Mississippi Blues Vol 2: Various Artists – Complete Recorded Works (1926-1935)
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Complete recorded Works Vol. 2: 1926 1935
Featuring the recordings of:
Arthur Petties (or Pettis) (probably Bill Williams), vocal / guitar. Arthur Pettis, vocal / guitar. Arthur Pettis, vocal / guitar; prob. Jed Davenport, harmonica. Freddie Spruell (as Papa Freddie), vocal / guitar; unknown, speech. Freddie Spruell (as Papa Freddie), vocal / guitar. “Mr. Freddie” Spruell, vocal / guitar. Freddie Spruell (as Mr. Freddie), vocal / guitar; Carl Martin, vocal / guitar on 15. Poor Boy Lofton (Willie Lofton), vocal / guitar; unknown, 2nd guitar and vocal added on 17. Poor Boy Lofton, vocal / guitar. Willie Lofton Trio: Willie “Poor Boy” Lofton, vocal / guitar; Black Bob, piano on 23, unknown, stand-up bass on 23; unknown, kazoo on 23.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Mississippi Blues, Country Blues Guitar, 12-string Guitar, Delta Blues, Blues Harmonica, Blues Piano, National Guitar
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Arthur Petties remains an enigma – even the correct spelling of his last name is uncertain (Pettis?). Thanks to a Paul Oliver interview with Big Bill Broonzy, we have some sketchy information. Oliver played Petties’ Out On Santa Fe for Big Bill, “who instantly identified the singer, he was from Big Bill’s home district in Bolivar County… but had for many years been living in Chicago, and was there still.” Petties’ bass runs and casual vocals are quite reminiscent of Big Bill and, as Petties’ recording dates parallel Big Bill Broonzy‘s earliest sessions, one may wonder whether Petties’ playing influenced Big Bill, instead of the other way around. Freddie Spruell likely learned to play the blues in Chicago, yet he was one of the first Delta-styled artists to record, indeed one of the first self-accompanied guitarists on record. His music shows a strong, direct link to the Delta. Mississippi Bottom Man is quite closely related to the song that Charley Patton recorded as Moon Going Down, Tommy Johnson as Big Fat Mama, and Kid Bailey as Mississippi Bottom Blues. Spruell sings in his version, “In the lowlands of Mississippi, that’s where / was born . . . Way down in the Delta, that’s where / long to be “, solidifying his status as a (transplanted) Mississippi Delta bluesman. His very first, historic recording, made in June 1926, features an unknown guest in the studio, urging Freddie Spruell with “/ want to hear you play them old blues like y’ used to play down home”. Willie “Poor Boy” Lofton, influenced by fellow Jackson bluesmen Tommy Johnson and Ishman Bracey, played in a rather frantic style and relied heavily falsetto singing. Lofton moved to Chicago where he supported himself as a musician and cut eight sides in 1934-35. During his second recording session, Lofton recorded a version of Tommy Johnson‘s Big Road Blues, which he retitled Dark Road Blues. According to David Evans, this was “the only version of the song besides Tommy Johnson‘s that was recorded commercially, for sale to the black record-buying public”. Lofton’s own Dirty Mistreater, Mose Andrews‘ Ten Pound Hammer (see DOCD-5IS7 Mississippi Blues Volume I), and many, many other songs of the period borrow liberally from the music of Johnson’s Big Road Blues, but supply new lyrics. While Willie “Poor Boy” Lofton was more a dyed-in-the-wool Mississippian than was Freddie Spruell, who spent nearly his entire life in Chicago, it is Lofton who shows an urban feel in his pacing and instrumentation, he moves from working solo on his first recordings (he added an unknown second guitarist on It’s Killing Me) to a purely urban set-up on Beer Garden Blues of Lofton on guitar, Black Bob on piano, and unknown string bass and kazoo players (credited as the “Willie Lofton Trio“). Lofton combined the influences of the Delta masters with jazz and urban orchestrations in a way that may be more Chicago than Delta.John H. Vanco Copyright 1993 Document Records.