Leroy Carr Vol. 6 (1934-1935)
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Complete Recorded Works (19 June 1928 – 25 February 1935)
Vol. 6: 17 December 1934 to 25 February 1935
Featuring the recordings of:
Leroy Carr, vocal, piano; Scrapper Blackwell, guitar, speech on 1; Josh White, 2nd guitar.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Piano, Tennessee Blues, Indianapolis Blues,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell made their last sides for Vocalion over the two day period 17/18 December 1934 and if Carrs choice of material was any indication of his mood, then it was indeed a sombre one. Titles like the mournful Black Wagon (you gonna ride when that black wagon comes), the rolling Shining Pistol (gonna get me a brand new pistol, with a long shiny barrel) and the all too real images conjured up by his startlingly matter of fact approach to suicide, were abundant:Took me a Smith an Wesson and blew out my brains (x2) I didn’t take no poison, I couldn’t stand the strain l ain’t no coward and I will tell you why (X2) I just tired of living, but wasn’t afraid to die
Due to its subject matter the song, Suicide Blues, not surprisingly failed to get a release while the up-tempo, almost barrelhouse, Its Too Short, with its suggestions of sexual inadequacies
Baby I can’t play too long, I’m just a skinny fellow and I ain’t very strong
did favour release. Then Leroy Carrs contract with Vocalion ended, Tampa Red, who was recording for rival company Bluebird, has claimed that he was responsible for persuading them into changing labels. Apparently Tampa took them to the Bluebird studios but during the signing of the contract a dispute broke out between Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell concerning its terms and conditions, with the latter becoming jealous because Leroys fame was getting him the lions share of the royalty payment. Despite the antagonism they proceeded to record but after the first four numbers Scrapper became angry again and, depending on which source is to be believed, was either ejected from the studio or departed of his own accord. In hindsight, it is far more likely that the session supervisors, rather than abandon the recording date, chose to calm matters down by placating Blackwell with suggestions of his own session in an adjoining studio (where he cut two instrumentals), leaving Carr to complete the one they had started. Following the altercation, Leroy resumed the session with a ferocious sounding Just A Rag (one can almost envisage the recording engineer asking Carr for the title of the number and being greeted with the frosty retort, it’s just a rag!) but he then lapsed into three introspective blues, each becoming more lachrymose than its predecessor until ending the session with the prophetic Six Cold Feet In The Ground:Just remember me baby when Im in six feet of cold, cold ground (x2) Always think of me mama, just say a good man has gone down. Dont cry for me baby, baby after Im gone (x2) I jest a good man loved you and aint done nothing wrong. Just lay my body baby in six cold feet of ground (x2) Well I have been the loser when the deal done gone down.
Three months later, while at an all-night party, Leroy Carr suffered a severe attack of nephritis and he died on Monday morning 29 April, 1935, just one month into his thirtieth year. His passing was mourned by many musicians some, like Bumble Bee Slim and Little Bill Gaither, cut tributes but the most poignant of these was recorded for Champion the month after his death – My Old Pal Blues by Scrapper Blackwell (BDCD-6030).Alan Balfour Copyright 1992 & 2008 Document Records