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Charlie (Specks) McFadden 1929 - 1937

Charlie “Specks” McFadden was not destined to become famous, but at the time he made his debut recordings in 1929, he was considered one of the top blues-oriented singers based in St. Louis.

A good friend of Roosevelt Sykes, who plays piano on 12 of the 20 selections included on this CD, McFadden was a fine blues singer. He had a minor hit with Groceries on the Shelf which has three versions included on this disc. Apparently, McFadden was quite a character, being arrested 13 times during 1929-1935, including ten times for gambling, which gives credibility to his version of Gambler’s Blues. Continued...

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Roosevelt Sykes Vol 8 1945 - 1947

Volume eight in the complete recordings of Roosevelt Sykes as reissued by Document covers his Victor/Bluebird output from 1945 through October 1947. During this portion of his lengthy career, Sykes brought in some of Chicago's toughest sessionmen, including a brace of horn players who fortified the texture of his act and summoned a jazz element that blended well with his steadily ripening approach to blues and boogie-woogie. Sykes' saxophonists on this collection have been identified as J.T. Brown, Bill Casimir, Calmes Julian, Oett "Sax" Mallard, Martin Rough, and Leon Washington. He also used trumpeters Lucius Henderson and Johnny Morton, as well as a clarinetist by the name of Johnny Walker, and quite an assortment of guitarists, bassists, and drummers. Sykes, who made his first recordings in 1929 and continued to perform until shortly before his death in 1983, was most often heard as soloist or leader of small rhythm combos. That makes his bristly post-war sessions all the more intriguing, as wind instruments add extra layers to his already substantial weave of visceral vocals and double-fisted piano. – arwulf arwulf.


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Roosevelt Sykes Vol 9 1947 - 1951

Document’s ninth volume devoted to the complete chronologically reissued works of Roosevelt Sykes covers a four-year period beginning in November 1947 and combines 20 Victor, Bullet, and Regal recordings with four titles that feature Kentucky-born guitarist John Brim and his wife Grace, a convincing singer who is also heard playing drums and harmonica. A perusal of the other identified participants reveals a healthy contingent of seasoned Chicago sessionmen, including trumpeter Johnny Morton, saxophonists Bill Casimir, Walter Broadus, and Oett “Sax” Mallard; guitarists Willie Lacey and Emmanuel Sayles; bassists Ransom Knowling and J.C. Bell, as well as drummers Judge Riley, P.F. Thomas, and Armand “Jump” Jackson.

By the time he cut eight sides for Regal in 1949, Sykes had been making records for a full 20 years. Unfazed by changing patterns in pop culture, he matured with dignity by assimilating some of what was in the air and subjecting it to his well-established, straightforward approach to singing and playing the blues. What you get in this package is a fascinating prologue to his adventures in the ’50s (see volume 10) and his extraordinary comeback in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and early ‘80s. – arwulf arwulf


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Roosevelt Sykes Vol 10 1951 - 1957

Roosevelt Sykes Vol 10 12th July 1951 to 1957.
Roosevelt Sykes, vocal, piano, celeste.
With contributions by: Robert Nighthawk, guitar; Ransom Knowling, bass; Fred Below, drums;
Remo Beondi, violin; And others…
Genre; 1950s Chicago Blues, New Orleans Blues, Blues Piano.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith
Includes detailed discography.
As the fifties began, Roosevelt Sykes was recording for United, a Chicago independent owned by black businessman Leonard Allen. July 12 1951 was United Records’ first recording day, and Sykes was on hand, both to back J. T. Brown and Robert Nighthawk and to play the small group jump blues he’d been cutting for Victor in the forties. On his own session that day Robert Nighthawk seized the chance to play his gorgeous brand of slide guitar blues, but behind Sykes he displays his remarkable versatility, playing big, jazzy chords. All Sykes’ masters from this session were issued and they are all quite successful, with “Sax” Mallard and “Sax” Crowder producing fierce, preaching tones, or playing in more lyrical vein as required.

