Jim Jackson Vol 1 1927-1928
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Complete Recorded Works 10 October 1927 – February 1930
Vol. 1: 10 October 1927 – 27 August 1928
Jim Jackson, vocal, guitar.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Memphis Blues, Songster.
Abridged from this albums booklet notes. Brought to Chicago from Memphis by J. Mayo Williams, then scouting black talent for Vocalion, Jim Jackson hit big with his very first release, the two-part Kansas City Blues. It sold well, spawned sequel discs, was covered by many singers, and stayed in the blues repertoire for many years. Although Kansas City Blues became closely identified with Jackson, as was no doubt intended (compare the full title of the record), it nevertheless came out of folk tradition; Robert Wilkins claimed Jackson got the song from him, and the Memphis Jug Band recorded their version slightly before Jackson. In later years, the text became more or less fixed, and the song lost its folk character as a vessel to be filled with lyrics; a process which is paralleled in Jackson’s own recording career, during which he made the transition from using traditional material to creating original blues expressly for recording. Jim Jackson usually strummed his guitar, although he had some pretty pattern picks at his disposal as well (compare Old Dog Blue and I Heard The Voice Of A Porkchop); he sang in a strong voice, with a heavy vibrato, one that would carry well in the streets and from the medicine show stage. As Paul Oliver has pointed out, “his total output is one of the richest stores of traditional songs”, often including verses collected by folklorists in the early years of the century; Old Dog Blue, for instance, was collected in 1909. Jim Jackson‘s records also preserve elements of composed songs from the turn of the century that appealed to black audiences: My Monday (Woman) Blues was based on the 1900 coon song “I’ve Got A Gal For Ev’ry Day In The Week”, with lyrics by the Irish-American Pat Rooney, and music by the German-American Harry von Tilzer. Jim Jackson was by no means the only one to record it; nor was he the only one to point out that his “Monday woman” was a prostitute, and give directions to where she could be found. I’m A Bad Bad Man, on the other hand, was partly based on an 1894 song by black composer Gussie Davis, “I’ve Been Hoodooed”, although its acceptance of stereotypes (“Give a colored man a white-handled razor, and a crap game he will find”) is as disturbing as its violence (“He’ll chop enough meat off his head, for to feed all the dogs in town”); strange that this song, and its equally violent flipside, should have appealed to that most amiable of men, John Jackson. In late January 1928, the enterprising Victor company sent a field recording unit to Memphis where, among others, they recorded Jim Jackson. (Kansas City Blues had only been released on 8th December 1927, so Victor wasted little time in stealing Vocalion’s hottest act.) Some of Jackson’s songs were remakes of Vocalion material, and he continued to use traditional and medicine show material like I’m Wild About My Lovin’; but from now on, he was also to record original, thematic songs like the witty Bootlegging Blues, and Policy Blues, with its advice to play “the black man and the trey, and 4 -11- 44”. Jackson returned to Vocalion in 1929 (see DOCD-5115), but all through 1928 he was with Victor.Chris Smith Copyright 1992 Document Records