Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

Document Records
Mississippi Sheiks Vol 2: 17th February to 12th June 1930

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Mississippi Sheiks


Mississippi Sheiks
01 - Sitting on top of the world no. 2 Listen
02 - Your good man caught the train and gone Listen
03 - Times done got hard Listen
04 - Unhappy blues Listen
05 - Still I`m traveling on Listen
06 - Honey babe let the deal go down Listen
07 - She ain`t no good Listen
08 - Ramrod blues Listen
09 - Stop and listen blues no. 2 Listen
10 - Church bell blues Listen
11 - Please don`t wake it up Listen
12 - Please baby Listen
13 - Things about comin` my way Listen
14 - The world is going wrong Listen
15 - She`s a bad girl Listen
16 - Tell me what the cats fight about Listen
17 - Kind treatment Listen
18 - Livin` in a strain Listen
19 - Lazy lazy river Listen
20 - Too long Listen

Mississippi Sheiks
Includes; Walter Vincson, vocal, guitar; Lonnie Chatman, violin.
Genres: String band, Mississippi blues, Country Blues.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.
Taken from this album's booklet notes:
In December 1930 the Sheiks were in Jackson, Mississippi, near to their home, when the Okeh field unit came by. Walter Vinson. Many of the numbers cut in are distinctly lowdown and blue. The Sheiks remade their two hits, Sitting On Top Of The World and Stop And Listen, with new lyrics as powerful as the originals, and Still I'm Travelling On was also closely related to the former title. Times Done Got Hard was about the Depression, and Unhappy Blues has a remarkable lyric about imprisonment. Honey Babe Let The Deal Go Down may have been prompted by a record company request for a version of "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues", by the white, Old-Timey artist Charlie Poole. If so, it's evident that the Sheiks weren't familiar with Poole's song, but they nevertheless produced a fine blues from the given title. She Ain't No Good, with its scurrilous comments on the alleged ways of country girls, is in the lighter vein of hokum, but Vinson was back to blues for the rest of the session. Ramrod Blues mines the Sheiks' rich vein of sexual metaphor, perhaps instigated by Bo, and Church Bell Blues, like Stop and Listen, drew its inspiration from a funeral, a topic to which Vinson returned with a frequency that seems literally morbid, but one which often evoked inspired guitar playing from him.
In October 1931, the Sheiks and Bo Carter were on the road again, travelling to Atlanta for a recording session which Bo remembered as one of the rare occasions on which he got drunk along with the others. Walter explored his obsessions, a fascinated disgust with body odour; Please Don't Wake It Up and She's A Bad Girl (Dozens-based, but heavily expurgated) are concerned with this unusual subject, which he had earlier sung about in "You Got To Keep Things Clean" as "Sam Hill from Louisville" on Brunswick (see Document BDCD-6013). On that occasion, Vinson also recorded Things About Comin' My Way, a reworking of "Sitting On Top Of The World" which he remade here.
If "Things About Comin' My Way" was optimistic about the resolution of troubles, the same can't be said of Livin' In A Strain, whose dissonant opening, which may have prevented its being issued at the time, seems very appropriate to the disturbing lyrics about a psychological burden that "will take me two years to understand", and which causes Vinson to be shunned by his friends, and to plan both to change his name and to leave town. All in all, and despite the more light-hearted numbers, this was a session at which a kind of obscure unhappiness predominated; Kind Treatment, for instance, which also features some remarkable harmonic ideas, refers to being in jail in Bolton, the Sheiks' hometown, but it's far from clear who is personified as Kind Treatment. Lazy Lazy River comes as a contrast of mood, therefore, as well as of style. Doubtless inspired by Hoagy Carmichael's "Up A Lazy River", it seems, like Honey Babe Let The Deal Go Down, was a response to a request for a song that the Sheiks didn't know. They weren't about to let a minor obstacle like that get in the way, and this charming 32-bar pop song was the result. With Too Long, which later became a favourite of their friend Charlie McCoy, the Sheiks completed a ten song session, and one at which all the first takes were accepted; one suspects that Okeh didn't really need to get Lonnie Chatmon and Walter Vinson drunk to persuade them to give of their best.
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