Leroy Carr Vol. 2 (1929-1930) – Full Album
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The complete recorded works (19 June 1928 – 25 February 1935)
Vol. 2: 19 June 1929 to 19 March 1929
Featuring the recordings of:
Leroy Carr, vocal, piano; Scrapper Blackwell, guitar.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Piano, Kazoo, Indianapolis, Tennessee Blues, Hokum,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Indianapolis bluesman Pete “Guitar” Franklin‘s mother, Flossie, used to have Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell “rooming” at her house and he recounted to Art Rosenbaum in 1960 that of the two Blackwell was the one with the aggressive temperament – which had originally led his grandfather nicknaming him “Scrapper”. It seems that as Carr’s career began to blossom, so Blackwell started to harbour a resentment that his own recording career was suffering at the expense of Leroy’s success. Apparently their manager, Guernsey, spent much of his time smoothing over the differences between the mild mannered Carr and the volatile Blackwell, especially when they had been drinking; “Drunk or sober, Leroy was nice. Scrapper was a damn fool drunk or sober”, was Pete Franklin‘s recollection of the relationship. Leroy and Scrapper returned to the studios in June and July 1929 and, perhaps for some of the reasons described or simply because conditions weren’t conductive to successful recording, of the twenty-two titles cut many songs were repeated and in the event only three, That’s All Right For You, Wrong Man Blues and the unique Naptown Blues, were released. However this wasn’t necessarily an indication that Carr was getting stale or running out of ideas – as had been the case with other heavily recorded blues artists – far from it. The recordings made in August that year and January the next year bear witness to Carr having mined a new vein of material; material that not only had variety but also was moving away from the formulaic sound of his earlier recordings. He attempted some Tampa Red / Georgia Tom type hokum pieces with the nonsense lyrics to match, a genre which was very popular with black audiences of the time. Duetting with Blackwell he performed light-hearted numbers like, Getting All Wet, That’s Tellin’ Em, Papa Wants A Cookie and Memphis Town. Interestingly the meter of all four is based on that of the well-known Dirty Dozens which Carr also cut at the same session. Carr’s fondness for this particular melody was probably inspired by the enormous success that Speckled Red enjoyed with the number for Brunswick four months previous. Indeed, Carr’s own rendition of The Dirty Dozen is so reminiscent of Reds, even down to the boogie piano, that it’s probably a fair assumption that Leroy Carr learnt it either from having heard the song on radio or from the record itself. It has been reported that both Carr and Blackwell had, at one time or another, separately served prison sentences for bootlegging. Therefore they were no strangers to prison conditions or the effect incarceration had on relationships. The sessions in August 1929 and January 1930 witnessed Leroy Carr recording three blues whose central theme was incarceration and the problems it caused. The double-sided release Christmas In Jail – Ain’t It A Pain / Prison Cell was supposedly dedicated to a friend who had experienced such a jail term, while Workhouse Blues found Carr at his most lyrical:Please Mister Jailer, please unlock this door for me, (x 2) This jail is full of blues, I know they done come down on me. If I had done like my baby told me, (x 2) I would not be in the jail with six long months to stay. I’m a hard working prisoner, sentenced without a trial (x 2) My heart is almost breaking, must be that last long mile. It was 1930 and Leroy Carr‘s “last long mile” into alcoholism had already begun; something he was well aware of as his subsequent recordings attest. Alan Balfour Copyright 1992: Document Records.