Various – Bottleneck Guitar – Selected Sides 1926 – 2015 – 4CD
Release date: October 19th 2018
Slide guitar is associated with major Blues artists, such as Robert Johnson, Booker White, Elmore James and Leadbelly. Here are those greats with some lesser well-known – but not lesser talents.
Featuring: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Tampa Red, Louisiana Red, Joe Louis Walker, Charlie McCoy, Charley Patton, Michael Hill, Bo Weavil Jackson, Sam Butler, Lucky Peterson and many more.
Blind Lemon Jefferson: 1. Jack O’Diamond Blues Tk 2 - Big Boy Cleveland: Goin’ To Leave You Blues - Bo Weavil Jackson: 3. You Can’t Keep No Brown - Frank Hutchinson: 4. Worried Blues - Sam Collins: 5. The Jail House Blues Sam Butler: 6. Jefferson County Blues alt - Riley Puckett: 7. A Darkey’s Wail - Blind Willie McTell: 8. Mama Tain’t Long Fo’ Day - Helen Humes: 9. Alligator Blues - Weaver & Beasley: 10. Bottleneck Blues - Blind Willie Johnson: 11. Mother’s Children Have A Hard Time - Bobby Grant: 12. Nappy Head Blues - Ramblin’ Thomas: 13. No Job Blues - Lemuel Turner: 14. Jake Bottle Blues - Barbecue Bob: 15. Chocolate To The Bone - Nellie Florence: 16. Midnight Weeping Blues - Tampa Red:17. Through Train Blues - Furry Lewis: 18. Cannon Ball Blues alt - Curley Weaver: 19. No No Blues - Willie Baker: 20. Weak Minded Blues - George Carter: 21. Weeping Willow Blues - Hambone Willie Newbern: 22. Roll And Tumble Blues - Charley Patton: 23. A Spoonful Blues - Charlie McCoy: 24. Last Time Blues - Blind Joe Reynolds: Cold Woman Blues -
Jim Thompkins: 1. Bedside Blues - Willie Harris: 2. Never Drive A Stranger From Your Door - Son House: 3. Mississippi County Farm Blues - Washington White: 4. The Panama Limited - Bayless Rose: 5. Frisco Blues - Shreveport Home Wreckers: 6. Fence Breakin’ Blues - Gitfiddle Jim: 7. Paddlin’ Madeline - Ruth Willis: 8. Experience Blues - King Solomon Hill: 9. Whoopee Blues Tk 1 - Cliff Carlisle: 10. Ash Can Blues - Buddy Moss: 11. Hard Road Blues - Jimmie Davis: 12. Sewing Machine Blues - Fred McMullen: 13. DeKalb Chain Gang - Georgia Browns: 14. Decatur Street 81 - Tampa Red: 15. Denver Blues - Allen Shaw: 16. Moanin’ The Blues - Kokomo Arnold: 7. Sissy Man Blues - Leadbelly: 18. Packin’ Trunk Blues - Blind Boy Fuller: 19. Homesick And Lonesome Blues - Gabriel Brown: 20. John Henry - Big Joe Williams: 21. Wild Cow Blues - Casey Bill Weldon: 22. W.P.A. Blues - Sam Montgomery: 23. Where The Sweet Old Oranges Grow - Oscar Woods: 24. Don’t Sell It - Don’t Give It Away - Black Ace: 25. Trifling Woman -
Robert Johnson: 1. Traveling Riverside Blues Tk. 1 - Smith Casey: 2. East Texas Rag - Dixon Brothers: 3. Weave Room Blues - Bukka White: 4. Po’ Boy - Robert Lee McCoy: 5. Friar’s Point Blues - Noah Moore: 6. Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ - Oscar Woods: 7. Sometimes I Get To Thinkin’ Tk 2 - Robert Lockwood: 8. Little Boy Blue – Allison Mathis: 9. Mama You Goin’ To Quit Me - Gus Gibson: 10. Milk Cow Blues - Dan Pickett: 11. Baby, How Long - Pinetop Slim: 12. Appejack Boogie - Muddy Waters: 13. You Got To Take Sick And Die Some Of These Days - Robert Nighthawk: 14. Black Angel Blues - John Lee: 15. Down At The Depot - Donna Hightower: 16. I Ain’t In The Mood - Elmore James: 17. Dust My Broom - Sister O.M. Terrell: 18. Swing Low Chariot - John Lee Hooker: 19. Rock House Boogie - J.B. Hutto: 20. Dim Lights - Homesick James: 21. Late Hours At Midnight - Johnny Shines: 22. Ramblin’ - Fred McDowell: 23. When You Get Home, Write Me A Few Little Lines - John Dudley: 24. Po’ Boy - Elmore James: 25. Done Somebody Wrong -
Kenny Parker w The Butler Twins: 1. That Old Devil (Crossroads) - Louisiana Red: 2. Steel On My Hand - Joe Louis Walker: 3. Slide Her Up And Down - Elmore James Jr.: 4. Cummins Prison Farm - Steve Plair w. Brewer Phillips & The Houserockers: 5. Poison Ivy - Johnny Littlejohn: 6. Keep On Running - Amos Sandford w Doc Terry: 7. Things Can’t Stay The Same - Byther Smith: 8. Looking For A Woman - Lucky Peterson: 9. Be Your Man - Michael Hill: 10. Mr Hubert Sumlin - Louisiana Red: 11. Sweet Leg Girl - John Lee Granderson: 12. Lonesome Blues - Johnny Shines: 13. Rambling Blues -
