Kokomo Arnold – Complete Recordings 1930 – 1938 Vol. 3 (1936-1937)
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Complete Recorded Works 17 May 1930 – 12 May 1938
Vol. 3: 22nd May 1936 to 12th March 1937
Featuring the recordings of:
Alice Mooore, vocal; accompanied by Peetie Wheatstraw, piano; Kokomo Arnold, guitar. Signifying Mary Johnson, vocal; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes, piano; Kokomo Arnold, guitar. Kokomo Arnold, vocal / guitar; unknown, piano. Oscar’s Chicago Swingers: Sam Theard, vocal; accompanied by Odell Rand, clarinet; Kokomo Arnold, guitar; unknown, guitar; Albert Ammons, piano; unknown, drums. Kokomo Arnold, vocal / guitar; Peetie Wheatstraw, piano; unknown, stand-up bass. Kokomo Arnold, vocal / guitar.
Genres: Country Blues, Country Blues guitar, Bottleneck-slide-guitar, Georgia Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Blues Piano, Female Blues, National Guitar,Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. On 22 May 1936 Decca proposed to record sessions with two of its female artists and needed a backing group. Both of the ladies came from a St. Louis background and belonged to the same loose aggregation of performers that included primitive trombonist Ike Rogers, pianists Henry Brown and Roosevelt Sykes, Charlie Jordan and… Peetie Wheatstraw. One of them, “Signifying” Mary Johnson had achieved her current surname by being married to blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson between 1925 and 1932. Alice Moore had a similar story, having recorded for Paramount during 1929-30 and joining Decca in 1934. She had worked with Peetie Wheatstraw before, so he was an obvious choice to back her up. And for a guitarist? Wheatstraw usually worked with Charlie Jordan or Casey Bill Weldon though, of late, Mayo Williams had paired him off with Kokomo Arnold. The results open this 3rd volume of the complete works of Kokomo Arnold. His efforts, both before and after this session, in the support of Peetie Wheatstraw and Roosevelt Sykes will be found on volumes dedicated to those worthies. Alice Moore had a somewhat nasal voice nicely set off by Wheatstraw’s rolling piano and some untypical single string work from Kokomo who only busts out with his trademark bottleneck rushes here and there on Three Men and I’m Going Fishing Too (a title that must have appealed to the angler in Arnold). Only one of the Mary Johnson tracks was issued; an ode to Delmar Avenue (actually Boulevard), formerly Morgan Street, a famous St. Louis thoroughfare running west from the Mississippi. Mary was just as tough voiced as her nickname made her out to be. Decca decided on a little experiment in July of 1936 when they incorporated Kokomo into Oscar’s Chicago Swingers a sort of Harlem Hamfats set-up backing the vocals of Lovin’ Sam Theard. Just how successfully Kokomo’s unique sound fitted in with a group that consisted of two guitars, a clarinet, piano and drums you can judge yourself. Kokomo’s career had about two years to run at this date. He was still recording under his own name and if his performances were getting to be a little stereotyped he could still pull minor blues masterpieces like Wild Water Blues out of the bag and was far from being a burnt out case. He was always a strong personality and in the final analysis would do what suited him best. At the moment he was sitting pretty, he worked for money as much as any enjoyment he might gain, and with his booze business to fall back on he could take or leave the music game at his choice. Keith Briggs Copyright 1991 & 2008 Document Records.