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Monday, 18 February 2019

Mississippi Blues




















Side 1:
01. All In My Dreams - Boyd Gilmore
02. Just An Army Boy - Boyd Gilmore
03. Superintendent Blues - Houston Boines
04. Monkey Motion - Houston Boines
05. Charlie's Boogie Woogie - Charlie Booker
06. Moonrise Blues - Charlie Booker

Side 2:
01. Take A Little Walk With Me - Boyd Gilmore
02. If That's Your Gal - Boyd Gilmore
03. Rabbit Blues - Charlie Booker
04. No Riding Blues - Charlie Booker
05. Going Home - Houston Boines
06. Relation Blues - Houston Boines






I've had a whole heap of fun reviving my decades-old copy of  "Mississippi Blues" from the late '70s Musidisc reprint of the Kent "Anthology Of The Blues" series which was originally issued around 1969 - 1970.

For a start I just had to re-read Ray Templeton's two part story of this series in "Blues & Rhythm" magazine  (numbers 309 and 310, May- June 2016). Then there was the problem of trying to make sense of the dates and personnel details of the tracks from my usual info sources for this sort of thing - mainly Bruyninckx and in this case the 706 Union Avenue Sessions website. Unfortunately the info didn't quite hang together.

I was getting a bit fed up with the whole thing, I mean it's the music that counts and do we really need to go into the minutiae of exactly who recorded what and where and when nearly 70 years ago? Then my enthusiasm was reawakened when I remembered that I had a copy of the CD in the series "A Proper Introduction To ..." and it was a CD which I didn't really enjoy when I bought it years ago - "Ike Turner / Jackie Brenston - Rocket 88." I've changed my mind, I now think it's a great collection.


This 29 tracker is centred on Ike Turner's role as musician and talent scout in Memphis and beyond in the early 1950s. It includes the Ike Turner's Kings Of Rhythm tracks which were recorded by Sam Phillips and then released on Chess under Jackie Brenston's name, which led to the rupture in the relationship between Phillips and the Bihari brothers, owners of the Modern / RPM labels, who reckoned that they had been stiffed by Sam.The Biharis recruited Ike as a talent scout, arranger and backing musician and were soon bypassing their former source of Memphis blues by recording their own sessions with Ike in charge alongside Joe Bihari and his portable Magnecord recording machine.

Starting in West Memphis in September 1951, they recorded Howlin' Wolf (who was simultaneously recording for Chess at Sam Phillips' studio) but soon took to the road for trips through Arkansas and Mississippi to record local blues musicians in makeshift studios set up in venues such as a music store, night clubs, and a Greyhound bus garage. This process is outlined in the excellent notes to the above CD which also includes a selection of recordings from these forays.

Artists featured on the CD include Drifting Slim, Baby Face Turner, and Sunny Blair from a March 1952 session in North Little Rock, Arkansas and also (and more relevant to the featured LP), Boyd Gilmore, Charlie Booker and Houston Boines who were recorded over two sessions which are the source of the tracks on this Anthology Of The Blues Collection.

These Mississippi sessions took place on the 23rd January 1952 at the Club Casablanca in Greenville and in late March 1952 at the Greyhound bus garage in Clarksdale.

All of the tracks on this LP (with one exception) were released on singles in 1952 on Modern, RPM and Blues & Rhythm. This last was a short lived label which the Biharis founded as an outlet for their blues recordings but only seven singles were ever released on it. Two further Bihari labels, Meteor and Flair carried more of their blues recordings.

It should be remembered that the purpose of these recording trips was to make records which would earn a buck. These weren't academic ethnological field trips. This stuff sold, as was noted in contemporary issues of Billboard. Electric amplification was transforming the formerly old fashioned guitar / harmonica blues and electric blues combos could now match the sax based jump bands both on stage and on the jukeboxes.

