Washboard Sam Vol. 2 (1937-1938) – Full Album
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Complete Recorded Works (20 June 1935 – 27 October 1949)
Vol. 2: 4 May 1937 to 14 March 1938
Featuring the recordings of:
Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Arnett Nelson, clarinet on 1, 2, 3; unknown, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; unknown, stand-up bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Arnett Nelson, clarinet on 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14; Black Bob, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; unknown, stand-up bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Arnett Nelson, clarinet (except on 23); Black Bob, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar.
Genres; Blues, Country Blues, Arkansas Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Piano, Urban Blues
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. The material presented on this second volume of Washboard Sam‘s recordings was cut at just three different sessions in a ten month (May 1937 to March 1938) period. It has the unique distinction among Sam’s body of work of having the same personnel throughout. The band is composed of Black Bob on piano (although it may not be him on the first session of May 4, 1937), Big Bill Broonzy on guitar, Sam on washboard, an unknown on string bass and Arnett Nelson on clarinet, sprinkled among fourteen of the twenty three songs on this album. Sam was among the first to record for Bluebird in the new studio in Aurora, Ill., a western suburb of Chicago. His second release from the session of May 4, 1937 produced one of his best remembered songs Back Door. It was reissued in early 1947 backed then with Diggin’ My Potatoes (see Vol. 4). Back Door was in fact the inspiration for Little Walter‘s 1953 R & B hit Tell Me Mama. In an ironic twist of fate, Sam’s 1953 version of Diggin’ My Potatoes was reissued in 1964 by Checker with the artist listed as Little Walter! Sam’s popularity as measured by record sales must have been reaching its stride as evidenced by the increasing number of songs recorded at each session in 1937 and 1938. Record sales in general had rebounded somewhat from the lean years of the early depression (1931-1933), and confidence for future sales must have been returning to the record industry to allow them to hold larger sessions. The first song on this album Easy Ridin’ Mama is a classic blues theme but features an unconventional musical bridge which owes more to Tin Pan Alley than the blues. On The Big Boat, Sam’s ode to the Mississippi River, Nelson gets to solo for the first time on clarinet. He also does so on the next song recorded, the aforementioned Back Door. Nelson sat out the remainder of this session beginning with We Gonna Move, a monstrous hit for Louis Jordan in 1942 as I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town. Low Down Woman is especially vivid lyrically with its references to his fears that his woman “drink moonshine and smoke reefers too “, leading to the inevitable threat to “buy a pistol, a shotgun and some shells”. Lowland Blues has several lyrical references to the state of Mississippi and is musically similar to the structure of Robert Johnson‘s Love In Vain. The final song recorded at the May 4, 1937 session I’m On My Way Blues recounts a – familiar tale of the traveling bluesman: a night in jail courtesy of the police. The release of Want To Woogie Some More was originally coupled with a song recorded by Robert Lee McCoy, a practice which was somewhat common at Bluebird at that time. Ladies’ Man from the session of November 11, 1937 is a continuation of the Back Door theme of satisfying married women; in it Sam brags that “makin’ love to women is the only work I do”. Closing out Vol. 2 is Yellow, Black And Brown, where Sam professes no special preference in his women.Victor Pearlin Copyright 1993 & 2008 Document Records