Washboard Sam Vol 5 1940 – 1941
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Complete Recorded Works (20 June 1935 – 27 October 1949)
Vol. 5: 29 July 1940 to 31 January 1941
Featuring the recordings of:
Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied probably by Buster Bennett, alto sax on 1, 2, 3, 4; probably Joshua Altheimer, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; unknown, imitation bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by probably by Buster Bennett, alto sax on 7, 8, 9, 10; probably Blind John Davis, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; unknown, imitation bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Horace Malcolm, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; probably Leroy Bachelor, imitation bass; Josephine Kyles, speech on 13. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied probably by Simeon Henry, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; possibly William Mitchell, imitation bass.
Genres: Blues, City Blues, Urban Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Arkansas Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Piano,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Washboard Sam‘s sound becomes more varied at the four sessions covered by this album. At the first session presented here, which took place on July 29, 1940, the piano was played by the returning Joshua Altheimer. The predictable reprise Digging My Potatoes No. 2 is just as bright and bouncy as the original, but probably didn’t sell well (follow-ups to hits seldom do). Morning Dove Blues features a nice guitar introduction by Big Bill Broonzy and is musically similar to Leroy Carr‘s classic How Long Blues. The interplay between piano and guitar on Dissatisfied Blues is also reminiscent of that of the popular team of Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell. The lyrics tell the story of Sam’s search for the ideal woman. Washboard Sam‘s next session took place on August 5, 1940 and featured Blind John Davis on piano. John was a frequent accompanist of Lonnie Johnson and had several sessions of his own for MGM beginning in 1949. I’m Going To St. Louis (“to worry you off my mind”) is an upbeat song firmly in the Diggin’ My Potatoes mould. It features a piano solo by Davis and later an alto solo by Buster Bennett. Greyhound Bus is yet another blues about that famous mode of transportation. Just Got To Hold You is another song of bravado by Sam: “if she flag my train, I’m sure gonna take her home”; “buddy what are you gonna do?” taunts Sam. The last song recorded at this session Good Luck Blues is the story of Pearlie Lee, a woman who’s luck at winning the numbers provides Sam with a new suit of clothes. The next session of January 16, 1941 brought back Horace Malcolm as the pianist. The first song recorded then featured a second vocal by Josephine Kyles. Ain’t You Comin’ Out Tonight is about Sam’s impatience with her. By its title, Every Tub Stands On Its Own Bottom sounds like something Willie Dixon would have written; it’s message is to rely on yourself. She’s Makin’ A Fool Out Of Me is another of Sam’s laments, this time about how Mary Ann misuses him. The final song from the session She’s A Bad Luck Woman is more of the same: Sam complains about how his woman cheats on him and takes his money. The fourth session on this album took place just two weeks later, in January, 1941. The piano this time is probably Simeon Henry. She’s All In My Life features a good solo by Big Bill Broonzy. “He crawls like a skunk, down on his hands and knees” sings Sam on He’s A Creepin’ Man. Down At The Bad Man’s Hall is a truly bizarre song about strange goings on at a dance. The final song of the session, Traveling Man is the saga of a man on the lam from the police who meets his end when he’s shot in the head. This final session overall should get an award for some of the strangest lyrics of all time! And I haven’t even touched on Little Leg Woman or I Can Beat You Playing That Hand. You simply have to listen to the songs from this session on your own to fully appreciate how different they are. As record buying tastes moved towards R & B style of the Post War era, Washboard Sam inexplicably returned to his earlier country blues sound. In the next volume he uses alto saxophone on just two of the twenty four songs recorded.Victor Pearlin Copyright 1993: Document Records