Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

Document Records
Alabama Black Secular & Religious Music 1927 - 1934

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Tom Bradford
Slim Duckett and Pig Norwood
Moses Mason
Marshall Owens
Edward Thompson
Wiley Barner


Wiley Barner
01 - My gal treats me mean (but I can`t leave her alone) Listen
02 - If you want a good woman - get one long and tall Listen

Moses Mason
03 - Molly man Listen
04 - John the Baptist (take 2) Listen
05 - Go wash in the beautiful stream (take 1) Listen
06 - Christ is coming again Listen
07 - The horse paweth in the valley Listen
08 - Judgment day in the morning Listen
09 - Red cross the disciple of Christ today Listen
10 - Shrimp man Listen

Edward Thompson
11 - Showers of rain blues Listen
12 - Florida bound Listen
13 - Seven sister blues Listen
14 - Up on the hill blues Listen
15 - When you dream of muddy water Listen
16 - West Virginia blues Listen

Slim Duckett and Pig Norwood
17 - When the saints go marching in Listen
18 - Sister Mary wore three lengths of chain Listen
19 - I want to go where Jesus is Listen
20 - You gotta stand judgement for yourself Listen

Marshall Owens
21 - Texas blues Listen
22 - Try me one more time Listen

Tom Bradford
23 - Going north Listen
24 - I can`t get no hearin` from my babe Listen

DOCD-5165 Alabama Black Secular & Religious Music (1927-1934) Wiley Barner, vocal; accompanied by Jimmy allen, piano; Will Jennings, guitar. Moses Mason (Red Hot ole Man Mose, Rev. Moses Mason), vocal, guitar, banjo. Edward Thompson (Tenderfoot Edwards), vocal guitar. Slim Duckett and Pig Norwood, vocal guitar duet. Marshall Owens, vocal, guitar. Tom Bradford, vocal, guitar. Genres; Pre-warCountry Blues, Country Blues Guitar. Guitar Evangelists. Informative booklet Notes by Ken Romanowsky Detailed discography. Alabama’s significance as a region supporting a fertile blues tradition has been somewhat overshadowed by the surrounding states of Mississippi, Georgia, the Carolinas, and even Tennessee. This is partly the result of the bias of latter-day historians and record collectors who have favoured the Mississippi guitarists and partly due to the strength of other aspects of the black vernacular tradition in Alabama. Birmingham, the state’s largest city was famous for its pianists - from the mysterious “Lost John” (who was credited by Perry Bradford with introducing the bass patterns associated with boogie woogie to Chicago) through Cow Cow Davenport and Pine Top Smith to Walter Roland. Another dominant musical force in Alabama in the period between the World Wars was a vocal quartet tradition, with groups like the Birmingham Jubilee Quartet recording far more frequently than any of the area’s blues artists. Still, with its pioneering pianists, two major rural harmonica stylists (Jaybird Coleman and George “Bullet” Williams), a guitarist as recognizable as Ed Bell/Barefoot Bill, and the distinction of having some of the earliest recorded blues performers hail from the vicinity (Lucille Bogan/Bessie Jackson, and Daddy Stovepipe), it is hard to fathom why Alabama is not better known for the blues. The older styled vocalist Wiley Barner cut his two titles at the tail end of sessions recorded on location in Birmingham for the Gennett label. His piano accompanist, Jimmy Mien, quotes the turnaround riff to Charles Davenport’s “Cow Cow Blues” on his introduction to My Gal Treats Me Mean. The recordings by Moses Mason offer an interesting glimpse at some aspects of black song that were infrequently recorded. His eight titles were part of a fascinating session for Paramount in Chicago in January 1928 that captured Charlie Jackson’s pre-blues Long Gone Lost John, the archaic religious styling’s of Blind Willie Davis and the remarkable fiddle/guitar combination of Blind Joe Taggart’s “Been Listening All The Day” and “Goin’ To Rest Where Jesus Is”. Mason’s sermons have the ring of authenticity and suggest that he was a genuine preacher, and the two secular pieces, (essentially street vendors’ cries with guitar or banjo accompaniment), are also quite convincing. Nothing is known about Edward Thompson, who, both stylistically and with regard to place name references, is all over the map. Seven Sister Blues uses the generic “roll and tumble” and “new way of spelling sweet old Tennessee” verses while not once mentioning the “seven sisters” and musically would not sound out of place in Blind Boy Fuller’s repertory. Luceen (Slim) Duckett and One Leg Sam (Norwood) were residents in Jackson, Mississippi at the time of their session at the King Edward Hotel in 1930. Duckett and Norwood’s unadorned versions of the standard spirituals When The Saints Go Marching In, I Want To Go Where Jesus Is, Sister Mary Wore Three Lengths Of Chain and You Gotta Stand Judgement For Yourself succeed largely on their simplicity and the strength of the vocals. Marshall Owens’ two surviving Paramount sides are fine primitive blues performed in the hypnotic strummed manner popular with the songsters of his generation. Although the two sides recorded for the Library of Congress by Tom Bradford suffer from the omnipresent speed fluctuations that were the result of the Archive’s poor portable equipment, his hobo’s train odyssey Going North was firmly in the tradition of classic travelogues like Booker White’s “New Frisco Train” and “The Panama Limited”. The broad span of styles included in this collection should help to solidify Alabama’s place as a region rich in the tradition known as the blues.
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