Big Bill Broonzy – Complete Recorded Works 1927 – 1947 Vol 4 (1935-1936)
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Big Bill Broonzy
Complete Recorded Works (c. November 1927 – 15th September 1951)
Vol. 4: 3rd July 1935 to 22nd April 1936
Featuring the recordings of:
Chicago Sanctified Singers: (2 male and 1 female vocal.); accompanied by probably Black Bob, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar probably vocal; probably Louie Lasky, guitar, probably vocal. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; Black Bob, piano. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; Black Bob, piano; Bill Settles, stand-up bass. The Hokum Boys: Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; Casey Bill Weldon, vocal, guitar; prob. Bill Settles, stand-up bass; Washboard Sam, washboard.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Arkansas Blues, Chicago Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Piano, Gospel, Bottleneck-slide Guitar, Hokum,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Big Bill Broonzy was known by just about everybody involved in the music scene in Chicago. By mid-1935, when this volume takes up the story, the depression was easing somewhat and the juke box was countering its threat to one aspect of the musician’s livelihood by providing an opportunity in another in the form of increased recording activity and wider distribution of the product. Although he always worked at one or more “normal” jobs, labouring or serving in stores, Bill seems to have spent most of his life between the studios and the bars at this time and it is strange that, despite his involvement in enumerable sessions, only twenty tracks appeared under his own name on the Bluebird label (those not appearing here can be found on volumes 2 and 3 of this series). After much research and controversy Black Bob‘s real name remains uncertain though it seems probable that he was the Bob Hudson remembered by Memphis Slim. Louis Lasky, whose own work appears on DOCD 5045 The Songster Tradition, is alleged to have taught Bill how to flat-pick; he is also speculated to be the Louis Leslie associated (by “circumstantial” evidence, to quote Dixon and Godrich) with the Chicago Sanctified Singers. Certainly Leslie, Big Bill and Black Bob were all present in the ARC studios when the two Sanctified Singers sides were cut so a likely line up for this group might be Bill or Leslie, guitar, Bob, piano, and a vocal trio made up of Bill, with either Bob or Leslie and an unknown female. The influence of Leroy Carr on Big Bill Broonzy‘s work at this time is marked both on such upbeat numbers as the bouncy Keep Your Hands Off Her (a gentler title than the more usual Keep Your Hands Off It) and such sadly reflective songs as Bad Luck Blues. His voice was never as wistful as Carr’s but he made a conscious effort to study and reproduce the guitar sound of Scrapper Blackwell and supported by the outstandingly sympathetic piano of Black Bob (sometimes augmented by Bill Settles‘ string bass) produced a string of satisfying blues recordings to counterbalance the flood of hokum material that was washing over the market during those years. Big Bill Broonzy‘s involvement with this side of the business saw him working with such groups as The Midnight Ramblers and The State Street Boys. One representative track, The Hokum Boys‘ Keep Your Mind On It, is included here; it sees Big Bill Broonzy taking the vocal backed up by the guitar of Casey Bill Weldon and the sud-busting of Bill’s alleged half-brother Washboard Sam.Keith Briggs Copyright 1992 Document Records.