Leroy Carr Vol 5 1934
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Complete Recorded Works (19 June 1928 – 25 February 1935)
Vol. 5: 14 August 1934 to 14 December 1934
Leroy Carr, vcl/pno; Scrapper Blackwell, guitar on 14, 15, 16, 17.guitar / speech on 1; Josh White, guitar (1 to 11 except on 2) / speech on 1, guitar added on 13
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Piano, Tennessee, Indianapolis,
Abridged from this album’s original booklet notes. By mid-1934 Leroy Carr‘s health and general demeanour were in sharp decline. Unbeknownst to him, but later confirmed by his death certificate, he was suffering from kidney failure. In an attempt to dull the pain that this was causing, he drank even more excessively. Whatever the drinking might have been doing to Carr’s health it didn’t seem to have any adverse effect on the quality of his recordings. If there was any noticeable change it was more in the element of foreboding expressed by his blues. It was as if he could almost foresee that he was headed for an early grave “this old life I’m living sure ain’t gonna last me very long”-, but just how early would’ve probably surprised even Leroy Carr: His perennial problem of coming to terms with unsuccessful relationships were also becoming more focused during that period. In Cruel Woman Blues he sang with renewed bitterness:All of this schooling education didn’t mean a thing to me (x2) When I met a good looking woman that was the end of me This woman treated me mean, she’s the cruellest I’ve ever seen (x2) The house is always dirty and her cooking I swear it didn’t clean
In early August, Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell had made a “guest” appearance at a Josh White session as his accompanists. Four songs were cut, two of which, not unnaturally, were Leroy Carr numbers. One was Carr’s 1932, Gone Mother, while the other was the recently recorded, Mean Mistreater, which had also been covered on Bluebird the previous June by Tampa Red covered on Bluebird the previous June by Tampa Red. The collaborations with White were subsequently released as by Pinewood Tom And His Blues Hounds and this brief liaison may well account for White’s appearance as second guitarist at two of Carr’s sessions in December 1934. The first of which was held on 14th December and it would seem that it was far from successful, as of the numbers recorded only half were commercially released; those that weren’t required more than one attempt to achieve the desired result. Even then these didn’t come up to the Company’s expectation despite the driving interaction between Josh White’s facile guitar and that of Scrapper’s string-slapping on numbers like Broken Hearted Man. One song that was issued from the session was the prison blues Eleven Twenty Nine but its subject was quite unlike his earlier Prison Bound or Christmas In Jail; it was far from the perspective of a girlfriend sent to the chain gang:Now I’m gonna see the judge and talk to him myself (x2) Tell him that he sent my gal to the county road and left me by myself. Then I heard the jailer say, Hello prisoners fall in line (x2) I’m also talkin’ about that long-chain woman that got 11.29
It was a common, though rarely remarked upon, occurrence for chain gangs to be of mixed sex and, perversely, it was the older women who did the labouring while the younger ones performed less strenuous tasks like carrying shovels etc, hence Carr’s well observed reference to the jailer’s comment of, “also talkin’ about that long chain woman that got 11.29” – 11.29 being a year.Alan Balfour Copyright 1992: Document Records.