Blues Trax Fax

01. All In My Dreams - Boyd Gilmore - Late March, 1952, Clarksdale, Mississippi. Modern 872.
02. Just An Army Boy - Boyd Gilmore - January 23rd, 1952, Greenville, Mississippi. Modern 860.
03. Superintendent Blues - Houston Boines - Late March, 1952, Clarksdale, Mississippi. RPM 364.
04. Monkey Motion - Houston Boines - Late March, 1952, Clarksdale, Mississippi. RPM 364.
05. Charlie's Boogie Woogie - Charlie Booker - Late March, 1952, Clarksdale, Mississippi. Modern 878.
06. Moonrise Blues - Charlie Booker - January 23rd, 1952, Greenville, Mississippi. Modern 878.
07. Take A Little Walk With Me - Boyd Gilmore - Late March, 1952, Clarksdale, Mississippi. Modern 872.
08. If That's Your Gal - Boyd Gilmore - January 23rd, 1952, Greenville, Mississippi. Not released.
09. Rabbit Blues - Charlie Booker - January 23rd, 1952, Greenville, Mississippi. Blues & Rhythm 7003.
10. No Riding Blues - Charlie Booker - January 23rd, 1952, Greenville, Mississippi. Blues & Rhythm 7003.
11. Going Home - Houston Boines - January 23rd, 1952, Greenville, Mississippi. Blues & Rhythm 7001.
12. Relation Blues - Houston Boines - January 23rd, 1952, Greenville, Mississippi. Blues & Rhythm 7001.

Sessions

January 23rd, 1952, Club Casablanca, Greenville, Mississippi:

Boyd Gilmore (vocal, guitar); Ike Turner (piano); James Scott Jr. (guitar); Jesse "Cleanhead" Love (drums): Just An Army Boy; If That's Your Gal.

Charlie Booker (vocal, guitar); Houston Boines (harmonica); Ike Turner (piano); Jesse "Cleanhead" Love (drums): Rabbit Blues; No Ridin' Blues; Moonrise Blues.

Houston Boines (vocal, harmonica); Charlie Booker (guitar); Ike Turner (piano); Jesse "Cleanhead" Love (drums): Going Home; Relation Blues.

Late March, 1952, Greyhound Bus Garage, Clarksdale, Mississippi:

Boyd Gilmore (vocal, guitar); Ike Turner (piano), Jesse "Cleanhead" Love (drums): All In My Dreams; Take a Little Walk With Me.

Note that All In My Dreams has intro and break by Elmore James from his Please Find My Baby spliced in.

Charlie Booker (vocal, guitar); Ike Turner (piano); Jesse "Cleanhead" Love (drums): Charlie's Boogie Woogie.

Houston Boines (vocal, harmonica); Charlie Booker (guitar); Ike Turner (piano); Jesse "Cleanhead" Love (drums): Monkey Motion; Superintendent Blues.

Releases

All sides were released on singles on Modern, RPM, and Blues & Rhythm on unknown dates in 1952, with the exception of  "If That's Your Gal" by Boyd Gilmore which remained unreleased until this collection.

Houston Boines - Going Home / Relation Blues - Blues & Rhythm 7001.
Houston Boines - Monkey Motion / Superintendent Blues - RPM 364.
Boyd Gilmore - Ramblin' On My Mind / Just An Army Boy. Modern 860.
Boyd Gilmore - All In My Dreams / Take a Little Walk With Me - Modern 872.
Charlie Booker - Rabbit Blues / No Ridin' Blues - Blues & Rhythm 7003.
Charlie Booker - Charlie's Boogie Woogie / Moonrise Blues - Modern 878.

Hold it! We ain't quite done yet. Having been fired up by listening to the Proper CD collection, I decided to delve deeper and there was only one way to do that - buy the first two volumes of the Ace series "The Modern Downhome Blues Sessions." It's the only way to get the full, fascinating story of these Mississippi and Arkansas recording trips and what a story it is.

We've already seen how the Memphis scene became a three way battleground between Sam Phillips, the Biharis, and the Chess brothers. Another blues war broke out as Joe Bihari encroached on territory which Lillian McMurry of Trumpet Records regarded as her own. The tales told in the detailed and entertaining notes to these CDs almost defy belief as the formidable McMurry fought off attempts to poach her contracted artists such as Elmore James, Willie Love and Sonny Boy Williamson.

