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Sunday 7 October 2018

Champion Jack Dupree Sings The Blues

Side One:
01. Me And My Mule
02. The Blues Got Me Rockin'
03. That's My Pa
04. Tongue Tied Blues
05. Sharp Harp
06. Blues For Everybody
07. Camille
08. Walkin' Upside Your Head

Side Two:
01. Harelip Blues
02. Big Leg Emma's
03. Two Below Zero
04. Silent Partner
05. Mail Order Woman
06. Stumbling Block
07. Failing Health Blues
08. She Cooks Me Cabbage

Thanks to contributor Marv for sending in this reconstructed 1961 King compilation of Champion Jack Dupree sides. The tracks were recorded for King during 1953 - 1955. By the time this LP was issued Jack had quit the USA for residence in Europe where he enjoyed a long recording and concert career up until his death in 1992.

Jack was born in New Orleans in 1910, raised in an orphanage, and taught blues piano by Drive 'Em Down, thus connecting him to the early days of New Orleans blues. He was also a boxer hence the "Champion" nickname. At the beginning of the 1940s he was working his way north as a professional musician. He recorded a series of sides for Okeh in Chicago in 1940-41, in a trio setting accompanied by guitar and bass. War service in the US Navy interrupted his music career but on his return he moved to New York City where he recorded for a variety of labels between 1945 and 1958.

As his label hopping was pretty constant and probably without any regard to niceties such as contracts, he recorded under a variety of pseudonyms as well as his own moniker. He was "Willie Jordan And His Swinging Five" for Alert in 1948, "Blind Boy Johnson & His Rhythms" on Lenox reissues of some 1948 sides he recorded for Continental, "Meat Head Johnson And His Blues Hounds" on Apex and Gotham in 1950, "Brother Blues And The Back Room Boys" on Abbey also in 1950, "Duke Bayou And His Mystic Six" on Apollo at the end of 1950, and "Big Tom Collins" for King in 1951.

He did in fact also record as Champion Jack Dupree for Joe Davis in 1945, Solo in 1946, on some of the Apollo sessions in 1949 and 1951, and also for Red Robin in 1952. His music was raucous, unbridled blues frequently accompanied by Brownie McGhee on guitar, a variety of bassists, occasionally a drummer, and sometimes even a tenor sax man such as Jesse Powell, Al King or Big Chief Ellis.

This Krazy Kat CD from 1992 has a 22 track selection of Jack's wild and wooly post was output from 1945-1953:

It contains some outstanding rough house rockers such as "Shim Sham Shimmy" and "Shake Baby Shake."

Jack's first session for King was in April 1953. One of the tracks he recorded was "Tongue-Tied Blues" which derives its "humour" from a portrayal of a speech defect. There were follow ups along the same lines - "Harelip Blues," "That's My Pa," "Walkin' Upside Your Head," and "Mail Order Woman" all featured vocals making fun of  people with speech defects which in the present day can make for some uncomfortable listening. A shame because some of these tracks have terrific playing by great backing musicians such as guitarist Mickey Baker.

Setting the tasteless tracks aside, there's still good blues here. Watch out for harmonica players Papa Lightfoot and George Smith on "Camille" and "Sharp Harp" respectively. Full recording and release details are below:

Recording details

01. Me And My Mule - Cincinnati, November 8th, 1955
02. The Blues Got Me Rockin' - New York, April 7th, 1953
03. That's My Pa - New York, June 27th, 1955
04. Tongue Tied Blues - New York, April 7th, 1953
05. Sharp Harp - Cincinnati, November 8th, 1955
06. Blues For Everybody - New York, February 15th, 1955
07. Camille - Cincinnati, November 30th, 1953
08. Walkin' Upside Your Head - Cincinnati, November 30th, 1953
09. Harelip Blues - New York, February 15th, 1955
10. Big Leg Emma's - New York, September 15th, 1955
11. Two Below Zero - New York, February 15th, 1955
12. Silent Partner - New York, September 15th, 1955
13. Mail Order Woman - New York, June 29th, 1955
14. Stumbling Block - New York, June 29th, 1955
15. Failing Health Blues - New York, June 29th, 1955
16. She Cooks Me Cabbage - New York, June 27th, 1955

The Blues Got Me Rockin'; Tongue-Tied Blues - recorded in New York, April 7th, 1953. Personnel:Champion Jack Dupree (vocal, piano) with Sidney Grant (tenor sax); Mickey Baker (guitar); Cedric Wallace (bass); John Taylor (drums).

