Complete Victor Titles with Alternative Takes (1928 1929)
Featuring the recordings of:
Frank Stokes, vocal / guitar Frank Stokes, vocal / guitar vocal / guitar; Dan Sane, guitar Frank Stokes, vocal / guitar; Will Batts, violin
Genres: Memphis, Memphis Blues, Tennessee Blues, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Ragtime Guitar, Blues Violin
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. With nearly forty songs issued on record, some of them in two parts, Frank Stokes was one of the most extensively recorded of the Memphis blues singers of the 20s; only Jim Jacksons total of recordings is comparable, and many of Jacksons were remakes of Kansas City Blues. Like Jackson, Stokes blends blues with songs from the medicine shows and from the ragtime days of his childhood. Not only was his repertoire one of the most interesting of its time, it was superbly sung, and backed, whether solo, in partnership with Dan Sane, or with Will Batts, by some of the most accomplished and appropriate blues and ragtime playing on record. When Victor’s field recording unit came to Memphis early in 1928, among the black musicians waiting for it was Frank Stokes. Not only was his repertoire one of the most interesting of its time, it was superbly sung, and backed, whether solo, in partnership or with Will Batts, by some of the most accomplished and appropriate blues and ragtime playing on record. He had already made records for Paramount with his regular partner, Dan Sane (see Document DOCD-5012), and it was probably with Sane that he cut his first session for Victor. At this session, in February 1928, the emphasis was on blues, rather than the older songs that were also part of Stokes’ repertoire; but when Victor returned in August, to record Stokes solo, he played I Got Mine, one of a body of pre-blues songs about gambling, stealing and living high. More up to date was Nehi Mamma Blues, which puns on the Nehi soft drink and the knee high skirts that were the fashion sensation of the jazz Age. Dan Sane rejoined Frank Stokes for the second day of the August 1928 session, and they produced a remarkable two-part version of Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, a song well known in versions by Bessie Smith and Jimmy Witherspoon, but one which pre-dates blues recording. 1929 saw Frank Stokes and Dan Sane briefly rejoining Paramount, and resuming their “Beale Street Sheiks” (see Document DOCD-5012) billing, but in September Stokes was back on Victor to make his last recordings, with Dan Sane replaced by the fiddle of their string band associate Will Batts. Many of his songs were autobiographical as both the promiscuous ladies’ man and as the rejected lover pleading for another chance. Will Batts matches his varying moods perfectly whether with bouncy chords on the macho South Memphis or with the seductive, shimmering melody on Right Now Blues that obeys Stokes injunction, “Don’t be rough with me Batts, be easy like you used to.
Chris Smith Copyright 1990, 2000, 2011 Document Records