Complete Recorded Titles 1927-1931
Featuring the recordings of:
Sam Collins, vocal / guitar. John D. Fox, vocal; accompanied by Sam Collins, guitar. Sam Collins (as by Salty Dog Sam), vocal / guitar
Genres; Blues, Country Blues, Mississippi Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Bottleneck-slide Guitar.
Abridged from this albums booklet notes. Sam Collins, “Salty Dog Sam“, was something of an enigma to record collectors in the late fifties and early sixties. The bulk of the known facts regarding Sam Collins‘ life are the results of field work undertaken by American collector Gayle Dean Wardlow. It was discovered that Collins was raised in McComb, Mississippi, birth-place of another, later, innovator, Bo Diddley. Despite its location in the Sunflower state, McComb was just across the line from Louisiana and it was in that state that Sam Collins was born to Sam Sr. and Sophie in August 1887. By the time he had reached maturity he was carrying his music to the barrelhouses in an area that covered both states. This stamping-ground seems to have overlapped one being worked by Joe Holmes, a son of McComb who relocated in Sibley, Louisiana, because the two men formed one of those loose partnerships that we hear of so often in blues history. Maybe they knew each other from McComb, before Holmes moved to Louisiana. Joe was only to record once; for Paramount in 1932, two years after Sam’s last session – and under the name “King Solomon Hill“. The result of all this cross-fertilisation is to be heard on the disc now before you. By accepted standards Sam’s limited slide guitar work is often out of tune. Out of tune to our ears that is but not to Sam’s because it fits perfectly with a voice employing what is often described as an “eerie” falsetto to earn its owner the nom du disque “Crying” Sam Collins.
Sam’s exact relationship with John D. Fox is not clear either. He played guitar in support of this light-voiced singer during one session in 1927 from which, inexplicably, none of the numbers cut under his own name were ever released. Apart from the blues that he cobbled together from traditional verses and personalised so skilfully with own additions, he could sing spirituals and Vaudeville ditties. He even made the first recording of the folk staple Midnight Special.
Once his recording career was over Sam Collins became, once more, the shadowy figure that he had been in his youth. The bare bone of his story is that he moved north to Chicago where he died in 1949. But wherever he finally located, Sam’s music was firmly lodged in the south and it is from there that his “eerie” falsetto and “strange” guitar address us across the years.
Keith Briggs Copyright 1991 & 2008 Document Records.