Roosevelt Sykes – Complete Recorded Works 1929 -1957 Vol 3 (1931-1933)
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The Complete Recorded Works 14 June 1929 15 December 1944
Vol 3: 19th September 1931 to 11th December 1933
Featuring the recordings of:
Emerson Houston, vocal; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes (as by Willie Kelly), piano. James Stump Johnson, accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes, piano. Matthew McCure (as by Southern Blues Singer), vocal; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes, piano. Mosby and Sykes: possibly Artie Mosby, violin; Roosevelt Sykes, piano. Roosevelt Sykes, vocal / piano. Eithel Smith, vocal; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes, piano. Isabel Sykes, vocal; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes (as by Willie Kelly), piano. Roosevelt Sykes (as by Willie Kelly), vocal / piano. Clarence Harris, vocal; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes (as by Willie Kelly), piano. Frank Pluitt, vocal; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes (as by Willie Kelly), piano. Roosevelt Sykes, vocal / piano. Carl Rafferty, vocal; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes, piano. Napolean Fletcher, vocal; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes, piano; Edith Johnson, speech.
Genres; Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Blues Piano, Arkansas Blues, Male Vocal Blues, Female Vocal Blues. Pre-war Blues, Female Blues, Blues Violin, Jazz Violin, Bluebird, Victor, Varsity, Champion,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Roosevelt Sykes contract with Okeh must have expired by 22 September 1932, for his own recordings were issued under his real name; they began with a pair of unusual duets with the violinist Curtis (or perhaps Artie) Mosby, quite a sophisticated musician, with apparent influences from white fiddle styles. The two of them blend well on Mosby Stomp until the rather chaotic ending. Mr. Sykes Blues and Highway 61 Blues were two of Sykes finest recordings in the whole of his long career; the former is a classic illustration of his remarkable right hand technique, while Highway 61, though equally a classic, is quite unlike his usual style, sounding like a bottleneck guitar piece transferred to piano, with a very free rhythm, a drone bass, and a right hand that mimics the vocal line rather than accompanying it. Of Eithel Smith and Matthew McClure, nothing seems to be known apart from their recordings. By this time, race recording was slowing down dramatically as the Depression eroded black purchasing power, but even in 1933 there was still a little recording activity, and where there was studio time, there was Roosevelt Sykes. In August, he was back with Victor (as Willie Kelly for the last time), cutting two fine sides, and accompanying Isabel Sykes (probably a sister of his) on two strong songs that appear, from their characteristic melodies, to have been composed by Roosevelt himself. Isabel was a shrill singer, with a voice typical of the style adopted by female singers from St. Louis; its a pity she did not get to record again. Victors response to the Depression had included the launch in January 1933 of two cheap labels with defiantly optimistic names: Sunrise, which didnt last long, and Bluebird, which was to be much more enduring. By the end of that year, Roosevelt Sykes was both recording for the new labels and repeating the talent scouting job hed earlier done for Champion. His own recordings that day show him to have been in good form; his singing on Big Legs Ida Blues was especially impressive. Of Frank Pluitts two songs, one has not been recovered: Found A Note On My Door was backed with Meningitis Blues for its issue on Victor, but no copy seems to survive. It’s to be regretted for Meningitis Blues sounds likely to have been more interesting than Napoleon Fletchers laconic doubles entendres on the Bluebird / Sunrise coupling. Clarence Harris and Carl Rafferty were more worthwhile artists than Fletcher, Harris an amateur-sounding singer who may well have genuinely been advertising his own tavern on Try My Whiskey Blues, and Rafferty a purveyor of two excellent lyrics, one ingeniously salacious, the other an early variant of Dust My Broom.Chris Smith Copyright 1992 & 2008 Document Records