Memphis Minnie Vol. 4: Complete Recorded Works (1938-1939)
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Memphis Minnie; vocal, guitar.
With contributions by;Little Son Joe, vocal guitar.Charlie McCoy, mandolin. Black Bob, piano and others…
Genres: Memphis Blues, Chicago Blues, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Howard Rye.
Memphis Minnie had only one recording date in 1938. Its unusual atmosphere is attributable in main to Charlie McCoy’s mandolin, which introduces a whiff of string bands and minstrelsy, especially noticeable on Long As I Can See You Smile. Genuine double meanings are rare, but the advice in Good Biscuits, “Don’t let no outside woman bake no biscuits for you man,” is equally valid whether taken literally of metaphorically, not that I imagine that the literal meaning was uppermost in the minds of either performers or listeners. The theme is continued in Keep On Eating. Minnie obviously belied in the old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
I’d Rather See Him Dead is in a different idiom, a sombre exposition of confused feelings about a man. “If you don’t sleep with me, I’d rather see him dead,” she says, but, “If I could only get him back, I would be that poor man’s slave”.
With Son Joe on hand, Minnie’s recordings again used guitar-duet accompaniments. All her remaining pre-war records, and indeed most of her post-war records too, make use of this format and the addition from time to time of bass or drums makes very little difference to the results. It seems safe to conclude that Minnie felt that this was the presentation best suited her style. In general, critics have agreed with her.
It is perhaps fanciful to detect an actual sense of having returned to her roots, but that feeling is certainly engendered by Keep You Big Mouth Closed, performed to the tune of “Sittin’ On Top of the World”, with its stolid folk wisdom: “You got to use good judgement and keep your big mouth closed.” The words of Don’t Lead My Baby Wrong: “I have wondered all day and dreamed funny things last night, Trying to find someone to love me and someone treat me right”, equally reflect universal human experiences.
More aggressive is Low Down Man Blues, concerning a “nasty man”. Minnie’s reaction is blunt. “Now, I might get me a young boy and raise him to my hand”, she says.