Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

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Frank Stokes The Complete Victor Recordings 1928 - 1929

Frank Stokes vocal, guitar
Memphis, country blues.
Includes; Dan Sane, guitar; Will Batts, violin.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith
Detailed discography.

With nearly forty songs issued on record, some of them in two parts, Frank Stokes was one of the most extensively recorded of the Memphis blues singers of the 1920s; only Jim Jackson's total of recordings is comparable, and many of Jackson's were remakes of 'Kansas City Blues'�. Like Jackson, Stokes blends blues with songs from the medicine shows and from the ragtime days of his childhood. Not only was his repertoire one of the most interesting of its time, it was superbly sung, and backed, whether solo, in partnership with Dan Sane, or with Will Batts, by some of the most accomplished and appropriate blues and ragtime playing on record. Continued...




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Memphis Blues Vol. 1 (1928 - 1935)

Recordings by;
Robert Wilkins, vocal, guitar
Tim Dickson, vocal, guitar
Allen Shaw, vocal, guitar
 
Genres: Memphis Blues, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Alan Balfour.
Detailed discography.
 
The city of Memphis has been linked with the blues since W.C. Handy updated 'Boss' Crump's political campaign song of 1909 and published it as 'The Memphis Blues' in 1912. This was, of course, a formal composition but when 'race' recordings really took off in the 1920's a whole underworld of blues activity was discovered to be in existence in the city, centred on the 'black' thoroughfare of Beale Street. Continued... 



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Sleepy John Estes Vol 1 1929 - 1937

Sleepy John Estes Vol 1 24th September 1929 to 2nd August 1937
 
Sleepy John Estes, vocal, guitar.
Includes: Johnny Hardge, piano; James Yank Rachel, mandolin; Jab Jones, piano, Tee harmonica; Hammie Nixon, harmonica.
 
Country Blues / Early Chicago Blues.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.
 
John Norris of Jazz Beat Magazine once wrote of Sleepy John Estes .The emotional impact of his singing is overwhelming and when he really gets wound up in his music he sings with great power. Sleepy John Estes was in many ways the personification of the blues. His pleading vocals were always on the point disintegrating into a cry either of help or of joy. His guitar playing, which could either be used as a thumping rhythm or as a remarkable, strong and precise lead, were a direct line to the life of poverty that he lived and his experiences in the Brownsville, Tennessee where he was born and where he died. This is the first of two volumes covering Sleepy John Estes early and, arguably, his best recordings, which he made between 1929 and 1941 before he slipped into obscurity until being re-discovered during the great blues revival of the 1960s. Continued...
 



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Sleepy John Estes Vol 2 1937 - 1941

Sleepy John Estes Volume 2 (2nd August to 24th September 1941)
 
Sleepy John Estes, vocal, guitar.
With contributions by; Hammie Nixon, harmonica; Charlie Pickett, guitar; Robert (Nighthawk) Lee McCoy, harmonica, Son Bonds, vocal, kazoo, guitar; Raymond Thomas, imitation bass, vocal; and others...
 
Genres: Country Blues, Tennessee Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Harmonica.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.
 
This CD begins with Sleepy John Este's account of how he came close to drowning when a car he was riding in skidded off a temporary bridge. It's typical of the man, in that it deals with events and people from his immediate experience and in its constricted, emotional singing, matched by Hammie Nixon's melancholy harmonica. It's typical also in the element of paradox involved; this terrifying experience is recounted to the tune of Careless Love (a tune he later used to sing about the fact that he'd gone "Stone Blind"!)
John Norris of 'Jazz Beat Magazine' once wrote of Sleepy John Estes "The emotional impact of his singing is overwhelming and when he really gets wound up in his music he sings with great power."



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Blind Lemon Jefferson Vol 1 1925 - 1926

Blind Lemon Jefferson, vocal, guitar.
 
Genres: Country Blues, Texas Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Bob Groom
Detailed discography.
 
