Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

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The Two Poor Boys 1927 - 1931

Joe Evans, vocal, kazoo, guitar; Arthur McClain, kazoo, guitar.
(Also mandolin and guitar by either Evans or McClain)

Genres: Country Blues, Country Blues guitar, Tennessee Blues. Country Blues Duet.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.

Joe Evans and Arthur McClain are reported to have come from Fairmount, in eastern Tennessee, a region where blacks were outnumbered twelve to one by whites, and this goes some way to explaining the evident hillbilly influences on their music. Otherwise, all we know about “The Two Poor Boys” is in the grooves of their 78s.  Continued...




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Barbecue Bob Vol 1 1927 - 1928

Robert Hicks "Barbecue Bob", vocal, twelve-string guitar.

 

Genres; Country Blues, Atlanta Blues, Twelve-String Guitar, Bottleneck-slide Guitar.

Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.

Detailed discography.

 

Robert Hicks was an extrovert young man of 24 when Columbia's Dan Hornsby arranged his first recording session in March 1927, and had only moved into Atlanta from the countryside a few years before. When he recorded He had learned guitar, along with their friend Curley Weaver, from Curley's mother; all three played in a similar style, favouring the big, booming sound of the 12-string guitar, and relishing the contrast of pulsing bass riffs with the whine of a bottleneck on the treble strings. Barbecue Blues was a good seller, but it was at his second session, in New York in June 1927, that Bob firmly established himself with black record buyers, and thus with Columbia; Mississippi Heavy Water Blues, inspired by the catastrophic floods that had occurred that very month, was a considerable seller, and as a result Robert became Atlanta's most-recorded blues singer of the 20s. It was probably his success that persuaded Columbia to record both his brother Charlie and, in 1928, Curley Weaver. Continued...




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Barbecue Bob Vol 2 1928 - 1929

Barbecue Bob (Robert Hicks), vocal, twelve-string guitar

 

Nellie Florence, vocal; accompanied by Barbecue Bob, twelve-string guitar (two tracks)

 

Genre: Country blues from Atlanta, Georgia.

Informative booklet notes written by Chris Smith.

Detailed discography.

 

Think of the "rural blues" or "country blues" from Atlanta in the late 1920s and it is more than likely that the sound of the iconic twelve-string guitar comes to mind. One of the undisputable "Kings of the twelve-string" from the Atlanta area was Blind McTell (see Documents BDCD-6001, BDCD-6014 and the triple CD; DOCD-5677), yet, if there was such a thing as the guitar sound of Atlanta at the time, it was that of Robert Hicks, better known as Barbecue Bob and his brother Charlie also known as Laughing Charlie (see Document BDCD-6027).

 

Though Bob's guitar technique didn't have the same complexities and range as that of Willie Mctell, it was powerful, with the use of a hard, slapping, of the lower bass string, contrasted with the high ringing notes, produced, almost exclusively, on the high treble string. Usually, his accompaniments were delivered with a relentless, pulsating rhythm and this simple but winning formula was topped off by his dark, rich, captivating voice.




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Barbecue Bob Vol 3 1929 - 1930

Barbecue Bob (Robert Hicks), vocal, twelve-string guitar.
Including: Charlie Lincoln (Charlie Hicks), vocal, twelve-string guitar; Curley Weaver, vocal, guitar; Buddy Moss, harmonica.

Genres: Country Blues, Georgia Blues, Bottleneck-slide Guitar, Country Blues Harmonica.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.

Columbia’s field recording trips to the South took place twice a year from 1925 to 1930, in the spring and the late fall; having collected eight songs (of which they issued six) from Barbecue Bob in November 1929, they returned as usual in April 1930. On this occasion, Bob’s brother Charlie Lincoln made his only recorded appearance under his real name on the comic dialogues Darktown Gamblin’, which were credited to Robert & Charlie Hicks. Barbecue Bob was still a hot property as far as Columbia were concerned... Continued...




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Ishman Bracey & Charley Taylor 1928 - 1929

Ishman Bracey, vocal, guitar.
Charley Taylor, vocal piano.
Rosie Mae Moore, vocal.

With contributions by: Charlie McCoy, guitar, mandolin; Kid Ernest Michall, clarinet.
Informative booklet notes by Paul Oliver.
Detailed discography.

There is something hard and uncompromising about the personality of Ishmon Bracey, something challenging and direct. It is evident in the known photographs of him when he was in his late Twenties, staring fixedly at the photographer. In one shot his expression is steady, even sullen; in the more familiar cut from an old Victor catalogue he struggled a mirthless and unfriendly smile. Dressed in a suit, with collar and tie, in each case he was carefully up-to-date. "A rare combination of braggart, entertainer, musician, showman and eventually an ordained minister" is how Gayle Dean Wardlow, who interviewed him many times, chose to describe him in Blues Unlimited (No. 142). By Ishmon Bracey's own account to Dave Evans, he was a fighter too, "mixing it" with Saturday night drunks and the jealous lovers who came after his friend Tommy Johnson. Continued...




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Big Bill Broonzy Vol 1 1927 - 1932

Big Bill Broonzy, guitar, vocal.

Including: John Thomas, guitar, speech; Frank Brasswell, guitar.; "Georgia Tom" Dorsey, piano; Steele Smith, banjo, vocal.

Genres: Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Hokum.
Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

When Big Bill Broonzy came to Chicago from Arkansas in 1920 he was still "country" but, as he was to prove time and again in his long career, he was also adaptable and despite his supremely affable, easy-going manner he knew what he wanted and was prepared to persevere until he got it. One of the things he wanted was to make records. Continued...




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Big Bill Broonzy Vol 2 1932 - 1934

Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar.

