Lonnie Johnson – Complete Recorded Works 1925 – 1932 Vol. 4 (1928-1929)
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Complete Recorded Works 4 November 1925 2 August 1932
Vol. 4: 9th March 1928 to 8th May 1929
Featuring the recordings of:
Lonnie Johnson, vocal / guitar. Victoria Spivey & Lonnie Johnson, vocal duet; accompanied by probably Victoria Spivey, piano; Lonnie Johnson, guitar. Victoria Spivey & Lonnie Johnson, vocal duet; accompanied by Clarence Williams, piano; Lonnie Johnson, guitar. Lonnie Johnson And Blind Willie Dunn: Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Lang, guitar duet. Lonnie Johnson & Spencer Williams, vocal duet; accompanied by J. C. Johnson, piano; Lonnie Johnson, guitar. Lonnie Johnson & Jimmy Foster, vocal duet; accompanied by Lonnie Johnson, guitar; unknown, piano. Lonnie Johnson & Spencer Williams, vocal duet; accompanied by J. C. Johnson, piano. Blind Willie Dunn’s Gin Bottle Four: King Oliver, cornet; J. C. Johnson, piano; Eddie Lang, Lonnie Johnson, guitar; Hoagy Carmichael, percussion / vocal. Lonnie Johnson And Blind Willie Dunn: Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Lang, guitar duet.
Genres: Blues, Blues Guitar, Jazz Guitar, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, 12-string Guitar, Female Blues,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. In March 1928, Lonnie Johnson was in San Antonio, travelling with Okeh’s mobile unit, and supplying accompaniment as needed. Part way through a stint backing Texas Alexander, he took time out to make the lovely ballad I’m So Tired Of Living All Alone, and a few days later he cut a four title session which included the first version of his famous attack on pimps, Crowing Rooster Blues; as so often with Lonnie, this song also includes some jaundiced opinions on women note his advice on the dangers of buying them silk underwear in quantity. Broken Levee Blues is an unusual song of protest about the means by which the levees along the Mississippi were maintained, a system, which a few years later, was called “Mississippi Slavery in 1933” by Roy Wilkins of the NAACP.
In November, Lonnie Johnson made a classic version of Careless Love, and accompanied Texas Alexander for the last time, on this occasion in duet with one Salvatore Massaro. Massaro was better known as Eddie Lang, and in 1928 was aged 26. Lang had the deepest understanding of harmony in jazz, and Johnson the finest technique in blues; to consider the obvious esteem in which each man held the other; and to listen. Alongside the magnificent abstract music of Two Tone Stomp and Blue Guitars (a nod to Picasso?), Lonnie Johnson had formed another partnership, with Spencer Williams, which, if it didn’t scale the same artistic heights, was to be commercially quite successful. The hottest record in the country in early 1929 was Tampa Red‘s “It’s Tight Like That”, and in It Feel So Good, Okeh had their entry to the race for soundalikes. Sam Charters is about right: “it wasn’t any better than the original, but then it wasn’t any worse either.” One could add that, like Tampa Red, Johnson was a guitarist of exquisite clarity and logic, whatever the material; listen to his work on I Want A Little Some O’ That What You Got, for instance.
A fortnight before Death Is On Your Track was cut, Lonnie Johnson was supplying a classic solo on Louis Armstrong‘s “Mahogany Hall Blues Stomp”; the previous December, he’d supervised Mississippi John Hurt’s New York session, and shown Hurt around the town. His was a busy and successful career; if working for Okeh meant singing “Said the chicken when she ate the worm, “It makes me wiggle when you start to squirm”,” he probably felt it was worth it.Chris Smith Copyright 1991 Document Records