Pianist Sammy Price is credited with bringing Jefferson to the attention of Mayo Williams of Paramount Records, who were looking for other male blues artists to follow up their initial success with Papa Charlie Jackson. Curiously, these were two old spirituals which were later issued under the pseudonym 'Deacon L. J. Bates'. Perhaps the idea was to test the market for this unusual-sounding performer, however the recordings were held back for release until the following autumn. Certainly they lack the impact of Lemon's blues performances. A more passionate version of Pure Religion was recorded by Blind Gussie Nesbit in 1930 (Columbia 14576-D) while the 1927 recording of I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart by Mississippi blues singer Sam Collins (Gennett 6291), with slide guitar accompaniment, offers a useful comparison with Lemon's recording. Early in 1926 Lemon was recalled to the studio to record some blues. The four sides from this session were used for his first two records. Booster Blues and Dry Southern Blues were issued around the beginning of April and sales were obviously good as Paramount quickly issued Got the Blues and Long Lonesome Blues. This second record was phenomenally successful, tapping a market thirsty for Southern-styled blues. Within a few weeks Got The Blues and Long Lonesome Blues were remade at the Marsh Laboratories and these new recordings were used for later pressings of Paramount 12354. Continued...



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Blind Lemon Jefferson Vol 2 1927

Blind Lemon Jefferson, vocal, guitar.
With contributions by: George Perkins, piano.
 
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Texas Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Bob Groom.
Detailed discography.
 
1927 was the peak year of the decade for record sales (before radio and, later, the Depression began to seriously affect the record industry), with well over 100 million discs sold in America, "race records" accounting for at least 5 million of these and Blind Lemon Jefferson being one of the hottest properties in that field, having had a string of successful Paramount record releases in 1926. In March, 1927 Lemon was lured away from Paramount by Polk C. Brockman of OKeh Records. Jefferson recorded eight titles for them, including a remake of his Black Snake Moan hit. This was released together with a new song, Match Box Blues, and the record was an instant hit. The following month Lemon was in Chicago to remake Easy Rider Blues and Match Box Blues for Paramount. The resulting record must have been a phenomenal success as he remade Match Box Blues again a few weeks later, which suggests that the earlier master was wearing out, perhaps implying six-figures sales. Continued...



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Blind Lemon Jefferson Vol 3 1928

Blind Lemon Jefferson, vocal, guitar.

 

Genres: Texas Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar

Informative booklet notes by Bob Groom.

Detailed discography.

 

From this CD's notes:

Considering that he was the most popular male blues recording artist of the 1920s, we know surprisingly little about Blind Lemon Jefferson. Between 1925 and 1929 he made at least 100 recordings, including alternative versions of some songs. Had 43 records issued, all but one on the Paramount label. He died in Chicago, in mysterious circumstances, towards the end of December, 1929. He Inspired a generation of male bluesmen but had few imitators, due to the complexity of his guitar playing and the distinctiveness of his high, clear voice.  Continued...




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Blind Lemon Jefferson Vol 4 (1929)

Blind Lemon Jefferson, vocal, guitar.
 
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Texas Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Bob Groom.
Detailed discography.
 
Lemon started 1929 with a very strong pair of recordings: Eagle Eyed Mama repeats the title phrase in every verse, reinforcing the imagery like a pop song, while Dynamite Blues offers a violent solution to his woman trouble ("blow her up late at night"!) in a cathartic fantasy. Peach Orchard Mama, the first of a block of seven masters made at his next session and the only one to feature a short guitar solo, was probably Jefferson's last major hit. It was re-recorded in the summer, along with its 'B' aide Big Night Blues, but not released until September. Big Joe Williams successfully revived Peach Orchard Mama in 1941(Bluebird B-8774). The session ended with That Black Snake Moan No. 2, a comparatively lifeless reworking of his massive 1926/7 hit and the fourth time he had utilized the theme on record. Two notable titles sandwiched between the extremes were Oil Well Blues (complete with spoken introduction), its imagery most appropriate to a Texas-born blues singer, and Tin Cup Blues which evokes the hard time when Jefferson entertained on street corners for small change in his home state before he became a star recording artist.



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Memphis Jug Band Vol 1 1927 - 1928

Memphis Jug Band Vol. 1 (24th February to 13th February 1928)
 
Includes: Will Shade, vocal, harmonica, guitar; (Casey Bill) Will Weldon, vocal guitar; Charlie Polk, jug; Vol Stevens, banjo-mandolin; Jenny Clayton, vocal; Ben Ramey, vocal, kazoo; and others…
 
Genres: Memphis Blues, Jug Band, Country Blues, Blues Harmonica.
Booklet Notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.
 