It wasn't only the prospect of getting more background info which motivated me to buy the CDs. Having heard Drifting Slim on the Proper CD, I decided I had to get me some more of that! I wasn't disappointed. Both of these CDs are absolutely recommended:



The Blues roll on here on Be Bop Wino ... but there will be more jumpin' jive along soon!
 

10 comments:

Spreadin' Rhythm! said...

"... I mean it's the music that counts and do we really need to go into the minutiae of exactly who recorded what and where and when nearly 70 years ago?"

I have to agree with you wholeheartedly there, BW. The most important stuff will always be found "in the grooves!" Perhaps this blogger has become quite jaded, but these days I much prefer letting the song tell its' own story.

boogiewoody said...

I'm torn between researching the background to the music or just listening ... can't make up my mind!

BW

Anonymous said...

BW,
You made again a smashing reading. I get that situation of feelings.
But in a way you don't have to feel to be "standing at the crossroads"
as one doesn't have to choose INFO or MUSIC as one and only strategy.
You are able to build your volumes of this remarkable blog with more than one angle.
I would guess that followers and friends of your posts will appreciate
your findings many ways.
The info never hurts, quite vice versa. But on the other hand,
sometimes truth is very hard to pin down, or to get a clear picture of
various colourful stories that have been told about the same thing.
You have succeeded though. Your latest musical pathways have been a pleasure
to follow. And the music, of course, is uplifting.
These chapters of yours don't come easy, I'm sure, but I certainly hope
you are as glad of every new entry as we readers are.
What ever you happen to do, I believe it is not in vain.
Cheer ups to you BW and best wishes !
With gratitude,
- Jay from the North.

Anonymous said...

"The Blues roll on here on Be Bop Wino ... but there will be more jumpin' jive along soon!"
I'm very happy to hang around with blues. Thanks so much for all you do. As someone who loves to get deep in the weeds with information on the who and how of the records, I really appreciate you going the extra mile.
Thanks again,
Kevin

boogiewoody said...

Thanks Kevin and Jay - I appreciate the encouragement. It's good to know that people read the posts!

Anonymous said...

This is a fabulous post, and I lapped up the commentary. By chance I had just finished reading the description of these sessions in Robert Palmer's Deep Blues, so my appetite for both the music and the info was piqued. As for the text vs listening question, I need both: the more I know about the background, the more I hear in the music, and vice versa. Keep on postin'!
- Slim

Anonymous said...

BW,
Another comment: The Modern / Ace Mississippi / Arkansas cuts are also available in an abridged (but much more affordable!) single disc on Ace -- The Traveling Record Man, with very good liner notes from Ray Topping and Ted Carroll.
I concur on the Ike / Proper set -- but I am the ultimate fan of (pre-Tina) Ike Turner. The trove of music he played and recorded from 1948-1958 is as good as it gets. JSP has a great box set (Classic Early Side, with notes by Neal Slaven), as does Secret Records (That Kat Sure Could Play!).
Best,
-Slim

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for the great comments, Slim. I bought the Robert Palmer book back in the 1980s but it's decades since I last read it. I've got down off the shelf for another read. Thanks also for the CD recommendations. Yeah, I forgot to mention The Traveling Record Man. Think it was a sort of "trailer" for the series. Or at least that's the way it turned out!

Not every post will be as thorough as this one, but yeah I'll still do some in depth writing on the background to these albums. In a way I'm rediscovering my own record collection and the the posts are a sort of by product of that.

BW

Anonymous said...

BW,
Rediscovery is a great thing -- can be a little like rebirth. I have been dusting off my blues LPs from 50+ years ago lately and digging into the writing to deepen the experience.
Keep up the good work!
-Slim

Tony aka Pismotality said...


"In a way I'm rediscovering my own record collection and the the posts are a sort of by product of that."

Think that's a good way of looking at it. It's great to have readers - and I really appreciate your comments about my own blog - but I think blogging is best viewed as a way of discovering/clarifying things for yourself which you hope/trust may also be of interest to others. Also the beauty of blogging is that with no deadlines to worry about, no publisher breathing down your neck, you can write as much or as little as mood dictates. It's good to know that you've got appreciative readers like these out there!