FEATURED ARTIST / S
Charley Patton, vocal, guitar, bottleneck slide-guitar.
Includes performances by Henry Sims.
Genres: Mississippi Country Blues, Delta Blues, Country Blues Guitar.
Extensive, detailed booklet notes by Bob Groom.
Patton is considered, with some justification, to be the archetypal, Mississippi Delta blues singer / guitarist. His guitar playing, including his bottleneck slide guitar technique, coupled with his gritty vocal delivery created a mixture of some of the most primitive yet sublime recordings to be made in the "pre-war blues" era. Many of his recorded performances are so powerful as to be unsurpassed within the genre. At the same time he had an overpowering presence that embodied the very essence of the Mississippi Blues. Equally, he can well be thought of as a songster, in view of his wide-ranging repertoire of blues, ballads, rags, spirituals and popular songs that he displays on his recordings which are presented on Document's three volumes of Charley Patton's recordings. Certainly, he was a showman and entertainer whose live performances could be sombre, melancholy, intense or humorous. Yet he differs from his "songster" contemporaries like Mississippi John Hurt and Mance Lipscomb in that he used solid blues as a vehicle for an intensely personal musical expression. These three volumes present all of his issued recordings. His original 78 rpm records are extremely rare. In many cases there are only single known copies which are now the prized possessions of collectors.
Volume one is full Patton classics beginning with the stunning Mississippi Boweavil Blues with Charley increasing the speed of the tempo to fever pitch, gasping at the end of his lines and playing frenetic slide guitar, lap style, hitting the notes perfectly way beyond the twelfth fret. There's certainly no hint of debut performance nerves here. Spoonful Blues demonstrates another remarkable slide guitar performance and there is little wonder that the song was picked up by many others such as his great admirer Howling Wolf (Chester Burnett) and 1960's British super group; Cream led by Eric Clapton. The ragtime showpiece Shake It and Break It is a lively affair and conjures up the image of Charley doing the "clowning" during his live performances that so appalled his friend Son House. This entailed Charley playing his guitar behind his back and between his legs. Jimi Hendrix was doing exactly the same thing forty years later, though its not known that Charlie set light to his guitar! The CD covers all of Charley2s first session for Paramount and the first six recordings made for Paramount in late 1929 on which he is accompanied by the violin player Henry Simms who can also be found accompanying Muddy Waters on Library of Congress Recording made in Mississippi thirteen years later (Document DOCD-5146 'Muddy Waters (1941 - 1946)').