It's appropriate that the breakthrough to recording for Memphis jug bands should have been spearheaded by the Memphis Jug Band, even if it no longer appears that Will Shade's group was the first of its kind in the city. The good sales of their first coupling both ensured that Victor recorded them extensively for three years, and paved the way into the studio for the bands led by Gus Cannon, Jed Davenport and Jack Kelly. The Memphis Jug Band's sound changed considerably with time, but it was always instantly recognisable; at the outset, the band comprised Will Shade and Will Weldon, whose two guitars make a sound often very like that of St. Louis bluesman Charlie Jordan; Ben Ramey, whose chugging, inventive kazoo shared the melodic duties with the harmonica that Shade also played; and Charlie Polk, who played the instrument that gave the band its name. Continued...



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Memphis Jug Band Vol 2 1928 - 1929

Memphis Jug Band Vol 2 (13th February 1928 to October 1929)
 
Includes: Will Shade; vocal, guitar; (Casey Bill) Will Weldon, guitar; Vol Stevens, banjo-mandolin; Charlie Polk, jug; Charlie Burse, vocal, guitar; Jab Jones, jug; Hattie Hart, vocal; And others…
Genres: Memphis Blues, Country Blues, Jug Bands
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.
 
When the Memphis Jug Band reassembled in September 1928 to cut eight titles for Victor, they began in larky mood. New member (on disc at least) Jab Jones sang what was nominally a tribute to Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic the previous year, but his version of the Lindyhop is a crazy, almost surrealist one. Sugar Pudding, a version of "Take Your Fingers Off It", marked the debut of Jones's thunderous jug, replacing the less forthright Charlie Polk. The other new member was the extrovert Alabaman guitarist and singer Charlie Burse. He was one of the singers on both On The Road Again, whose chorus refers to Monk Eastman's eponymous gang, active in New York in the late 1890s, and the hybrid A Black Woman Is Like A Black Snake, with its 12 bar verse and 8 bar chorus. The cryptic Whitewash Station opened proceedings on 15th September, followed by the Memphis Jug Band’s most famous number, the beautiful Stealin' Stealin', relaxed, nostalgic, and superbly played. The two waltzes that closed the session, though unusual on race records, were probably no novelty to the band, which would have been expected to play such pieces for dancing by both blacks and whites. Continued...



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Memphis Jug Band Vol 3 (1930)

 

Memphis Jug Band (Carolina Peanut Boys, Memphis Sheiks)
 
Includes: Will Shade, vocal, guitar; Charlie Burse, mandolin, tenor guitar, Hambone Lewis, jug; Charlie Nickerson, vocal, Memphis Minnie, vocal, guitar; Jab Jones, jug; Hattie Hart, vocal; And others...
 
Genres: Memphis Blues, Country Blues, Jug Bands.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.
 
Everybody's Talking About Sadie Green, proclaimed the Memphis Jug Band's new singer, Charlie Nickerson, on the first song of fourteen that were to be recorded on six days between 12th May and 5th June 1930. Besides the addition of Nickerson's ingratiating vocals, perfect for hokum and dance tunes, Hambone Lewis had been brought in to play powerful jug, replacing Jab Jones, who'd left after a row with Will Shade over his drinking habits. Continued...

 




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Blind Blake Vol 1 1926 - 1927

DOCD-5024 Blind Blake Vol 1 (July 1926 to October 1927)
 
Blind Blake, vocal, guitar.
 
With contributions by: Leola B. Wilson, vocal; Jimmy Blythe, piano; And others…
 
Genres: Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Ragtime Guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Alan Balfour.
Detailed discography.
 
Over a six year period Blind Blake recorded eighty-four titles together with numerous as “house” guitarist to artists like Papa Charlie Jackson, Ma Rainey, Leola B. Wilson and Irene Scruggs. This compilation covers his formative years and it has been surmised that initially he made three visits between August and December 1926 to Paramount’s Chicago studio. Continued...



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