FEATURED ARTIST / S
|'Kansas Joe' McCoy|
Kansas Joe (Joe McCoy), vocal, guitar.
Memphis Minnie, vocal guitar.
With contributions by: Memphis Jug Band: Will Shade, harmonica; Charlie Burse, guitar; Hambone Lewis, jug.
Genres: Country Blues, Memphis Blues, Country Blues Guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Alan Balfour.
From this albums booklet notes:
Recording as "Kansas Joe" and "Memphis Minnie" at their 1929 debut recording session the couple cut six numbers, three featuring Kansas Joe as a vocalist, two with Minnie taking the vocals and the third found them duetting. These recordings weren't afforded immediate issue but were released over a period of time. For example, the coupling Bumble Bee / I Want That was not on sale until some fifteen months later. It was to be the suggestive "Bumble Bee" ("Got the best stinger I've ever seen") that was to make Memphis Minnie. So successful was the song that Victor "borrowed" Minnie to record a version fronting a caucus of the Memphis Jug Band. Vocalion then responded with Bumble Bee No. 2 and New Bumble Bee. The song was such hot property on the race market that in the last six months of 1930, unreleased recordings apart, there were no fewer than five versions, on three different labels, of "Bumble Bee" — three of which are present on this compilation.
The sheer drive of the two guitars, the strength of imagery and intuitive awareness of one another's musical needs made for a perfect team. Take a song like, When The Levee Breaks, that lyrically mirrors the harsh realities of living near the artificial river banks with lines like, "If it keep on raining, levee's gonna break an' all these people have no place to stay" whilst the twin guitar rhythms help create a complete fusion of feeling. On less intense, more hokum based numbers like She Wouldn't Give Me None or Can I Do It For You a variant on the "Mama Let Me Lay It On You" theme) the duo display astonishing empathy in their guitar playing, most notably by Minnie. To quote guitarist Woody Mann on her technique "she seemed to be able to pick sounds from all around Memphis and integrate them into her playing". As main vocalist Minnie can be heard on Mister Tango Blues and I'm Talking About You and give good insight into her ability to modulate her voice to suit the mood of the lyric. Whether it be slow meaningful blues or up-tempo lighter material she judiciously croaks, moans, twists and cracks her voice to achieve a fine sense of the dramatic.