Washboard Sam – Complete Recorded Works 1935 – 1949 Vol 3 (1938)
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Complete Recorded Works (20 June 1935 – 27 October 1949)
Vol. 3: 14 March 1938 to 16 December 1938
Featuring the recordings of:
Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Arnett Nelson, clarinet on 3; Black Bob, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; George Barnes, electric guitar (except on 2); unknown, imitation bass on 4. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Herb Morland, trumpet; possibly Bill Owsley, tenor sax on 7, 8; Black Bob, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar (except on 11); unknown, stand-up bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Herb Morand, trumpet on 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20; Joshua Altheimer, piano on 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24; poss. Altheimer or probably Black Bob, piano on 15, 19; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; probably Bill Settles or possibly Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, City Blues, Urban Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Arkansas Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Piano,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. It begins with the remainder of the songs from the Leland Hotel, Aurora, Ill., 14 March 1938 session for Bluebird and continues with two further sessions, all recorded in 1938. Several firsts in Sam’s career occurred during these recordings. An electric guitar (played by George Barnes) is heard for the first (and last) time, appearing on three of the first four Washboard Sam recordings presented here. Barnes solos during the break of It’s Too Late Now, is quite possibly the earliest featured electric guitar recorded in blues history. He then sits out during the recording of Barbecue, a song built around the well-used equating of eating to the sex-act: “tell me good mama, who d you give my barbecue to?”. Barnes returns during Down At The Old Village Store, where Arnett Nelson is also added on clarinet to the core band of Black Bob on piano, Big Bill Broonzy on guitar and Sam on washboard. At the next session of June 16, 1938, Herb Morand is introduced on trumpet on four songs, soloing on several, including Bucket’s Got A Hole In It. This song was revived in the 1950s by several artists, most notably by Hank Williams and also Ricky Nelson. In Save It For Me, Sam tells his woman she can give away his food and his money, but not his lovin’! Saxophone is first employed by Sam on Serve It Right and Cruel Treatment, on which Bill Owsley plays tenor sax. There are no horns on any of the next four songs, but Jumpin’ Rooster features a particularly fine guitar solo by Big Bill Broonzy, who then sits out on Sophisticated Mama; the only time in this series that Bill is not present with the exception of the 1949 recordings in Vol. 7. Morand returns for the final two songs from this session, I’m Gonna Pay and When My Love Changes. Trumpet continues to be featured on the first six songs recorded at the December 16, 1938 session, the final one for Washboard Sam at Aurora, Ill. All his future sessions would take place in Chicago again. Sam also had a new piano player at this session: Joshua Altheimer. The first song recorded on this date You Waited Too Long is not a blues but a rather decidedly pop song in its structure. It was coupled with a frightening tale of murder-suicide Gonna Kill My Baby. The lyrics are especially strong, even for a blues record, as Sam threatens to “cock my pistol in my baby’s face” and “drink strychnine just to pacify my thirst”. Walkin’ In My Sleep could just have easily been called “With No Clothes On”, but that would never have happened in 1938! Washboard Swing is so similar to Walking’ In My Sleep musically that it sounds like a continuation of the previous song. Hand Reader Blues is a bluesy story of fortune telling with a nice guitar introduction by Big Bill Broonzy, and is the final appearance at Sam’s session of Herb Morand on trumpet. The last four songs from this session (and this album) have no horns at all, and therefore have a more “down-home” sound. Washboard Sam would often return to this simple accompaniment of piano, guitar, string bass and washboard despite the success of his more modern-sounding band.Victor Pearlin Copyright 1993 & 2007 Document Records