Washboard Sam Vol. 6 1941 – 1942
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Complete Recorded Works (20 June 1935 – 27 October 1949)
Vol. 6: 26 June 1941 to 31 July 1942
Featuring the recordings of:
Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Memphis Slim, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar possibly William Mitchell, imitation bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Memphis Slim, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar probably Alfred Elkins, imitation bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Memphis Slim, piano; piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Roosevelt Sykes, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar.
Genres: Blues, Arkansas Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Blues, Guitar, Blues Piano, Urban Blues
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. On this, the sixth volume of Washboard Sam‘s recordings, the material comes from three complete sessions and part of a fourth and for the first time in this series, four songs, not previously released on 78rpm records, appear. Piano and guitar become the featured instruments again and Big Bill Broonzy is still the guitarist, but two new pianists debuts for Sam at these sessions: Memphis Slim and Roosevelt Sykes. Just why the horn is omitted from most of these recordings is anyone’s guess. This album takes us right up to the recording ban of 1942, which was called by the musician’s union; when Sam resumed recording after the war, a horn was always present. The first session represented here took place on June 26,1941 and featured Memphis Slim. Life Is Just A Book opens this album with Big Bill’s guitar front and centre. It was written by Ernest Lawler (Memphis Minnie‘s husband), as was I’m Not The Lad, which is in the style made popular by Peetie Wheatstraw. It was also recorded by Jazz Gillum in 1946. Flying Crow Blues is the first song from this session to have the beat of Diggin’ My Potatoes. It contains references to Texas area locations in its lyrics. Levee Camp Blues, another Lawler composition, follows along with the same rhythm; in it Sam recounts the harsh life of workers on the levee. Memphis Slim moves to the forefront on I’m Feeling Low Down, which is still of similar beat to the two previous songs. Things are slowed down considerably on Brown And Yellow Women Blues where Sam swears off the later in favour of the former. This session ends with She Belongs To The Devil, although Sam never quite explains why he feels that this is so. Washboard Sam‘s next session was his last before America entered World War II, taking place on November 4th,1941. Let Me Play Your Vendor is a clever double-entendre where Sam demands to “let me play your Seeburg” (Vendor being a synonym for jukebox). Gonna Hit The Highway must have been a hit because it was reissued in late 1947, coupled at that time with River Hip Mama from the next session (February 10,1942). Those familiar with the playing of Memphis Slim will readily pick out his piano style on I’ve Been Treated Wrong. Evil Blues brings us back again to the Diggin’ My Potatoes rhythm with a fluid guitar solo. The story of a man who won’t work is related next on Get Down Brother. The final song from this session You Stole My Love once again draws from the tradition of Leroy Carr‘s How Long Blues. The following session of February 10,1942 only yielded four songs which were issued on 78s at the time. Two further songs from the session are included here, while yet two others remain unissued (Cry On Baby and Dark Road Blues). Roosevelt Sykes takes over on piano for this date and immediately makes his presence felt on Rockin’ My Blues Away (one of the non-78 recordings) along with the reappearance of an alto saxophone, probably played by Frank Owens. The same personnel appear on the next few songs. Champion Jack Dupree‘s 1940 recording is the inspiration for Good Old Cabbage Greens, while River Hip Mama became a hit for Smokey Hogg in 1952. Do That Shake Dance is the other non-78 from the session. Shake Dancers were a popular type of exotic dancers in Chicago in the 1940s and 1950s. Big Bill’s guitar is prominent on How Can You Love Me, while the alto exits. This session concludes with Stop And Fix It, a song co-written by Sam and Charles Segar. The final two songs on this album are from Sam’s last “Pre-War” session. Taking place on July 31,1942 to beat the recording ban, both were not released on 78s. Memphis Slim returns on piano throughout this session, the remainder of which begins Vol. 7. Sam is a kept man, as he explains on Don’t Have To Sing The Blues; he talks of building a scaffold and suicide on Red River Dam Blues. It would be more than four and a half years before Washboard Sam would enter a recording studio again, quite a change following an eight year period of two or more sessions per year previously!Victor Pearlin Copyright 1993: Document Records