With contributions by: probably Black Bob, piano; Steele Smith, vocal, banjo; Roy Palmer, trombone, Jimmy Bertrand, washboard; probably Charlie Jackson, banjo and others.

Genres: Pre-war Blues, Mississippi Blues, Chicago Blues, Blues Guitar, Jug Band.

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

From this†album's booklet notes.
By 1932 Big Bill Broonzy had got the measure of the music business. He was well known in Chicago and, with his winning ways and talent, had become intimate with the leading musicians of his time and place and was laying down the base of the edifice he graced so easily in later years when he became a father figure for the post war blues. Continued..




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Big Bill Broonzy Vol 3 1934 - 1935

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.
Detailed discography.

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. Continued...



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Montana Taylor 1929 - 1946 and the complete

Montana Taylor 1929 – 1946 and the complete “Freddie” Shayne 1935-1946

Featuring:
Montana Taylor, vocal, piano.
Bertha “Chippie” Hill, vocal.
Harry “Freddie” Shayne, vocal, piano.
With contributions by: Almond Leonard, washboard, kazoo; Baby Dodds, drums; Lee Collins, trumpet, John Lindsay, stand-up bass.

Informative booklet notes by Karl Gert zur Heide
Detailed discography.

Well into the '60s, Arthur "Montana" Taylor and Henry "Freddie" Shayne, two Midwestern blues cum boogie pianists whose names were familiar from some "race" records, were rumoured to be still living around Cleveland and Chicago respectively. Paul Affeldt, editor of Jazz Report and producer of the Euphonic piano LP series, tried to locate them, obviously without success. Two decades earlier, architect and author Rudi Blesh was more fortunate and recorded Taylor and Shayne for his revivalist Circle label in Chicago. Two decades before that, both musicians had cut their first sides there for the one and only Mayo Williams (who was probably responsible for Shayne's 1935 session, too) after their recording potential had been spotted in St. Louis (Shayne, 1924) and Indianapolis (Taylor, 1929), two cities with strong piano traditions.




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Sonny Boy Williamson Vol 1 1937 - 1938

(5th May 1937 to 17th June 1938)
 
Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.
With contributions by: Big Joe Williamson, guitar; Robert (Nighthawk) Lee McCoy, guitar; Walter Davis, piano; Henry Townsend, guitar; Yank Rachell, guitar and others...

Genres: Blues, Blues Harmonica, Chicago Blues, Urban Blues.

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

In a brief life of thirty four years Sonny Boy Williamson achieved immortality as the pioneer of what was to become part of the post war electric sound of the Chicago Blues. To allow the harmonica, sometimes described as a 'semi-legitimate' instrument, to compete in a band environment, with drums, usually a piano and recently amplified guitars Sonny Boy literally embraced the microphone along with the harmonica to great effect. Often he would dove-tailing and blend the sound of the instrument with the beginning or end his songs lines. His popularity and influence were immense and survive until today. His techniques paved the way for many blues artists, including Sonny Boy (Rice Miller) Williamson, Little Walter, Junior Wells and many others. This, the first of five remarkable volumes from Document of the complete recordings of the father of amplified blues harmonica, demonstrates how Sonny Boy Williamson 1st brought the instrument from the country to the city and turned the small, pocket sized instrument into a major voice in the blues.




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Sonny Boy Williamson Vol 2 1938 - 1939

Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.

With contributions by: Walter Davis, piano; Yank Rachell, mandolin; Robert (Nighthawk) Lee McCoy, guitar; Speckled Red, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar.

Genres: Chicago blues, Blues harmonica, Urban Blues

Informative booklet notes by Keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes:

By 1938 any lingering doubts Bluebird might have had about Sonny Boy Williamson had been laid to rest and they had him in the studio three times that year. Sonny Boy was joined by Big Joe Williams and Yank Rachell during his second session in the studio and it is speculated to be the latter playing guitar on the rather hastily arranged title track My Baby I've Been Your Slave. For the second number Yank Rachell is on his more usual instrument, the Mandolin, to contribute to the crisp backing of Whiskey Headed Blues, a number that has since been given various treatments by artists such as Tommy McClennan and John Lee Hooker. On Shannon Street Sonny Boy describes getting drunk in Jackson and his wife's reaction to the event. Alcohol and Sonny Boy Williamson were not a good mix and he would have increasing problems with it throughout his life. Deep Down In The Ground is built on the base of another song "Stack of Dollars", a song associated with Sleepy John Estes and often performed by Big Joe Williams.

 




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Sonny Boy Williamson Vol 3 1939 - 1941

Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson, vocal, harmonica.

With contributions by: Walter Davis, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; Blind John Davis, piano; Joshua Altheimer piano and others...

Genres: Chicago Blues, Blues Harmonica, Urban Blues

Informative booklet notes by keith Briggs.
Detailed discography.

From this album's booklet notes:
The opening eleven tracks on this Document Records Sonny Boy Williamson CD represent the greater part of his only studio appearance in 1939. Sonny Boy was again accompanied by Big Bill Broonzy on guitar and Walter Davis on piano. The first track T.B. Blues is a sombre recording of Victoria Spivey's influential 1929 song. In Good Gal Blues Sonny Boy complains about how much singing he has to do; "Lost my voice, didn't do nothin' but make a lot of noise" registering a mild disapproval at the length of the session but if so he was back on fine form with a report on the heavyweight boxing fight between Joe Louis and John Henry. Other themes explored are the prison inspired tracks New Jail House Blues and Life Time Blues. Big Bill Broonzy again proves his worth on the fast and jivey track Tell Me Baby a song much favoured by blues singers. The session ends with Honey Bee one of two separate songs with this title recorded by Sonny Boy.



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