Blind Joe Taggart – Complete Recorded Works Vol 1 (1926-1928)
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Blind Joe Taggart
Complete Recorded Works 8 November 1926 – 4 December 1930
Vol. 1: 8 November 1926 to c. December 1928. Blind Joe Taggart And Emma Taggart, vocal duet on 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 Blind Joe Taggart, vocal on 5, 6, 9; acc. Blind Joe Taggart, guitar on 3, 4, 5, 6, 9;or: unaccompanied. Blind Joe Taggart And James Taggart, vocal duet; acc. Blind Joe Taggart, guitar. Blind Joe Amos (almost certainly Joe Taggart), vocal / guitar. Blind Joe Taggart, vocal / guitar. Blind Percy And His Blind Band: Blind Percy (poss. Joe Taggart), vocal / kazoo / guitar; unknown, violin; possibly unknown 2nd kazoo. Blind Joe Taggart, vocal /guitar; unknown, guitar / vocal; unknown, violin. Blind Joe Taggart, vocal /guitar; Joshua.White, vocal /guitar. Blind Joe Taggart, vocal /guitar; probably Joshua White, guitar / 2nd vocal on 24
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Carolina Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Gospel, Guitar Evangelist, Blues Violin
Abridged from this album’s original booklet notes. In 1926, the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company of Chicago was attempting to establish their Vocalion Race series in competition with similar series on Okeh, Columbia, and Paramount. Along with the usual jazz groups, vaudeville singers, country blues artists, vocal quartets, and singing preachers, they recorded the religious equivalent of country blues performers: the guitar evangelists. They began by recording religious material from songsters and bluesmen like Sam Butler, whose first release for Vocalion was a religious coupling with guitar accompaniment. The advertisement claimed that Sam “hails from down Carolina way where they know how to sing spiritual music” (Butler’s other release on Vocalion was a blues, as were two of his three Paramount records – see Document DOCD-5036). It is possible that Vocalion was scouting for talent in the Carolinas, as Josh White also met Blind Joe Taggart there. In any case, in November 1926 Taggart became the first of the guitar evangelists to record. The diversity of the material he recorded seems to indicate Vocalion’s willingness to experiment in their search for a hit. The first two tracks were vocal duets with Emma Taggart, presumably Blind Joe’s wife. Three of the six titles feature Taggart’s idiosyncratic guitar accompaniment, which varied little while supporting such disparate melodies as I’ll Be Satisfied and Just Beyond Jordan. Several alternative takes exist from this session and they demonstrate Taggart’s creative genius as a folk artist. Each is a distinctive variation on a theme that nonetheless retains its autonomy. The remaining sessions for Vocalion reinforce Taggart’s status as a major interpreter of the black vernacular tradition. There are two fine duets with the younger sounding James Taggart (probably his son), a superb blues issued under the pseudonym Blind Joe Amos, and the magnificent The Storm Is Passing Over sung in the hoarse, shouting manner usually associated with Blind Gary Davis (see Document DOCD-5060). None of Blind Joe Taggart‘s recorded output approached the sublime heights of his first official session for Paramount, however. In conjunction with a second vocalist (who may be doubling on rudimentary guitar) and a fiddle player, Taggart left us two of the most intriguing recordings in the history of American folk music. It is my contention that Been Listening All The Day and Coin’ To Rest Where Jesus Is provide a window into the immediate post-Civil War period in the South when a shared black and white musical tradition existed. A black fiddle tradition in the Southeast was already in decline when these and related recordings by performers like Andrew and Jim Baxter were made. Blind Joe Taggart and his vocal partner appear to be quite comfortable with their complicated, overlapping singing style, effortlessly exchanging lead and harmony lines until it becomes difficult to determine who is singing which part. One would be hard pressed to find sacred music as oddly compelling as these two superlative performances, but the record must have sold poorly as only a few copies are known to have survived.Ken Romanowski February 1993 Copyright 1993: Document Records