Various – Meaning Of The Blues – Paul Oliver – 4CD + 80 Pages Booklet
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Otis Harris, Sam Collins, Bukka White, Rudy Foster, Charley Patton, Funny Papa Smith, Freddie Spruell, Charley Lincoln, George Noble, Tommy Johnson, Hattie Hudson, Little Buddy Doyle, George Hannah, Ora Brown, Tommy Settles, Kokomo Arnold, Frances Wallace, Alice Moore and many more.
In his 1960 book Blues Fell This Morning, Paul Oliver relates the growth of the blues to the history of the black man in America, and reveals the meaning and significance which the music holds for him. A social study alone can't explain the blues: one has to try and enter his world and explore the background of his themes in order to understand the singer. Using 350 quotations from the recorded blues, the author does exactly this. We go from the slave ship to the plantation, through reconstruction and the ‘Jim Crow' laws of segregation in their basest forms - the ‘freedom' of the chain gang and share cropping, to voodoo, the barbarity of the Ku Klux Klan, and the scourge of incurable diseases. (paraphrased from notes on the original Blues Fell This Morning LP -Philips BBL7369)
That might seem a bit academic and dry but the book was treasured by music fans in the sixties who had just discovered blues music and wanted to know more about it. As well as being an absorbing read that told you more about black people's condition in America than you knew at the time, the book and the accompanying LP (Blues Fell This Morning on Philips BBL7369) showed just how the blues permeated their lives and thinking. It was one of the first books devoted solely to the blues and the LP may well have been the first pre-war blues anthology compiled in the UK. There are those who believe that its influence on the British ‘blues boom' of the sixties is incalculable as there's no doubt that Oliver's later writings - reviews, sleeve-notes, magazine articles and books like Screening The Blues, Conversation With the Blues and Story Of The Blues, were vital to our knowledge and enjoyment of the blues.
The compiler of this 4CD box set, Max Haymes, knows all this, and in his selection of 102 tracks he captures the essence of Oliver's ground breaking research as he re-examines some of the themes from the original book in his 80 page, 21,000 word essay presenting lengthy chapters to accompany the music on each of the CDs. The songs have been carefully chosen to emphasise Max's deliberations on, amongst others, the caste system among blacks (Yellow Girl Blues by Texas Alexander), sexual themes (Sissy Man Blues by Kokomo Arnold and My Pencil Won't Work No More by Bo Carter), hoodoo and superstition (Mojo Hand Blues by Ida Cox), gambling (Four Eleven Forty Four by Papa Charlie Jackson and Policy Dream Blues by Bumble Bee Slim) and bad luck and trouble (Gravel Camp Blues by Lewis Black and No Place To Go by Walter Davis). Aside from these tracks, he also includes mouth watering rarities like Three Sixty Nine Blues by Buddy Doyle, Black Cat Blues by the Old Pal Smoke Shop Four, Kitchen Mechanic Blues by the Excelsior Quartette and Black Cat Makes Thunder by Rudy Foster
Don't expect to find the tracks from the original LP here, Max has included only a couple from that album - maybe because of copyright issues but it's more likely that he considered that other tracks were more relevant to his view. Nothing wrong with that, he's done what he set out to do and that is to celebrate the life and a specific work of Paul Oliver; one of blues music's most loved and respected chroniclers.
Lonnie Johnson: 1. Falling Rain Blues - 3:07 Ora Brown: 2. Jinx Blues - 2:45 Blind Willie McTell: 3. Dark Night Blues - 2:51 Charley Patton: 4. Pony Blues - 3:00 Kokomo Arnold: 5. Milk Cow Blues - 3:07 Tom Dickson: 6. Labor Blues - 3:01 Bukka White: 7. Shake 'Em on Down - 3:03 Tommy Johnson: 8. Lonesome Home Blues - 3:22 Walter Davis: 9. No Place to Go - 2:53 Roosevelt Sykes: 10. Cotton Seed Blues - 2:54 Son House: 11. Dry Spell Blues, Pt. 1 - 3:11 Clara Smith: 12. Steamboat Man Blues - 3:05 Lewis Black: 13. Gravel Camp Blues - 3:00 Ida Cox: 14. Blue Monday Blues - 2:47 Peg Leg Howell: 15. Rock and Gravel Blues - 3:11 Speckled Red: 16. The Right String But the Wrong Yo-Yo - 2:28 Hattie Snow: 17. Make Than Gravel Fly - 2:49 Lewis Black: 18. Rock Island Blues - 3:01 Mamie Smith: 19. Crazy Blues - 3:27 Buddy Boy Hawkins: 20. Snatch It Back Blues - 3:03 Henry Thomas: 21. John Henry - 2:45 Furry Lewis: 22. Cannonball Blues - 3:05 Joshua White: 23. Friendless City Blues - 2:52 Blind Lemon Jefferson: 24. Stocking Feet Blues - 3:07 Sippie Wallace: 25. Stranger's Blues - 2:55 Bill Gaither: 26. Wintertime Blues - 2:27
