Washboard Sam Vol. 4 1939 – 1940
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Complete Recorded Works (20 June 1935 – 27 October 1949)
Vol. 4: 15 May 1939 to 22 March 1940
Featuring the recordings of:
Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Buster Bennett, as on 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; probably Joshua Altheimer, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; prob. Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Buster Bennett, alto sax; Horace Malcolm, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar. Washboard Sam And Buster Bennett, speech; accompanied by Horace Malcolm, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; probably Buster Bennett, alto sax on 17, 18, 19 / soprano sax on 20; Horace Malcolm, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, City Blues, Arkansas Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Piano, Urban Blues
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. This volume of Washboard Sam‘s recordings consists of three sessions. Two-thirds of the songs feature alto saxophone by Buster Bennett, who had a number of sessions under his own leadership beginning in 1945 for Columbia. The initial session by Sam covered in this album produced his all-time best seller Diggin’ My Potatoes, which (as previously mentioned in the notes of an earlier Document album) was reissued by RCA Victor in 1947. The initial session was held on May 15, 1939 and was the first time an alto appeared on Sam’s recordings; it was to become the horn of choice on many sessions to come. Returning on this session was Joshua Altheimer on piano and Big Bill Broonzy on guitar. Another newcomer at this session was Ransom Knowling on string bass. While he only appeared on one other session with Washboard Sam, he was to become a regular on many Bluebird sessions with Big Boy Crudup, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams and others. The first song on this session This Time Is My Time is a thinly disguised version of Roosevelt Sykes‘ Night Time Is The Right Time. Apparently this bit of thievery didn’t bother Sykes too much, as he would accompany Washboard Sam on piano at a session in 1942, and again in 1947. Good Old Easy Street features some nice interplay between Big Bill Broonzy and Ransom Knowling, played at a leisurely pace. Bennett makes his initial appearance on the next song I Believe I’ll Make A Change starting right off as the featured instrument in the introduction. On Wasn’t He Bad the alto is used in the time-honored “call and response” roll. Diggin’ My Potatoes, the next song recorded at this date, was a natural hit with its infectious rhythm. That Will Get It again features alto as the lead instrument. Sam’s next session took place on November 7, 1939. Both Bennett and Broonzy appear on all the eight songs recorded, although Bennett’s roll is limited to talking only on the last song recorded Block and Tackle. No bass is used at this and the next session (March 22, 1940), and the piano seat is taken over for these two sessions by Horace Malcolm. Those listeners who are familiar with Louis Jordan‘s version of Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door will find Sam’s countrified arrangement to be quite unusual. Don’t Fool With Me finds Sam at his threatening best as he tells his woman not to “play Washboard for a fool”. Jersey Cow Blues is based on the Stack-O-Lee melody with the piano carrying the lead, and a brief alto solo. So Early In the Morning bears the influence of Big Bill, sounding a lot like one of his recordings. The final session covered on this album took place on March 22, 1940. Buster Bennett appears on the first four songs recorded then, beginning with the semi-autobiographical Going Back To Arkansas. Louise is a jazz-influenced song, not to be confused with the well-known song of the same title by Johnny Temple. It may possibly be the inspiration for the Five Keys‘ 1952 recording Come Go My Bail, Louise. Oh Babe is a Joy McCoy composition, one of the few songs Wasboard Sam recorded which was not written by himself. In She Fooled Me, Sam is tricked into working with the promise of having the woman “bake me a jellyroll, nice and brown “. Sun Gonna Shine In My Door uses one of the most famous lines in blues lyrics as a starting point, while the session ends with Beale Street Sheik, yet another song drawing inspiration from Memphis’ famous “Home of the Blues”.Victor Pearlin Copyright 1993: Document Records