Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar.
With contributions from: Black Bob, piano; Jazz Gillum, vocal, harmonica; Carl Martin, guitar; Zeb Wright, violin; Louis Lasky, guitar; and others.
Genres: Blues, Early Chicago blues, blues guitar, blues harmonica.
Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
From this album's booklet notes.
Prior to the recordings presented here Bill had worked with Georgia Tom Dorsey to produce one of the many successful guitar/piano combinations that were so popular in the wake of Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, the latter being a man to whom Bill gave a lot of attention. They had worked with Jane Lucas and the results were nothing like the blues and stomps of Bill's first appearances in the recording studios. Following this he had formed an alliance with pianist Black Bob with whom he worked the clubs and recorded. Along with Bob he would join with a group of other humble toilers in the local entertainment industry to produce the State Street Boys.
At this stage such groups rarely featured the trumpets and clarinets that they later inherited from The Harlem Hamfats and had not yet sunk into the moribund repeated celebration of it being "tight like that, beedle um bum". One commentator has pointed out that apart from the use of a string bass in lieu of drums the two-guitar line-up of Bill and Carl Martin; the harmonica of Jazz Gillum and Black Bob's piano equates with the basic make-up of the classic post war Chicago bar bands. This may be so but the addition of Zeb Wright's harshly scraped violin and the choice of material denies such comparisons. Bill and Jazz shared the vocals with Jazz taking the lead on Crazy About You and the two train songs Midnight Special and Mobile And Western Line. They split a bowdlerised version of The Dozen between them, which never reaches the acerbic level of the exchanges for which the game was designed. Indeed there is something of a "parlour" feel to all the Boy's recordings, probably due to Wright's violin work, which even aspires to pizzicato on The Dozen. However this is balanced somewhat by Bill's vocal on She Caught The Train:
Some low-down man learned my baby how to Cadillac 8
Ever since she learned that position I can't keep my business straight.
Don't Tear My Clothes has a long history that included versions by Big Joe Turner and Smokey Hogg before Bob Dylan took it over as 'Baby Let Me Follow You Down' and bequeathed it to The Animals in the mid-sixties.
Bill was also using Black Bob for recordings under his own name and it is almost certainly that adroit ivory agitator working so well on Southern Blues and the up-tempo Good Jelly which includes the wonderful observation that "It's a sin and a shame; it's a sin when you can get it and a shame when you can't". Bill's guitar is well to the fore on these skilful collaborations.
Another of Bill's friends was the under-recorded Louis Lasky, from whom he is alleged to have taken some of his guitar style, and it is probably that individual working with Bill on the justly acclaimed C And A Blues. The blues staple 'Sitting On Top Of The World' forms the basis of You May Need My Help a title, and idea that later found an echo in the work of Bill's most famous protege, Muddy Waters.