The music of the juke-joints, fish-fries and Medicine Shows was spread all over the Southern States by travelling Blues players and wandering songsters. Recordings and radio made this regional music into a national phenomenon.
WC HANDY – MEMPHIS BLUES BAND
‘The Father of the Blues’ was a great pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger and this album shows his work being played by a jazz orchestra. Sound quality is pretty low-fi, but it was recorded between 1917 – 1923 with a mechanical microphone, and you can’t get more authentic than that!
BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON – DARK WAS THE NIGHT
This 16 track compilation includes all of Blind Willie’s most important songs and represents outstanding value. The timeless music on this album has been covered by some of the most influential Blues and Rock bands in the world, but rarely with the passion of the originals.
DADDY STOVEPIPE – ALABAMA BLACK COUNTRY DANCE BANDS
Daddy contributes four solo tracks to this eclectic compilation, and eight more duets with his wife, Mississippi Sarah. The material here is representative of a Saturday night country dance out in the boondocks, and is completed by eight tracks from guitarist Ben Curry and a couple more from a string band called The Mobile Strugglers.
JAYBIRD COLEMAN – 1920’S BLUES ESSENTIALS
Download only, but here are 10 of the 11 known solo Jaybird recordings including ‘Wild Cat Squawl’, a typical country harp-players animal track. Jaybird is not a very well known figure in the Blues, but he was influential on those players that followed him in that his harp was a feature instrument, and offered an alternative to the ‘Jug Band’ tradition.
SYLVESTER WEAVER – SYLVESTER WEAVER 1
Sylvester was one of the first Blues guitarists to record a solo track, as an instrumentalist and as a singer accompanied by a single guitar. The sound quality is not all it could be, as it was cut in the days of mechanical microphones, but there is no mistaking the quality of the playing.
HAMMIE NIXON – TAPPIN’ THAT THING
This CD has the sessions for Uni. Of Memphis from the original album, plus five more tracks.
TEXAS ALEXANDER – 1927-1928
Comprehensive, chronological collection, with the sound cleaned up by Document. There are 23 tracks here, including a couple of alternate takes, some featuring the excellent guitar work of Lonnie Johnson and ‘Little Hat’ Jones.
KID ORY – LEGENDARY KID
A bit like ‘the missing link’, this music is traditional jazz that reveals the Blues at the centre of its soul.
JACK OWENS – IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE DEVIL
This recording was made when Jack was almost 70, but he still sounds great as he drags out these tracks like he would back in his juke-joint, the title song stretching to almost 10 minutes.
ROBERT McCOY – BYE BYE BABY
There are 21 tracks in this compilation, mostly of Robert singing and playing unaccompanied, in his archaic but influential style.
LITTLE HAT JONES – TEXAS BLUES (1927-1935)
This is a rare treat! As well as ‘Little Hat’s complete output, we have T-Bone Walker’s first ever recording, ‘Wichita Falls’ from 1929, and superb examples of acoustic country Blues from three little-known talents.
YANK RACHELL – CHICAGO STYLE
The Tennessee Jug Busters is also worth a listen, with it’s cast of Legends, but this collection is a pure joy, with the Blues played in a truly unique fashion.
PAPA CHARLIE JACKSON 3
This 25 track collection gives a great overview of Papa Charlie’s work, from Maxwell Street to his last sessions, most with surprisingly good sound.
FREDDIE SPRUELL – MISSISSIPPI BLUES VOLUME 2
Freddie’s crystal clear vocals and 12-string work make him a compelling performer, and it is surprising he didn’t sell too well.
ROBERT PETWAY – CATFISH BLUES: MISSISSIPPI BLUES 3
This album has all 14 of Robert’s released tracks, rounded out by nine more from his contemporaries, Sonny Boy Nelson and Mississippi Matilda.
CAT IRON – SINGS BLUES AND HYMNS
The excellent Country Blues ‘Cat’ puts down here is echoed in his ‘spirituals’ which comes from the soul of a true Bluesman.