FEATURED ARTIST / S
|Sonny Boy Williamson|
(4th April 1941 to 2nd July 1945)
Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.
Includes: Blind John Davis, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass; Charlie McCoy, guitar; Washboard Sam, washboard; Eddie Boyd, piano; and others...
Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
From the date of his first recordings in 1937 (Document DOCD-5055) until his death a decade later Sonny Boy Williamson was the undisputed king of the blues harmonica, at least in Chicago. Although there were plenty of other artists using the instrument only William 'Jazz' Gillum achieved anything like the popularity of the boy from Jackson, Tennessee and even Jazz could never claim the mastery that Sonny Boy underlined with every performance.
The period spanned on this Volume encompasses the bulk of World War Two and the infamous ban on recording brought about by James C. Petrillo. Petrillo became president of the Chicago local of the musician's union in 1922, and was president of the American Federation of Musicians from 1940 to 1958. Petrillo dominated the union with absolute authority. His most famous actions were banning all commercial recordings by union members from 1942 - 1944 and again in 1948 to pressure record companies to give better royalty deals to musicians. Although Sonny Boy never commented on this event he was very vocal about the conflict which he saw as a chance for the black American to both prove himself and improve his lot.
Check Up On My Baby is a rallying call track to prevent Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo from 'treatin' your baby wrong', while Win The War Blues sees Sonny Boy fantasizing that "Uncle Sam" is going to give me a Thunderbolt. The usual amount of women seems to be involved in his life and this is reflected on the tracks Mattie Mae, Stella Brown, Black Panter Blues and Desperado Woman. Panter is an American variant of panther and the description of this lethal lady is described in the lyric "You should have heard me holler, I didn't have time to swaller". In contrast to this is She Was A Dreamer. Other songs in the session include Ground Hog Blues a variant of a Tony Hollins hit called "Crawlin' King Snake" and She Don't Love Me That Way which gathers in verses associated with sources as disparate as Sleepy John and Lil Green's "Why Don't You Do Right". Another track Million Year Blues later became a hit for Eddie Boyd, whilst My Black Name Blues re-uses some lines from Leroy Carr's "Twenty Four Hours".