FEATURED ARTIST / S
|Blind Willie Dunn's Gin Bottle Four|
Lonnie Johnson, vocal, guitar.
Victoria Spivey, vocal.
Eddie Lang, guitar.
Spencer Williams, vocal.
With contributions by: Clarence Williams, piano; J.C. Johnson, piano; Joe “King Oliver”, cornet; Hoagy Carmichael, percussion, vocal.
Genres: Blues, Blues Guitar, Jazz Guitar, Country Blues.
From this CDs booklet notes.
In March 1928, Lonnie Johnson was in San Antonio, travelling with Okeh's mobile unit, and supplying accompaniment as needed. Part way through a stint backing Texas Alexander, he took time out to make the lovely ballad I'm So Tired Of Living All Alone, and a few days later he cut a four title session which included the first version of his famous attack on pimps, Crowing Rooster Blues; as so often with Lonnie, this song also includes some jaundiced opinions on women — note his advice on the dangers of buying them silk underwear in quantity. Broken Levee Blues is an unusual song of protest about the means by which the levees along the Mississippi were maintained, a system which a few years later was called "Mississippi Slavery in 1933" by Roy Wilkins of the NAACP.
In November, Johnson made a classic version of Careless Love, and accompanied Texas Alexander for the last time, on this occasion in duet with one Salvatore Massaro. Massaro was better known as Eddie Lang, and in 1928 was aged 26. Lang had the deepest understanding of harmony in jazz, and Johnson the finest technique in blues; to consider the obvious esteem in which each man held the other; and to listen. Alongside the magnificent abstract music of Two Tone Stomp and Blue Guitars (a nod to Picasso?), Lonnie Johnson had formed another partnership, with Spencer Williams, which, if it didn't scale the same artistic heights, was to be commercially quite successful. The hottest record in the country in early 1929 was Tampa Red's "It's Tight Like That", and in It Feel So Good, Okeh had their entry to the race for soundalikes. Sam Charters is about right: "it wasn't any better than the original, but then it wasn't any worse either." One could add that, like Tampa Red, Johnson was a guitarist of exquisite clarity and logic, whatever the material; listen to his work on I Want A Little Some O' That What You Got, for instance.
A fortnight before Death Is On Your Track was cut, Lonnie Johnson was supplying a classic solo on Louis Armstrong's "Mahogany Hall Blues Stomp"; the previous December, he'd supervised Mississippi John Hurt's New York session, and shown Hurt around the town. His was a busy and successful career; if working for Okeh meant singing "Said the chicken when she ate the worm, "It makes me wiggle when you start to squirm"," he probably felt it was worth it.