FEATURED ARTIST / S
Lonnie Johnson, vocal, guitar.
Includes duets with:
Eddie Lang, guitar.
Spencer Williams, vocal.
Victoria Spivey, vocal.
Clarence Williams, vocal.
With contributions by: J. Johnson, piano.
Genres: Blues, Blues Guitar, Jazz Guitar, Blues Piano.
Informative booklet notes written by Chris Smith.
From this CDs booklet notes.
Through 1929, Lonnie Johnson continued to explore three musical fields on record. With Eddie Lang, he pushed at the frontiers of jazz guitar with the tone poem Bull Frog Moan, displays of technique such as Hot Fingers and the yearning, pop-structured Blue Room. At the same time, he was cranking out third and fourth parts to It Feels So Good with Spencer Williams, and in a more adult, but still hokumbased vein, duetting with Victoria Spivey on a composition that much later became a favourite of B. B. King's. In June, he also made a six title session of blues. It's dangerous to read autobiography into blues lyrics too readily, especially with so facile a writer as Lonnie Johnson, but it's almost impossible to resist the suspicion that the tenor of most of the songs cut on 11 June 1929 denotes a marriage in trouble. Lonnie and Mary Johnson's marriage lasted until 1932, by which time they had had six children in seven years; but these songs, by turns deeply depressed, suspicious and angry, surely do not bespeak domestic contentment. The 1925 version of Falling Rain Blues had used rain as a metaphor for misery, and it's surprising that the new version is about floods; the remade Mr. Johnson's Blues is an extended lyric about the unhappiness of lost love, where in 1925 had it consisted of one verse, followed by an extended guitar solo. Of these sad songs, Sundown Blues is intriguing; it had been recorded the previous November by one Alec Johnson. In the notes to RST BDCD-6013, I speculated that Alec might have been the father of Memphis Minnie's brother-in-law; this version of Sundown Blues leads one to ask whether he was related to Lonnie, perhaps via Tommy Johnson's father, Idell, who was a connection of Lonnie's. Most likely, as Tommy's brothers don't seem to have recalled Alec Johnson, is that Lonnie just heard and liked the record, whose sentimental words are close to his own emotional aesthetic.