Various – Get Up Off Your Knees – From Bed Springs to Bloomers – 4CD
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How to sin…99 different ways.
In the 1920s, record companies found the Black audience could be profitable. Record sales soared. Sex - disguised -was a major part of blues lyrics. Fish, flesh, fruit and fowl were all co-opted, as well as rent men and gas men, butchers and bakers, carpenters and coffee grinders, keyholes and kitchens, cigarettes and sissies, frying pans and furniture, and unkindly, a bicycle. Here’s a raucous, red-blooded blues investigation of one of Humanity’s constant fixations, from artists like Julia Lee, Lonnie Johnson, Victoria Spivey, Roosevelt Sykes and many, many more.
Papa Charlie Jackson: 1. Shave ‘Em Dry - Margaret Carter: 2. I Want Plenty Grease In My Frying Pan - Lonnie Johnson / Victoria Spivey: 3. Furniture Man Blues Pts 1 & 2 - Clara Smith: 4. Aint Got Nobody To Grind My Coffee - Ethel Waters: 5. Get Up Off Your Knees - Cow Cow Davenport: 6. I’m Gonna Tell You In Front So You Won’t Feel Hurt Behind - Sippie Wallace: 7. I’m A Mighty Tight Woman - Lucille Bogan: 8. Coffee Grindin’ Blues - Al Miller: 9. I Found Your Keyhole - Bessie Smith: 10. Kitchen Man - Minnie Wallace: 11. Dirty Butter - Whistlin’ Alex Moore: 12. Blue Bloomer Blues - Margaret Webster: 13. You’ve Got To Give Me Some - Lizzie Miles: 14. My Man O’ War - Lonnie Johnson: 15. Wipe It Off - Madelyn James: 16. Stinging Snake Blues - Speckled Red: 17. The Dirty Dozen No. 2 - Kansas City Kitty / Georgia Tom: 18. Show Me What You Got - Charlie Lincoln: 19. Doodle Hole Blues - Lizzie Miles: 20. Electrician Blues - Barbecue Bob: 21. She Shook Her Gin - Kansas City Kitty / Georgia Tom: 22. Fish House Blues - Butterbeans & Susie: 23. Elevator Papa, Switchboard Mama - George Hannah: 24. The Boy In The Boat -
Georgia Tom / Hannah May: 1. What’s That I Smell - Hannah May: 2. Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat - Mae Glover / John Byrd: 3. Gas Man Blues - Bo Carter: 4. Banana In Your Fruit Basket - R.T. Hanen: 5. She’s Got Jordan River In Her Hips - Georgia Tom / Jane Lucas: 6. Terrible Operation Blues - Lonnie Johnson: 7. The Best Jockey In Town - Mississippi Sheiks: 8. Bed Spring Poker - Big Bill Broonzy: 9. How You Want It Done - Hunter & Jenkins: 10. Lollypop - James ‘Stump’ Johnson: 11. Don’t Give My Lard Away - Isabel Sykes: 12. In Here With Your Heavy Stuff - Blind Willie McTell: 13. Southern Can Mama - Memphis Minnie: 14. My Butcher Man - Carl Rafferty: 15. Dresser With The Drawers - Whistling Rufus: 16. (Who’s Gonna Do Your) Sweet Jelly Roll - Napoleon Fletcher: 17. She Showed It All - St Louis Jimmy: 18. Pipe Layin’ Blues - Dorothy Baker: 19. Steady Grindin’ Blues - Jimmie Gordon: 20. Bed Springs Blues - Hattie Hart: 21. I Let My Daddy Do That - Cliff Carlisle: 22. Mouse’s Ear Blues - Bo Carter: 23. Mashing That Thing - Memphis Minnie: 24. Jockey Man Blues - Leadbelly: 25. Pig Meat Papa -
Lucille Bogan: 1. Shave ‘Em Dry - Walter Roland: 2. I’m Gonna Shave You Dry - Pinewood Tom (Josh White): 3. Sissy Man - Bob Howe / Frankie Griggs: 4. The Hottest Stuff In Town - Bernice Edwards: 5. Butcher Shop Blues - Johnny Temple: 6. Lead Pencil Blues - Kokomo Arnold: 7. ‘Cause You’re Dirty - Blind Boy Fuller: 8. I’m A Rattlesnakin’ Daddy - Buddy Moss: 9. You Got To Give Me Some Of It - Bo Carter: 10. Cigarette Blues - Lil Johnson: 11. Take It Easy Greasy - Al Miller: 12. Ain’t That A Mess - Roosevelt Sykes: 13. The Honeydripper - Jazz Gillum: 14. Sarah Jane - Walter Davis: 15. Think You Need A Shot - Lil Johnson: 16. My Stove’s In Good Condition - John Oscar / Sam Theard: 17. I Wonder Who’s Boogiein’ My Woogie - Jesse James: 18. Sweet Petuni - Stella Johnson: 19. Don’t Come Over - Chicago Black Swans: 20. Don’t Tear My Clothes No. 2 - Blind Boy Fuller: 21. Sweet Honey Hole - Barrel House Annie: 22. Love Operation - Roosevelt Sykes: 23. Bread Pan (Just My Size) - Art McKay: 24. She Squeezed My Lemon - Lee Brown: 25. Carpenter Man Blues -