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Piano Blues, the essential DOUBLE CD
This double CD is compiled of some of the most influential Piano blues artists of the pre-war era including Turner Parish, Pinetop Smith, Roosevelt Sykes, Little Brother Montgomery and many more.

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Roosevelt Sykes, the essential DOUBLE CD
The thirty-five sides in this collection, taken from the Document Catalogue, represent the cream of the pianist Roosevelt Sykes' recordings between 1929 and 1941. Besides working for a variety of labels, Sykes used pseudonyms to avoid contractual complications. Among them, represented in this collection are; Dobby Bragg, Willie Kelly, St Louis Jimmy and most famously, The Honey Dripper, this nickname was acquired whilst he a young man because of his reputation with the ladies!

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Rude Dudes - Part 2 Of Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey

Double CD.
Various Artists.
Informative, 12 page, full colour illustrated, booklet notes by Neil Slaven & Bill Wyman.
Detailed Discography.

Banana In Your Fruit Basket, If It Don't Fit Don't Force It and He's Just My Size? Well, no prizes for guessing what they're all about. But what is a Southern Can, who is the Boy in the Boat and why a Man O' War? This excellent double CD, with twelve page full colour booklet, is packed with some of the most intriguing and often humorous Hokum, Blues, Jazz and Boogie-Woogie pieces based on the subject of sex. Outrageous double entendres and curious metaphors are abound. If Bananas, Lollypops, Fish and Jelly be the food of love, then play on! Continued...

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Blues, Blues Christmas 1925 - 1955

Various artists
Double album with full colour 20 page booklet by Jeff Harris.
Detailed discography

The idea of Christmas themed blues and gospel numbers stretches back to the very dawn of the recorded genres. Hooray for Christmas exclaims Bessie Smith to kick off her soon to be classic At The Christmas Ball, which inaugurated the Christmas blues tradition when it was recorded in November 1925 for Columbia. A year later, circa December 1926, the gospel Christmas tradition was launched when the Elkins-Payne Jubilee Singers recorded Silent Night, Holy Night for Paramount Records. After these recordings it was off to the races with numerous Christmas blues numbers recorded by singers of all stripes, a pace that continued as blues evolved into R&B and then rock and roll. Continued...

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Kokomo Arnold Vol 2 1935 - 1936

Kokomo Arnold Vol 2 1935 - 1936

Kokomo Arnold, vocal, bottleneck-slide guitar.

Genres: Country Blues, Country Blues guitar, bottleneck-slide-guitar, Georgia blues, Chicago blues.

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.

Detailed discography

By 1935 Kokomo Arnold was firmly ensconced in Chicago. He was still a country boy to many of his associates but, never an unworldly man; he was quickly getting wise to the big city and its ways. Despite his dedication to his basement bootlegging business and a strong desire to "go fishing instead" he had become a fixture on the local entertainment scene, working beside most of the big names in the blues at that time.

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Roosevelt Sykes Vol 1 1929 - 1930

Roosevelt Sykes, vocal, piano.

With contributions by;
Mae Belle Miller (probably Bessie Mae Smith, “St. Louis Bessie”), vocal.
Bee Turner, vocal.

Genres: Piano Blues. Pre-War Blues.

Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.

Next time someone voices the goofball opinion that blues is simply too depressing to embrace, sit 'em down and expose 'em to a heady dose of Roosevelt Sykes. If he doesn't change their minds, nothing will. There was absolutely nothing downbeat about this roly-poly, effervescent pianist (nicknamed "Honeydripper" for his youthful prowess around the girls), whose lengthy career spanned the pre-war and post-war eras with no interruption whatsoever. Sykes' romping boogies and hilariously risqué lyrics (his double-entendre gems included "Dirty Mother for You," "Ice Cream Freezer," and "Peeping Tom") characterize his monumental contributions to the blues idiom. He was a pioneering piano pounder responsible for the seminal pieces "44 Blues," "Driving Wheel," and "Night Time Is the Right Time." Continued...

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