FEATURED ARTIST / S
|Sonny Boy Williamson|
(5th May 1937 to 17th June 1938)
Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.
With contributions by: Big Joe Williamson, guitar; Robert (Nighthawk) Lee McCoy, guitar; Walter Davis, piano; Henry Townsend, guitar; Yank Rachell, guitar and others...
Genres: Blues, Blues Harmonica, Chicago Blues, Urban Blues.
Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
In a brief life of thirty four years Sonny Boy Williamson achieved immortality as the pioneer of what was to become part of the post war electric sound of the Chicago Blues. To allow the harmonica, sometimes described as a 'semi-legitimate' instrument, to compete in a band environment, with drums, usually a piano and recently amplified guitars Sonny Boy literally embraced the microphone along with the harmonica to great effect. Often he would dove-tailing and blend the sound of the instrument with the beginning or end his songs lines. His popularity and influence were immense and survive until today. His techniques paved the way for many blues artists, including Sonny Boy (Rice Miller) Williamson, Little Walter, Junior Wells and many others. This, the first of five remarkable volumes from Document of the complete recordings of the father of amplified blues harmonica, demonstrates how Sonny Boy Williamson 1st brought the instrument from the country to the city and turned the small, pocket sized instrument into a major voice in the blues.
In 1934 Sonny Boy moved to north to Chicago where he worked Maxwell Street and as a sideman with numerous blues groups at the local clubs. Sonny Boy's first recordings (that feature on this CD) were accompanied by Big Joe Williams and Robert Lee McCoy (later to become famous as Robert Nighthawk) was made at the Leland Hotel, Aurora, Illinois, on the 5th May 1937 for the Bluebird label. The first track, Good Morning, School Girl, was not an unknown tune but Sonny Boy brought to it a set of lyrics that have stayed with it ever since. His attractive short tongued delivery and clean swinging harp playing became a hit and has since become a much recorded blues classic tune. Other tracks in this first session include the personal Blue Bird Blues dedicated to Sonny Boy's wife Lacey Belle, and the perennial Sugar Mama Blues.
Sonny Boy went on to record another session in November 1937, Black Gal Blues from this set has become known as "Wild About You Baby", while Early In The Morning was a reworking of the number usually associated with pianist Walter Roland.
It is probably an indication of the interest in their new found star that the Bluebird label offered Sonny Boy another session in March 1938, which saw 10 songs being cut. Tracks from this session include My Little Cornelious (which is another version of "Blue Bird Blues") and the reflective masterpiece Decoration Day, a markedly up-beat version of "You Can Lead Me". The Mandolin of Yank Rachell fills out the sound on this set and lends a brittle driving force to the faster numbers. The fastest, I'm Tired Trucking My Blues Away sees Big Joe Williams guitar setting a furious pace behind Sonny Boy's virtuoso Harmonica playing. This track really rocks and is an indication of the direction in which Sonny Boy Williamson the 1st was to take his music over the next few years.