Ramblin' Thomas: 1. New Way of Living Blues - 3:05 Rudy Foster: 2. Black Gal Makes Thunder - 2:52 Blind Willie McTell: 3. Three Women Blues - 2:43 Texas Alexander: 4. Yellow Girl Blues - 2:48 Sara Martin: 5. Gonna Ramble Blues - 3:00 Edmonia Henderson: 6. Brown Skin Man - 3:09 Barbecue Bob: 7. Brown Skin Gal - 3:06 Lillian Glinn: 8. Brown Skin Blues - 3:30 Barbecue Bob: 9. Chocolate to the Bone - 2:52 Excelsior Quartette: 10. Kitchen Mechanic Blues - 3:05 Alice Moore: 11. Black Evil Blues - 2:53 Blind Joe Reynolds: 12. Outside Woman Blues - 2:57 Lucille Bogan: 13. Reckless Woman - 2:54 Charley Patton: 14. It Won't Be Long - 3:28 Roosevelt Sykes: 15. Little and Low - 3:05 Tommy Johnson: 16. Big Fat Mama Blues - 3:14 Bo Carter: 17. My Pencil Won't Write No More - 2:58 Sam Collins: 18. Signifying Blues - 3:00 Blind Lemon Jefferson: 19. Black Snake Moan - 3:02 Iva Smith: 20. Save My Jelly - 2:57 George Hannah: 21. Freakish Man Blues - 2:49 Kokomo Arnold: 22. Sissy Man Blues - 3:09 Ma Rainey & Her Tub Jug Washboard Band: 23. Prove It on Me Blues - 2:44 Lucille Bogan: 24. B.D. Woman's Blues - 2:59 Speckled Red: 25. The Dirty Dozen - 3:14 Nellie Florence: 26. Jacksonville Blues - 2:57
Ida Cox: 1. Mojo Hand Blues - 3:14 Blind Boy Fuller: 2. Mojo Hidin' Woman - 2:46 Memphis Jug Band: 3. Papa's Got Your Water On - 2:31 Gene Campbell: 4. "Toby" Woman Blues - 3:15 Too Tight Henry: 5. Squinch Owl Moan - 2:44 Old Pal Smoke Shop Four: 6. Black Cat Blues - 3:10 Blind Lemon Jefferson: 7. Broke and Hungry - 3:01 Viola McCoy: 8. Wish I Had You (And I'm Gonna Get You Blues) - 2:49 Ed Bell: 9. Bad Boy - 3:04 Hattie Hudson: 10. Doggone My Good Luck Soul - 3:10 Clara Smith and Her Five Black Kittens: 11. Black Cat Moan - 2:38 Mary Johnson: 12. Those Black Man Blues - 2:54 Funny Paper Smith: 13. Seven Sisters Blues, Pt. 1 - 2:48 14. Seven Sisters Blues, Pt. 2 - 2:56 Memphis Jug Band: 15. Aunt Caroline Dyer Blues - 3:07 Memphis Minnie: 16. I'm a Gamblin' Woman - 3:11 Peg Leg Howell: 17. Skin Game Blues - 3:06 Charley Lincoln: 18. Gamblin' Charley - 3:07 George Noble: 19. If You Lose Your Good Gal, Don't Mess with Mine - 3:01 Blind Lemon Jefferson: 20. Jack O' Diamond Blues [Take 2] - 2:50 Mississippi John Hurt: 21. Stack O' Lee Blues - 2:58 Bumble Bee Slim: 22. Policy Dream Blues - 2:48 Kokomo Arnold: 23. Policy Wheel Blues - 2:57 Papa Charlie Jackson: 24. Four Eleven Forty Four - 3:01 Charlie "Little Buddy" Doyle: 25. Three Sixty Nine Blues - 2:52 Clara Smith: 26. The Clearing House Blues - 2:55
Rube Lacey: 1. Mississippi Jail House Groan - 3:28 Henry Williams: 2. Lonesome Blues - 2:54 Blind Lemon Jefferson: 3. Old Rounder's Blues - 2:47 Charley Patton: 4. Moon Going Down - 3:17 Walter Coleman: 5. Smack That Thing - 3:04 Frances "Barrelhouse Frankie" Wallace: 6. I Had to Smack That Thing - 2:25 Katherine Baker: 7. I Had to Come Back Home Blues - 2:41 Kid Bailey: 8. Rowdy Blues - 3:02 Big Bill Broonzy: 9. Barrelhouse When It Rains - 2:51 Curtis Jones: 10. Blues in the Alley - 2:52 Robert Wilkins: 11. Old Jim Canaan's - 2:53 Louise Johnson: 12. On the Wall - 3:04 Peg Leg Howell: 13. Beaver Slide Rag - 3:23 Freddie Spruell: 14. Low Down Mississippi Bottom Man - 3:26 Tampa Red: 15. You Got to Reap What You Sow - 3:19 Mississippi Sheiks: 16. Sitting on Top of the World - 3:16 Charley Patton: 17. Some Summer Day, Pt. 1 - 3:01 Sam Collins: 18. I'm Still Sitting on Top of the World - 3:16 William McCoy: 19. Mama Blues - 2:54 Alfred Lewis: 20. Friday Moan Blues - 3:15 Lonnie Johnson: 21. Violin Blues - 3:18 Tommy Settles: 22. Shaking Weed Blues - 2:44 Peetie Wheatstraw: 23. Fairasee Woman (Memphis Woman) - 2:46 Mississippi John Hurt: 24. Spike Driver Blues - 3:15 Otis Harris: 25. Waking Blues - 3:30
1. AllMusic - Steve Leggett
When Paul Oliver's Blues Fell This Morning: Meaning in the Blues was published, it was one of the first books to focus on the country blues from the 78-rpm era (which stretched from the 1920s through the very early '50s) as a kind of black American folk music, a music that tackled black culture in all of its concerns, from love, sex, joy, and sadness to the broader sweep of displacement, war, and death, in an often coded, passionate, and poetic black idiom. It remains required reading for anyone interested in the genre, and this wonderful four-disc, 103-track anthology from JSP Records honors and serves as an audio companion to Oliver's groundbreaking book, celebrating the 50th anniversary year of its publication. Assembled by Max Haymes, who also wrote the text for the lovely 80-page booklet that accompanies the box set, Meaning in the Blues collects blues 78s that illustrate key points in Oliver's book, but it also stands alone as a fascinating and engaging survey of early black country blues in all of its forms and variants.
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