The Blues Got Me Rockin' / Tongue-Tied Blues released on King 4633 in June 1953.

Walkin' Upside Your Head; Camille - recorded in Cincinnati, November 30th, 1953. Personnel: Champion Jack Dupree (vocal, piano) with: Papa Lightfoot (harmonica); Milton Batiste (trumpet); Nat Perrilliat (tenor sax); Edwin Moire (guitar); Charles Connor (drums).

Walkin' Upside Your Head released on King 4695 b/w Hard Feeling, February 1954.
Camille released on King 4706 b/w Rub A Little Boogie, March / April 1954.

Blues For Everybody; Harelip Blues; Two Below Zero - recorded in New York, February 15th, 1955. Personnel: Champion Jack Dupree (vocal, piano) with Sidney Grant (tenor sax); Jerome Darr (guitar); Cedric Wallace (bass); Cornelius Thomas (drums).

Two Below Zero / Blues For Everybody released on King 4779 in March 1955.
Harelip Blues released on King 4797 b/w Let The Doorbell Ring in May 1955.

That's My Pa; She Cooks Me Cabbage - recorded in New York, June 27th, 1955. Personnel: Champion Jack Dupree (vocal, piano) with Willis Jackson (tenor sax); Mickey Baker (guitar); Ivan Rolle (bass); Calvin Shields (drums).

Failing Health Blues; Stumbling Block; Mail Order Woman - recorded in New York, June 29th, 1955. Personnel as June 27th session.

Silent Partner; Big Leg Emma's - recorded in New York, September 15th, 1955. Personnel: Champion Jack Dupree (vocal, piano) with Mickey Baker (guitar); Lloyd Trotman (bass); Cliff Leeman (drums).

Me And My Mule; Sharp Harp - recorded in Cincinnati, November 8th, 1955. Personnel: Champion Jack Dupree (vocal, piano) with George Smith (harmonica); Barney Richmond (bass); Alfred Dreares (drums).

That's My Pa / Stumbling Block released on King 4827 in September 1955.
Silent Partner / She Cooks Me Cabbage released on King 4859 in December 1955.
Failing Health Blues / Me And My Mule released on King 4876 in February 1956.
Big Leg Emma's / Mail Order Woman released on King 4938 in July 1956.
Two Below Zero / Sharp Harp released on Federal 12408 in February 1961.

Above: Charly CD "Blues For Everybody" (1990 and 1997) has 20 of Jack's King sides, including the only one which brushed the charts - "Walkin' The Blues" which also has Mr. Bear aboard.


Anton said...

Nice Post . Thanks A Lot !

musicyoucan said...

Excellent and very well documented post, as usual.
Thanks a lot

Bob Mac said...

Thanks BW, I have a lot by Jack but not this particular album.

Mickey Bitsko said...

Wonderful stuff, thanks! And what can I say 'bout "Walkin' Upside Your Head" aside from "That's So Badass"!

Apesville said...

On Silent Partner is there a extra Guitar overdub on the LP version Thats not on the 45 version?

boogiewoody said...

Yes, Apes Ville, you're right. I've just found the single version on YouTube (via and there is no guitar on it:

The version on the Charly CD also has no guitar.

I wonder when the dubbing was done. The other track on the LP from the same session, Big Leg Emma's, has no guitar on the LP or single.

Thanks for pointing this out.


Apesville said...

I wonder if any of the others are now alt or overdubbed takes & not the original 45rpm King issues?

Anonymous said...

Love this.. thanks a lot! saw jack in the late 60s...

Stuffy from Sweden

boogiewoody said...

I've compared a few more tracks and haven't come across any more overdubbing.

Stuffy - wish I'd seen Champion Jack back in the day. Unfortunately I didn't ...

Anonymous said...

Thank You Boogiewoody for posting and You Marv for serving
a jolly package of champy music. Items of Dupree are always
of interest to me. So glad these tunes have been gathered
and also, (as usually), placed together with solid info,
that makes things definitely enjoyable even more.
Best wishes to both of You, BW & Marv !
- Jay from the North.

Anonymous said...

Wow.. a lot of really good blues, thanks a lot!!

Stuffy from Sweden