FEATURED ARTIST / S
Charlie Spand, vocal, piano.
With contributions by Blind Blake, guitar and possibly Josh White, guitar.
Genres: Country blues, blues piano.
Informative booklet notes by Howard Rye.
Charlie Spand's recordings have long been recognized by both blues and jazz enthusiasts as a "special vintage" of African-American music. The combination of a blues poet, notable for his carefully thought-out lyrics, with inspired piano playing is indeed irresistible, yet little has been written about him apart from a brief musical study by Bob Hall and Richard Noblett in Blues Unlimited.
On Hastings Street, named for a street in Detroit's black entertainment district and issued originally under Blake's name, the guitarist teases Spand about his homesickness for Detroit and in particular for his obsession with 169 Brady Street. This address is in the same district of Detroit and may be guessed to have been the residence of a lady in whom the pianist had an interest.
His first recording, Soon This Morning, was popular enough to justify the recording of a Soon This Morning No. 2 fifteen months later. His presence on the Hometown Skiffle sampler is a further testimony to Paramount's sales expectations.
Blake is somewhat under-recorded on Soon This Morning but comes into his own on its session mate and on the August session, which immediately preceded the recording of Hastings St. The instrumental passages on Ain't Gonna Stand For That in particular demonstrate considerable empathy. However, it has been suggested that the prominently featured guitarist on Good Gal is Josh White. The remainder of Spand's Paramount recordings feature him as a solo performer, the guitarist noted by discographers on Soon This Morning No. 2 is wholly inaudible. He addresses standard blues topics like faithless and wrong-doing women and sexual needs:
I like it in the morning, I like it late at night,
Now if I don't get my sweetbread, you know I don't feel right.
(Got To Have My Sweetbread)
Financial worries loomed and he twice alludes to the difficulty of surviving without resort to crime, in Hard Time Blues and Room Rent Blues, where he complains:
I ain't got no money, I ain't got no job,
Now if something don't happen, I'll have to steal or rob.
The jaunty and exuberant She's Got Good Stuff takes the pianist into hokum territory with a song credited to "Lamoore", a name which appears on forty-odd Paramounts of the era. It may conceal the identity of a member of the A&R staff, or sharp practice.
Spand's Paramount career ended with the doom-laden Evil Woman Spell. He re-emerged briefly to record for OKeh in 1940. Rumours of subsequent sightings in California appear to be just rumours.