Charlie Pickett: 1. Let Me Squeeze Your Lemon - Roosevelt Sykes: 2. My Baby’s Playground - Memphis Minnie: 3. Keep On Eatin’ - Washboard Sam: 4. I’m Gonna Keep My Hair Parted - Blind Boy Fuller: 5. What’s That Smells Like Fish - Lillie Mae Kirkman: 6. He’s Just My Size - Little Buddy Doyle: 7. She’s Got Good Dry Goods - Tony Hollins: 8. Crawlin’ King Snake - Tampa Red: 9. Let Me Play With Your Poodle - Bill Samuels: 10. My Bicycle Tillie - Champion Jack Dupree: 11. I’m A Doctor For Women - Little Boy Fuller: 12. Bed Springs Blues - Ralph Willis: 13. Boar Hog Blues - Sylvester Cotton: 14. Big Chested Mama Tk 1 - Little Boy Fuller: 15. Bed Springs Blues - Amos Milburn: 16. Pool Playing Blues - The Sharps & Flats: 17. I Knew He Would - Julia Lee: 18. Don’t Come Too Soon - Dan Pickett: 19. Lemon Man - Helen Humes: 20. I’m Gonna Let Him Ride - John Lee Hooker: 21. My Daddy Was A Jockey - Floyd Dixon: 22. Too Much Jelly Roll - Fats Noel: 23. Ride, Daddy, Ride - Fluffy Hunter: 24. The Walkin’ Blues - Eunice Davies: 25. Work, Daddy, Work - Helen Humes: 26. Loud Talkin’ Woman -
Was there a simpler time when vulgarity was an art form? When boisterous language was the norm. When you weren’t pursued by the politically crass. When single issue fanatics didn’t try to stop you doing something of which he/she disapproved?
A hundred years ago, the black and white communities of America developed alongside one another, separated by prejudice and economics. The sidewalks were white and anything black was on the other side of the tracks. Then record companies realised money was to be made by catering to a black audience’s need for music. Call it cynical, call it profitable. New York, Chicago and Memphis and smaller towns such as Grafton, Wisconsin and Richmond, Indiana became recording hubs, while field units travelled through the South searching for talent. Record sales burgeoned and catalogues grew.
Then someone realised that although sex was a major constituent in blues lyrics, blues singers disguised it with inventive euphemism. It was disguised in language the uninformed would never master, although many tried. All manner of fish, flesh, fruit and fowl were conscripted, along with rent men and gas men, butchers and bakers, carpenters and coffee grinders, keyholes and kitchens, cigarettes and sissies, frying pans and furniture, and most unkindly, a bicycle.
One of the most notorious was Shave ‘Em Dry, the analogy of a raw face-scrape alluding to lack of moisture but to an activity other than shaving. As with so many songs, Ma Rainey was the first to put it on record around August 1924 but she assumed her audience understood her references without the need for graphic explanation. Six months later, Papa Charlie Jackson cut his own more suggestive version: ‘Now here’s one thing I can’t understand, why a bow-legged woman likes a knock-kneed man.’ Shave ‘Em Dry cropped up over the ensuing years, James ‘Boodle-It’ Wiggins cut it in 1929 and Lil Johnson presented a New Shave ‘Em Dry in November 1936. But the definitive and outrageous renderings had been provided eighteen months previously by Lucille Bogan, the first using conventional terminology and then, probably at the behest of the engineers, the full-on version. No, we’re not giving details here, but the sleeve notes do.
A riot or an outrage depending on your perspective. Not for the prudish or faint-hearted.
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