One of the greatest of all jug bands and possibly the most influential, the Memphis Jug Band recorded extensively from 1927-1930. All of its recordings (other than three sessions from 1934) have been reissued by the European Document label on three CDs. The original version of the group consisted of Will Shade on harmonica, guitar, and/or vocals; Ben Ramey on kazoo; guitarist/signer Will Weldon; and Charlie Polk on jug. During the year-long period covered in this CD, the only significant personnel change was the addition of Vol Stevens on banjo-mandolin and guitar. The good-time music that they performed ranged from blues to pop numbers and even a couple waltzes. All three of the Document CDs are fairly equal in quality, with the second volume getting a slight edge. Among the highlights of Vol. 1 are "Memphis Jug Blues," "I Packed My Suitcase, Started to the Train," "Kansas City Blues" (recorded just a few days after Jim Jackson's famous version), the heated "Beale Street Mess Around," and a previously unreleased "She Stays Out All Night Long." Fun music that still communicates to today's listeners.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow