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American Roots Songbook: Traditional Blues
Genres: Blues, Pop
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Robert N. from CHICAGO, IL
Reviewed on 10/12/2006...
Truly a historic set of recordings by artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Rev. Gary Davis, Charlie Patton, Big Bill Broonzy, Blind Willie McTell and other great founding fathers of the blues.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Ideal intro CD for those curious about country blues
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 10/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the country blues sampler CD my instructor used for the Rock/Jazz/Blues class I took last summer, and as always when some music gets me perked, I jotted down the UPC and title of the CD. These artists' heyday was from the 1920's to 1930's, and the original record hiss is present in the CD transfer. All artists here specialized in blues guitar, and four of them were blind, and all of them suffered with the onset of the Depression and the collapse of the blues market.Blind Lemon Jefferson's interpretation of "Matchbox Blues" leads off, and it's one of his key songs. I can detect songs like Little Richard's "Kansas City" from the rhythm of this song.Like Jefferson, the Reverend Gary Davis was likewise blind and his "I Saw The Light" is an example of songs he did exclusively for religion. His guitar has a richer and deeper timbre. "One morning I was walking on" seems a variation on traditional blues songs openers, "woke up this morning."Mississippi John Hurt's "Candy Man Blues" has a more folky twist to it, warning the women about the candy man. This was one of the songs recorded during his 1928 sessions.Two songs on here are also on the Ghost World soundtrack. The first one is Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman," the song that Thora Birch's character Enid really liked. At least two other artists have covered this--Rory Block and Bonnie Raitt, as "Devil Got My Man" the latter as featured in Martin Scorcese's blues series in Wim Wenders' Soul Of A Man movie. It's a very moody song and my favourite here. "I'd rather be the devil than be that woman's man" he sings in a pained high register. 1931 was the year this song was recorded for Paramount Records, which later went belly-up.Charlie Patton's "Down The Dirt House Blues" is next, and there's a drum or some other thing accompanying this song. His voice is a trace rougher than the others.Blind Willie McTell's high nasally voice comes on when he does one of his classics, "Statesboro Blues", which has been covered by Taj Mahal and the Allman Bros. I'm not good lookin' but I'm some sweet woman's angel child" he sings, and she's a "mighty mean woman.""They treated me like my poor heart was rock and stone." sings Robert Wilkins and "That's No Way To Get Along" as well as "I stood on the roadside and cried all by myself." The Rolling Stones rerecorded this song as "Prodigal Blues" for their Let It Bleed album. Furry Lewis' "Kassie Jones" was one of the Memphis blues classics he recorded for Vocalion and Victor in the late 1920's.Blind Willie Johnson, he with the powerful gritty-stone-ground voice and the fiery guitar does "I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole" about religious conversion. This was his first single for Columbia Records, which sold 10,000 copies.A juke-joint piano accompanies Big Bill Broonzy's "Good Liquor Gonna Carry Me Down" where various tell him warn him of what'll happen if he keeps on drinking. He even keeps on drinking despite seeing a hot woman. Upbeat for a sober subject.In listening to this CD, I got a feeling of the earliest sort of blues and the kind of music that influenced Rory Block, e.g. Skip James, Charlie Patton, and a reminder that rock and roll owes its debt to music such as this, made amid the Mississippi Delta and Memphis scene in the 1920's."