Sinners And Saints 1926-1931
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Sinners & Saints
Complete Recorded Works 1926 1931
Featuring The Recordings Of:
T.C.I. Section Crew: Male Vocal Group; with train-whistle effects; unaccompanied. Freeman Stowers, harmonica solo/speech. Freeman Stowers, animal imitations (4, 5); or: harmonica solo (5). Beans Hambone-El Morrow: James Albert or El Morrow, vocal; accompanied by own guitar duet. Big Boy George Owens, vocal / guitar. Will Bennett, vocal / guitar. Lonnie Coleman, vocal; accompanied by probably own banjo; unknown, guitar. Nugrape Twins, vocal duets; accompanied by unknown, piano. Nugrape Twins, vocal duets; accompanied by. L.B. Byron, piano. Nugrape Twins, vocal duets; accompanied by unknown, piano. Blind Roger Hays, vocal / harmonica / guitar. Pink Anderson and Simon Dooley, vocal; accompanied by own guitar duet; prob. Dooley, kazoo on 25, 26.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Texas Blues, Tennessee Blues, New Orleans Blues, Louisiana Blues, Carolina Blues, Piedmont Blues Guitar, Blues Harmonica, Blues Piano, Songster, Gospel, Ragtime Guitar, Harmonica Solo,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. The lack of early recordings means that we have no direct contemporary information on the sounds of black music in the formative years from the 1890s to the l920s. So we have to make deductions from what evidence we can obtain. Take work song, for instance. No field recordings were made of the songs of the black section gangs as they physically “lined track” – straightened railroad lines buckled by heat – until Henry Truvillion was recorded in 1939. A dozen years before, a single coupling was made by the T.C.I. Section Crew; the only work song of its type to be recorded on a commercial 78rpm disc. Work songs were unaccompanied. How did instrumental accompaniments enter the blues, which is believed to have been originally a solo form of work song? A harmonica is the easiest instrument to carry, and Freeman Stowers, apparently a Texas field hand from his vocal imitations of animals on the farm, plays – and shrieks – the sounds of passing trains, a ferocious hunt for a Texas wildcat, and a medley of old blues and country dance themes. By later standards his playing may be primitive but it illustrates the origins of blues “vocalised tone”. Then there is the matter of the songs themselves – the precursors of blues and the song traditions that blues slowly replaced. Beans, a comic song half-chanted by James Albert, called “Beans Hambone”, was a song composed by Elmer Bowman and Chris Smith in 1912; all four came from the Carolinas. So did Pink Anderson, the medicine show entertainer, from South Carolina, who made a much more accomplished version of Tippin’ Out as Gonna Tip Out Tonight. In Beans Hambone and El Morrow we have a rare glimpse of a couple of country musicians trying to learn their craft; in Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley we hear a couple of professional musicians from the travelling “medicine shows”. As I’ve Got Mine, “The Coon Crap Game” was one of Pink Anderson‘s favourite songs when he was recorded in the l950s; “Big Boy” George Owens recorded it many years before, but it was an old song by then, having been written by a white minstrel show entertainer, John Queen, in 1901. George Owens also cut a blues, using a number of standard verses that had been collected soon after Queen wrote his “Coon” song. Kentucky Blues may be a clue to his home state. Will Bennett might have come from Tennessee, where he recorded the song of a rambler who did not want to be burdened with property: “any-old-where I hang my hat is home sweet home to me”. He was another old-time “songster”, the kind of singer who could draw on a wide repertoire to entertain on street corners. His song about Railroad Bill extolled the exploits of a real-life black train robber and Alabama hero, Morris Slater, who was gunned down in 1897. Bennett identifies with the bandit in the ballad. Stack O Lee, Frankie and Albert and Railroad Bill were of this type, which may well have influenced the form of the blues. It was the songsters who adopted the guitar, replacing the 19th Century combination of banjo and fiddle. By the time they were recorded there were few banjoists left, but Lonnie Coleman was one. His rasping voice and ringing banjo give us the flavour of country music at the time when blues was an emergent music. Simply known as Matthew and Mark, the Nugrape Twins” took their name from a proprietary non-alcoholic drink. Three of their harmonised songs bridged the old spiritual tradition and the emerging gospel songs of the Sanctified churches. Their accents were rural but their pianist was used to concert-styled accompaniments. There’s A City Built of Mansions was based on a traditional spiritual, but I Got Your Ice Cold Nugrape made a gospel message out of a contemporary secular theme. The twins may be contrasted with Blind Roger Hays from New Orleans who accompanied his rough and simple songs on harmonica and a briskly strummed guitar. On I Must Be Blind, I Cannot See he sang of his affliction, made all the more touching by the cheerful dance time. Blind Simmie Dooley partnered Pink Anderson, exchanging verses on Every Day in the Week Blues based on a Harry von Tilzer song from 1900, and taking the nasal lead on C. C. And O. Blues, a four-line, sixteen bar blues on the railroad theme. It wasn’t the blues in its mature form, but the singing and playing of these songsters showed that it was on its way.Paul Oliver Copyright 1992 Document Records