Big Bill Broonzy – Complete Recorded Works 1927 – 1947 Vol 5 (1936-1937)
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Big Bill Broonzy
Complete Recorded Works (c. November 1927 – 15th September 1951)
Vol 5: 1 May 1936 to 31st January 1937
Featuring the recordings of:
Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; Black Bob, piano; “Heebie Jeebies”, wood blocks. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; Black Bob, piano; Bill Settles, stand-up bass “Heebie Jeebies” woodblocks on 3. The Hokum Boys: Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; Casey Bill Weldon, guitar, vocal / chorus; Black Bob, piano: Bill Settles, stand-up bass. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; Probably Horace Malcolm, piano; Charlie McCoy, mandolin. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; Black Bob, piano; Bill Settles, stand-up bass. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; probably Myrtle Jenkins, piano; Bill Settles, stand-up bass. Midnight Ramblers: Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; Black Bob, piano; unknown, stand-up bass; possibly Washboard Sam, scat vocal. Chicago Black Swans: Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; accompanied probably by Herb Morand or possibly Alfred Bell, trumpet; Arnett Nelson, clarinet; Black Bob, piano; possibly Tampa Red, guitar; unknown, percussion. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; accompanied by Mr. Sheiks (Alfred Bell), trumpet, on 16, 17, 19, 20; possibly . Fred Williams. drums on 19 and 20. Bill Settles, stand-up bass; possibly Fred Williams, drums on 19, 20. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; accompanied by Punch Miller, trumpet on 21, 23; Black Bob, piano; Bill Settles, stand-up bass; Fred Williams, drums on 23 / woodblocks on 22, 24.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Arkansas Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Piano, Hokum, Bottleneck slide Guitar,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. In 1934 Big Bill Broonzy had recorded Milk Cow Blues for Bluebird (see volume two of this series) and it had been a sufficient hit for him to assay a Milk Cow Blues No. 2 for ARC, this time filling out the sound by utilising Black Bob‘s piano for support. This basic line-up of guitar, piano, string bass and woodblocks was given an extra dimension when Charlie McCoy was added playing the mandolin. Charlie, like Big Bill, was a jobbing musician about Chicago. He had found his niche when, along with his brother ‘Hallelujah’ Joe McCoy he became part of the basic line-up of the Harlem Hamfats. This group used a ‘New Orleans’ front line of trumpet and clarinet backed-up by a piano and a guitar/mandolin/drums rhythm section. The session with Charlie produced Bill’s complaint about his addiction to playing craps in Seven-Eleven (“My point was a nine, I stopped at six – and that trey came flyin”‘) and about his girl-friend’s bad actin’ in You Know I Got A Reason. (Is there an accusation of lesbianism in the line “You say that woman you run with is your lady friend, it don’t look much like it for the shape I caught y’all in”?) During the same period, May / June 1936, Bill was still performing as part of The Hokum Boys, singing and playing the guitar on Nancy Jane a number they had recorded before, without it being released, as far back as 1930. A further Big Bill / Black Bob session took place in the September of 1936. It included Black Widow Spider in which Bill may have mixed his genders by representing himself as a spider with “red stripes under my belly” after making it sore by “crawlin’ down your wall”. The same combination also recorded in November of that year, one track, Out With The Wrong Woman being issued as by The Midnight Ramblers. Several songs and alternative takes of material recorded around this time, i. e. Cherry Hill Take 2, were not issued until they appeared on LP in the late 60s / early 70s. On the 26th January 1937 Big Bill Broonzy took the vocal and guitar part for a group called the Chicago Black Swans. This was a loose collection of musicians including Herb Morand and Arnett Nelson, the front line of the Hamfats. The same group recorded the same two titles on the same day with vocals by Mary Mack for release as by The State Street Swingers. Further confusion is added by the fact that Bill had already recorded Don’t Tear My Clothes (presumably implicitly “No. 1”, see volume three of this series) with a group known as The State Street Boys whose more rural sound had been built around the violin of Zeb Wright. Never slow to adapt to trends Bill featured a trumpet and drums on his next session (although he refers to a cornet on Come Up To My House). After cutting his commentary on the recent flooding of the Ohio River in his magnificent Southern Flood he brought forward “Mr Sheiks” and Fred Williams to up-date his sound to that of Big Bill’s Orchestra (?). “Mr Sheiks“, whose identity has been the subject of much speculation, was no Herb Morand and two days later Big Bill Broonzy was back in the studio to try again – this time in the company of Ernest ‘Kid Punch’ Miller, who came, like Morand, from a New Orleans background and was one of the foremost jazzmen of his generation. Hedging, Bill also cut for his older audience on this session producing the delicately picked Horny FIog which included references to the south, north migration along with the wonderful line dismissing his troublesome girlfriend: “I’m tired of poppin’ my belly for you”.Keith Briggs Copyright 1992 Document Records