Friday, November 10, 2017

Classic Blues Artwork From the 1920s - Vol. 15

Various Artists
Classic Blues Artwork From the 1920s - Vol. 15
Blues Images

John Tefteller's annual Calendar with accompanying CD of remastered rare 78s is certainly one that blues fans will want. The Calendar has each month illustrated with reproductions of original advertisements from African-American newspapers of the time, or rare photos of the artists (in this case newly discovered images of Johnny Temple and Isaiah Nettles also known as The Mississippi Moaner).  There are songs by the performers that are the subject of the illustrations, along with brief comments on the performers and the recordings. There also is a selection of birth and death dates for selected blues artists as part of the Calendar.

In addition to these twelve selections that tie to the Calendar, there are twelve bonus selections that include  the other sides for some of the 78s along with other rarities. This is the third straight year that he has employed the technology that was employed on the recent American Epic PBS television series, and reissue recordings associated with that series, to remaster original 78s (generally the best existing copy which usually are from his own collection) to present the music with the best possible sound.

Their are some terrific music to be heard here starting with Memphis Minnie's debut as she sings "Frisco Town" that was originally issued as by Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie. Several of my favorite recordings are here including Blind Lemon Jefferson's superb "Hot Dogs"; Blind Willie Johnson's magnificent song inspired by the sinking of Titanic, "God Moves on the Water" and Charlie Patton recordings "Screamin' and Hollerin' The Blues" (and the other side of this is a bonus track and equally good, "Mississippi Boweavil Blues." Blind Blake's "Hard Road Blues," may not be his best known song but a typically fine performance of this masterful guitarist and singer. Blake is also heard backing Bertha Henderson on "Lead Hearted Blues."

It is certainly nice to hear a much cleaner remastering of the rare Tommy Johnson coupling "Slidin' Delta" and "I Wonder To Myself," on which he plays kazoo. The Beale Street Sheiks (Frank Stokes and Dan Sane) are present in the solid "Wasn't That Doggin' Me," while "The Evil Devil Blues" by Johnny 'Geechie' Temple is a terrific cover of Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman." Then there is the Mississippi Moaner's superb "Its Cold in China," a recording Johnny Shines reworked as "So Cold in Vietnam," three decades later. Also related to the images on the Calendar are a novelty by Tampa Red and Georgia Tom, "Strewin' Your Mess," along with a gospel performance Rev. Steamboat Bill's Revival Singers, "Happy As The Day Is Long."

I have mentioned a few of the bonus tracks which include Blind Lemon's "Weary Dog Blues," the flip side to "Hot Dogs "; Johnny Temple's "Jacksonville Blues," (a superb selection that was the flip to "Evil Devil Woman Blues"); and Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie's "Goin' Back To Texas," which is an actual vocal duet and musically even better than "Frisco Town." Other selections include a superb pair from St. Louis artist, 'Hi' Henry Brown with the great Charlie Jordan also on guitar, ("Brown Skin Angel" and "Hospital Blues"), and a spectacular couple from Sam Butler under the name Bo Weavil Jackson ("The Devil and My Brown" and "You Can't Keep No Brown"). The Memphis Jug Band (coming off like a skiffle band) is heard backing pianist jab Jones on a pair of songs that were thought to have been lost as well as backing Charlie Nickerson on an excellent and ebullient "Going Back to Memphis."

Once again John Tefteller has produced a remarkable Blues Calendar and fabulous reissue CD. This year's Calendar also includes some observations from Bernard MacMahon, one of the creators of the PBS film documentary "American Epic." Among his observations are "These recordings represent some of the most powerful, sociologically important music of the early blues era.They are especially relevant in these parlous times when hard-won freedoms are sorely threatened." Also, these recordings have never sounded better on this latest Blues Calendar, which can be obtained from and online retailers. It certainly makes for a wonderful gift for the blues lover on your holiday gift list.

I purchased this from Blues Iamges.

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