Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe Vol. 1 (1929-1930)
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Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe
Complete Recordings 18 June 1929 – 10 September 1934
Vol 1: 18th June 1929 to 29th May 1930
Featuring the recordings of:
Kansas Joe And Memphis Minnie: Joe McCoy (Kansas Joe), vocal (1, 2, 3, 5) / guitar; Memphis Minnie, vocal (3, 4, 5) / guitar. Memphis Minnie, vocal (7, 8, 9) / guitar (8, 9); Kansas Joe McCov, vocal (9) / guitar. Memphis Minnie And Kansas Joe, vocal duet; accompanied by own guitar duet. Memphis Minnie, vocal / guitar; Joe McCoy, guitar. Minnie McCoy And Joe Johnson; Memphis Minnie, Kansas Joe, vocal duet; accompanied by own guitar duet. Memphis Minnie, vocal / guitar; accompanied by Memphis Jug Band: Will Shade, harmonica; Charlie Burse, guitar; Hambone Lewis, jug. McCoy And Johnson: Memphis Minnie, Kansas Joe, vocal duet (19,20); accompanied by Memphis Minnie, Kansas Joe, guitar; Memphis Minnie, vocal; accompanied by own and Kansas Joe, guitar (21). Kansas Joe And Memphis Minnie, vocal duet; accompanied by own guitar duet. Kansas Joe, vocal / guitar; Memphis Minnie, guitar
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Memphis Blues, Tennessee Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Jug Band, Blues Harmonica, Female Blues
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes: Recording as Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie at their 1929 debut recording session the couple cut six numbers, three featuring Kansas Joe as a vocalist, two with Minnie taking the vocals and the third found them duetting. These recordings weren’t afforded immediate issue but were released over a period of time. For example, the coupling Bumble Bee / I Want That was not on sale until some fifteen months later. It was to be the suggestive Bumble Bee (“Got the best stinger I’ve ever seen”) that was to make Memphis Minnie. So successful was the song that Victor “borrowed” Minnie to record a version fronting a caucus of the Memphis Jug Band. Vocalion then responded with Bumble Bee No. 2 and New Bumble Bee. The song was such hot property on the race market that in the last six months of 1930, unreleased recordings apart, there were no fewer than five versions, on three different labels, of Bumble Bee three of which are present on this compilation. The sheer drive of the two guitars, the strength of imagery and intuitive awareness of one another’s musical needs made for a perfect team. Take a song like, When The Levee Breaks, that lyrically mirrors the harsh realities of living near the artificial river banks with lines like, “If it keep on raining, levee’s gonna break an’ all these people have no place to stay” whilst the twin guitar rhythms help create a complete fusion of feeling. On less intense, more hokum based numbers like She Wouldn’t Give Me None or Can I Do It For You a variant on the “Mama Let Me Lay It On You” theme) the duo display astonishing empathy in their guitar playing, most notably by Minnie. To quote guitarist Woody Mann on her technique “she seemed to be able to pick sounds from all around Memphis and integrate them into her playing”. As main vocalist Memphis Minnie can be heard on Mister Tango Blues and I’m Talking About You and give good insight into her ability to modulate her voice to suit the mood of the lyric. Whether it be slow meaningful blues or up-tempo lighter material she judiciously croaks, moans, twists and cracks her voice to achieve a fine sense of the dramatic.Alan Balfour Copyright 1991: Document Records