal and adding Walter Vinson. Vinson and McCoy as the Mississippi Mud Steppers did Jackson Stomp, a remarkable instrumental take on Cow Cow Blues while McCoy, accompanied by Bo Chatman did a vocal rendition as That Lonesome Train That Took My Baby Away. Both renditions featured McCoy’s mandolin.

McCoy made a number of recordings as The Mississippi Mudder with a variety of accompanists including pianist Chuck Segar as well as accompanied his brother Kansas Joe McCoy. Another important session he played on was Johnny Temple’s Lead Pencil Blues (It Just Won’t Write). McCoy introduced the guitar riff that Robert Johnson would employ on Sweet Home Chicago. After his brother Kansas Joe split from Memphis Minnie, Charlie and his brother joined with some jazz musicians in the Harlem Hamfats whose mix of blues and jazz was a very popular recording group and can be heard (Joe taking the vocal) on its most famous recording, Oh Red, which was covered by a number of other artists. A few other recordings by McCoy (Papa Charlie’s Boys) are mixed in with him backing slide guitar wizard Casey Bill Weldon; pianist Curtis Jones; Memphis Minnie’ pianist Monkey Coleman; and harmonica legend Sonny boy Williamson (on the superb Black Panther Blues).

Sound on the various selections on Jackson Stomp varies based on the source materials which may be prior reissues. Some selections are from clean copies while others may have a minor amount of frying bacon sounds in the background but this hopefully will be a minor distraction to the vocals and music which is reasonable well produced. In the handsome liner booklet, Robert Beecher provides a lengthy essay on McCoy and the recordings in chronological manner although the recordings are not presented in such fashion. There is also full discographical information on the recordings. One notable typo in the booklet involves the misspelling of Cook County Hospital, where that both brothers Charlie and Joe hospitalized at the end of the end of their lives.

Jackson Stomp is quite an enjoyable reissue that contains some superb early blues recordings and should lead to Charlie McCoy’s multi-faceted contributions to the blues being given wider recognition. Charlie McCoy (and brother Kansas Joe) belongs in the Blues Hall of Fame.

I purchased this. Here is Charlie McCoy's
That Lonesome Train That Took My Baby Away.


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