Big Bill Broonzy – Complete Recorded Works 1927 – 1947 Vol 9 (1939)
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Big Bill Broonzy
Complete Recorded Works (c. November 1927 – 15th September 1951)
Vol. 9: 11th May to 8th December 1939
Featuring the recordings of:
Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; accompanied by Odell Rand, clarinet / alto sax; Joshua Altheimer, piano; Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; accompanied by Joshua Altheimer, piano (except on 19); Fred Williams, drums. Big Bill Broonzy, vocal, guitar; accompanied by Joshua Altheimer, piano; Fred Williams, drums.
Genres: Blues, City Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Urban Blues, Chicago Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Piano, Arkansas Blues,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Big Bill Broonzy was as popular and prolific an artist in 1939 as at any time in his career. For his first session after the Memphis Five date in February Bill called upon the talents of Odell Rand and Ransom Knowling for back up to his own guitar, Josh Altheimer‘s piano and Fred Williams drums. Knowling was probably one of the most sought-after bass players in the city, listen to his slapping on Ride Alberta Ride to see why, and Rand never seemed to want for work for his clarinet, although listening to some of the lack-lustre and lifeless performances here it is hard to see just what Bill appreciated about his work. Maybe he just thought it helped to produce a more sophisticated overall sound. One stand-out track from this session is She Never, a tale of female duplicity that inspired many, Brownie McGhee and the obscure Harvey Hill among them, to produce versions of their own at a later date. Even more popular was Too Many Drivers, (“you told me you had one driver – you got two or three”) which further extended the “female as automobile” metaphor so prevalent in blues lyrics and which spawned a post war hit for Lowell Fulson. It was back to old standbys Josh Altheimer and drummer Fred Williams for his next round in the studio which produced a follow up to Bill’s hit Just A Dream, labelled No. 2, on which Altheimer plays a cascading piano part while Williams bashes away at the drums with far more force than finesse. In view of his later trips to these shores Big Bill Broonzy‘s observation, on Dreamy Eyed Woman, that “if you was born in England I believe you would ‘pass’ over there” may seem prescient but it was only a facet of his oft-made contention that “beauty is only skin deep – ugly is to the bone”. By the end of 1939 war had broken out in Europe and, although America was not yet directly involved, Europe’s misfortune, after the WPA and CCC and other manifestations of Roosevelts New Deal, represented a final nail in the coffin of depression in America. It looked as if Bill’s Big Money might come round again.Keith Briggs Copyright 1993: Document Records.