DOCD-5694 Granville “Stick” McGhee Volume 1(1947-1951)
“Stick” McGhee, vocal, guitar.
With contributions by;
Wilbert “Big Chief” Ellis, piano.
Brownie McGhee, vocal, guitar.
Bob Harris, vocal, stand-up bass.
Joe Morris, trumpet.
Sonny Terry, harmonica.
Harry Van Walls, piano.
Gene Brooks, drums.
Genres; blues, rhythm & blues.
Extensive, informative notes by Gillian Atkinson.
Extract abridged from this CDs booklet notes.
In the military, Granville entertained his buddies as he played his guitar. One of the songs that McGhee was best known for was “Drinkin’ Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee“.
In their first Atlantic session “Stick and his Buddies”, comprising of brother Brownie ,Wilbert “Big Chief” Ellis ,Gene Ramsey and an unknown drummer (possibly Gene Moore) cut six tracks (Tall Pretty Woman Blues was released) on Valentine’s day 1949. The band was in quite good form, having practised Drinking Wine over and Over again and Granville’s writing style and performances were versatile. He could move effortlessly from proto rock and roll to somewhat unpolished crooning jazz styling and of course he was a fine blues performer. Musically, the tracks were all different, including a reworking of the catchy I’ll Drink Muddy Water. Granville would revisit his earlier compositions until 1952. Of course, the runaway success of the session was “Drinking Wine” and it wasn’t long until Atlantic called him back to the studio again, hoping to replicate their success.
In October 1949 the original line up was back in the studio for Atlantic again and at the behest of Ertegun members of Joe Morris’s Orchestra joined them. The first track was a joint Ahmet Ertegun Granville McGhee composition. The session produced two rocking barrelhouse tracks in Drank Up All the Wine Last Night and Venus Blues. “Drink of Wine” was still riding high in the charts and Atlantic set about an advertising campaign to promote their star further buoyed by Wynonie Harris’s cover of “Drinking Wine”. The song was covered time and again by a plethora of artists. February 11th 1950 saw “Drank Up All The Wine Last Night” get a four star “excellent “rating in February’s Record Rating. In May 1950 Atlantic released My Baby Is Coming Back and “Venus Blues”. Granville Stick McGhee was star. Atlantic quickly called him back and he cut Sugar Foot Rag with members of the Joe Morris Orchestra. Atlantic didn’t issue it and when Granville went back again in May 1950 he took Sonny Terry and Harry Van Walls with him.
It’s true that Granville’s other recordings did not sell as well as “Drink of Wine” but they sold well enough. He was riding high and Atlantic was very pleased indeed. Whilst he was on the road they released 912 Let’s Do It and boasted in their trade adverts that it was “Greater than Spo-Dee-Odee”. Early in November Granville, and his Buddies cut another couple of tracks for Atlantic, one was the upbeat One Monkey Won’t Stop The Show and a pedestrian plodding instrumental cover version of Tennessee Waltz. Tennessee Waltz Blues charted at number 8 in April 1951
In January 1951 Atlantic had advertised House Warming Boogie as one of their latest smash hits. This wasn’t strictly true but with the success of Tennessee Waltz Blues they were satisfied. London released the “Novelty” song written by Art Kane, Oh What a Face (by Special Arrangement with Atlantic Records) .
It seems that the relationship with Atlantic had cooled but none the less they invited Granville and the boys back for another recording session in December 1951 and here they cut one of the best tracks on this CD. Wee Wee Hours is a low down soulful blues track but despite its intensity it failed to have impact and Atlantic failed to promote it in the trade press.