Like so much of blues history, the origins of slide guitar are lost in the mists of time swirling and obscuring any possible documentation. Some suggest that the popularity of Hawaiian music in the 1910s was an influence, but as I noted a while ago, if you were growing up in a clapboard shack in the Mississippi Delta in 1900 or thereabouts, Hawaiians didn’t walk past your door every day. The classic reference is to W.C. Handy’s 1903 encounter with a musician sliding a knife over the strings of his guitar, proving that the technique preceded the arrival of the Hawaiian style by at least a decade.
A more likely source is the instruments played by West African griots. In Portrait Of The Blues, CeDell Davis explained to Paul Trynka how a diddley bow was constructed: ‘When you buy a broom they had a special kind of wire was wrapped around the bottom to hold the straw on the broom. That’s the kind of wire we would use...You got one nail here, you wrapped the wire around it real tight, then you drive it into the wall . . . Pull the wire stretched tight as you can, do the same thing at the other end. You get a glass snuff bottle and put that in between the string and the wall and press it down and that’s what gets you the sound. Then you find you a coke flavour bottle and that’s what you pick it with, slide it up and down. The diddley bow goes way back. It comes from Africa.’
When Handy made his discovery, the guitar was gaining in popularity over the banjo and violin which until then had been the favoured instruments of country musicians. Slide guitar became the natural consequence of using the technique learned on the diddley bow, keeping a rhythmic pulse on the bass strings with the thumb while using a bottle or a knife to slide over the treble strings. As this collection illustrates, slide guitarists encompassed a whole gamut of techniques, some content to play standard rhythm and counterpoint, while others developed more complex styles combining finger-picked patterns with dazzling slide filigree.
The first musician to play slide on record was Sylvester Weaver, who cut ‘Guitar Rag’ in October 1923. Western Swing guitarist Leon McAuliffe adapted the tune, calling it ‘Steel Guitar Rag’ while neglecting to acknowledge Weaver’s original composition. Three years after Weaver’s recording, Blind Lemon Jefferson made his own contribution, ‘Jack O’Diamond Blues’, his slide closely following his vocal, sometimes ending the vocal line on its own.
It took a while before blues enthusiasts became aware of the interaction between black and white musicians. Frank Hutchison learned to play slide guitar from the black Bill Hunt and ‘Worried Blues’ showed how thoroughly he’d taken to it. His contemporary Riley Puckett, one of Gid Tanner’s Skillet-Lickers, recorded ‘A Darkey’s Wail’ in Atlanta, and it’s thought the musician he refers to is Blind Willie McTell.
How do you avoid Robert Johnson? Now that the adulation has died down and so-called experts need to reassess their judgement, it’s become time to denigrate his status. But one listen to ‘Traveling Riverside Blues (here in its first take) confirms his unique position as the conduit through which pre-war blues made its transition to post-war influence.
Most labels can offer either ‘vintage’ recordings or contemporary material. Here we have the opportunity to do both on one set. The newer material here on disc 4 both stands alongside the vintage tracks and also moves things along stylistically as it should. I have always believed that modern blues must reflect the time that it’s recorded but also that certain fundamental rules apply to how ‘real music’ should be recorded.
So the Blues didn’t die, hasn’t died, has some really top class modern practitioners and we can enjoy the great classics as one discs 1 to 3 and the recent and modern classics as on Disc 4 here.
Neil Slaven & John Stedman
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