Arthur Big Boy Crudup – Complete Recorded Works 1941 – 1954 Vol 2 (1946 – 1949)
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Arthur Big Boy Crudup
Complete Recorded Works 1941 1954
Vol. 2: 6th September 1946 to 11th March 1949
Featuring the recordings of:
Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, vocal / guitar; Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass; Judge Riley, drums.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Mississippi Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Urban Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Blues Guitar,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. In “Crudup’s After Hours”, Big Boy Crudup refers back to a huge 1940 instrumental hit on Bluebird by the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra featuring pianist Avery Parrish, who also composed the piece. Crudup creates a sad and lonesome mood as he singsI’ve got no one to love me, I’m in a big house by myself (x2), After hours, after hours, believe you tryin’ to find somebody else.
This first title recorded at this September, 1946 session was a Chicago Blues, like Frank Sinatra‘s “Chicago”, a paean of praise for the Windy City where Crudup found a modicum of fame and just a little fortune. This session was the first of nine that had Arthur accompanied by both drums and string bass. Three of the titles recorded were up tempo and shared the same melody, while having different lyrics. The most successful of the three, both musically and commercially, was a song called That’s All Right. It is impossible to avoid discussing the Elvis Presley connection at this point. In an early interview Presley was asked about his favourite (rhythm and) blues singers and he volunteered the names Big Bill Broonzy and Big Boy Crudup. He had by then recorded three of Arthur Crudup‘s songs. Elvis Presley‘s version of That’s All Right, Mama had been on one side of his first record for Sun, issued July 19th, 1954, an exciting rendition that had given an initial boost to his career (the song was later recorded by a variety of pop, rock and country artists, including such big names as Rick Nelson, Bob Dylan, Marty Robbins and Rod Stewart). Less well known are Elvis’ equally excellent versions of Arthur’s My Baby Left Me, which he recorded for RCA-Victor an January 30th, 1956 (it was the “B” side of the million selling I Want You, I Need You, I Love You), and So Glad You’re Mine, recorded at the same session and included in Presley’s second LP album, simply titled “Elvis”. Arthur is on record as having stated that he liked Presley’s treatment of his songs. Not that he saw any money from Elvis’s recordings, although payments were made to Wabash Music, Lester Melrose‘s music publishing company. After Melrose’s death, Wabash Music was sold to another company but by then Melrose had already sold publishing rights for the three songs to Elvis Presley Music Inc. Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup recorded several pieces that harked back to his Mississippi roots. Crudup’s Vicksburg Blues was a revamped version of the 1930 Little Brother Montgomery classic, which utilized the melody of 44 Blues. Dirt Road Blues was derived from Charlie Patton‘s 1929 Paramount recording, while Dust My Broom (which Crudup recorded 2 years before Elmore James) was the Robert Johnson blues which became an anthem of the 1960s Blues Revival. Arthur’s Dirt Road retains the duple rhythm of the original but awkwardly incorporates the That’s All Right lyrics. It must have been very popular on the jukeboxes, judging by the wear on that side of my copy. Crudup serenaded a variety of ladies on record – Ethel Mae, Katie Mae (a 1946 hit for Lightnin’ Hopkins on Aladdin 167), Roberta, Pearly Lee and Nelvina, or more correctly, ‘Melvanie’, the subject of Big Joe Williams‘ 49 Highway Blues (Bluebird B-5996) and Smoky Babe‘s Melvanie Blues (Bluesville BVLP-1063). She’s Just Like Caldonia would have struck a responsive chord with black record buyers as it referred back to Louis Jordan‘s great hit (Caldonia), although Crudup’s song is, of course, quite different. Rather than taking the familiar macho bluesman’s stance, Arthur (like Lonnie Johnson) sometimes demonstrates a more sympathetic outlook in his lyrics, in No More Lovers, for example, he eschews violence in the termination of a relationship, instead suggesting a transition to just “being friends”. Look On Yonder’s Wall had been a hit for Jazz Gillum in 1946 (Victor 20-1974). Arthur revived it under its alternative title of Hand Me Down My Walking Cane, it was later recorded by Elmore James (Fire 504). Come Back Baby was also recorded by Dr. Ross (Sun 193), whose version of That’s All Right, Mama for Sun remains unissued. In March, 1949 for the only time in his association with Bluebird / Victor, Big Boy Crudup recorded on two successive days, making up for not recording at all in 1948, and as usual every title was issued, testifying to his continuing popularity, despite the emergence of new blues stars like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, who would soon eclipse his sales (One of Hooker’s early hits, I’m In The Mood, may well have been inspired by Crudup’s 1945 recording of the same title). For now, however, Big Boy Crudup was still a blues king and as the decade closed, Lester Melrose could look back with satisfaction at his perspicacity in signing Crudup back in 1941.Bob Groom Copyright 1993 Document Records