Lonnie Johnson – Complete Recorded Works 1925 – 1932 Vol. 2 (1926-1927)
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Complete Recorded Works 4 November 1925 2 August 1932
Vol. 2: 13th August 1926 to 12th August 1927
Featuring the recordings of:
Lonnie Johnson, vocal, harmonium on 1 / guitar on 2; James Johnson, violin on 1. Lonnie Johnson, guitar solo. Lonnie Johnson, vocal (except on 7, 8) / guitar / prob. speech on 8; James Johnson, guitar; probably John Erby, piano on 8. Lonnie Johnson, vocal / guitar; Jack Erby, piano. Helen Humes, vocal; acc. poss. DeLoise Searcy, piano; Lonnie Johnson, guitar. Joe Brown, vocal; accompanied by DeLoise Searcy, piano; Lonnie Johnson, guitar. Raymond Boyd, vocal; accompanied by DeLoise Searcy, piano; Lonnie Johnson, guitar. Lonnie Johnson, guitar; Lazy Harris (possibly Deloise Searcy or John Erby), piano. Lonnie Johnson, vocal / guitar.
Genres: Louisiana Blues, New Orleans Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Guitar, Blues Violin, Jazz Guitar, Female Blues Vocal, Guitar Solo
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Lonnie Johnson closed the eight title session of 13 August 1926 with two blues, one backed by the strange combination of his own harmonium and his brother James’s violin, the other with just his own guitar. This marked the end of the bewildering display of instrument switching to be heard on Volume 1 (DOCD-5063); not for nearly three years was Lonnie to accompany himself on any instrument but guitar. As if to confirm this decision, he dropped into the studio the next day, Saturday, to cut the dazzling guitar solo To Do This, You Got To Know How, based on a lose 12 bar structure, but in practice owing little to the blues. 1927 found the two brothers back in the studio, both playing guitar; I Done Tole You, unissued at the time, hints at the revolutionary series of instrumental duets Lonnie was soon to cut with Eddie Lang. (So, too, had the chromaticisms on Sweet Woman, See For Yourself.) As ever, Johnson’s lyrics were carefully structured, thoughtful essays, often on his favourite subject of the ways of women and men, and sometimes moralising (Treat ‘Em Right) or sentimental (A Broken Heart That Never Smiles). South Bound Water was testimony to his song writing ability, for it was produced even as the 1927 flood was devastating Mississippi. (In May, Johnson recorded a better known song about the flood, Backwater Blues, which had been recorded by Bessie Smith in February and released in March, before the disaster, and which was, not surprisingly, selling well.) As April gave way to May, he accompanied the 13 year old, but very assured, Helen Humes on the first of her many recordings, and backed the amateur-sounding Joe Brown and Raymond Boyd (whom he may have talent-scouted) on what proved to be their only sessions. He was continuing to cut virtuoso instrumentals, too, though Okeh seem to have been reluctant to issue them; nor did they release the ballad I Love You Mary Lou, perhaps dedicated to his wife Mary, whom he had married in 1925. 12-bar blues formed the remainder of Johnson’s recordings in August 1927. Johnson, may have been happy to work in orthodox structures on 11th and 12th August, as a rest from accompanying the wayward Texas Alexander. “He was a very difficult singer to accompany,” Lonnie told Paul Oliver. “He was liable to jump a bar, or five bars, or anything … When you been out there with him, you done nine days work in one!” Irene Higginbotham‘s Mean Old Bed Bug Blues was being hawked around race record producers at this time by publisher Joe Davis; they seem to have liked its witty lyric, for it was cut by Lonnie, Bessie Smith, Furry Lewis, Kitty Waters and Betty Gray between August and October 1927. Roaming Rambler Blues and Stay Out Of Walnut Street Alley are Johnson originals, though, with unmistakably acerbic lyrics.Chris Smith Copyright 1991 Document Records