Clifford Gibson

Tired of Being Mistreated

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More ruminative than Charlie Patton and considerably less tragic than Robert Johnson, Clifford Gibson (1901-1963) spent much of his life serenading the public on the streets of St. Louis MO (sometimes in the company of a performing dog) and never achieved the posthumous fame of his contemporaries. His main body of recorded work dates from June 1929 through June 1931, and was first released on compact disc in 1991 by Document Records, Ltd. of Vienna, Austria. In 2002, P-Vine brought out Tired of Being Mistreated, which contains all 23 titles from the Document issue in the same chronological order amended with a rare early example of a Clifford Gibson cover by singing pianist Roosevelt Sykes and guitarist Oscar Carter. Their recording of "I'm Tired of Being Mistreated" was made shortly after Gibson's original in June 1929. On tracks 1-18, Gibson performs alone, handling his guitar exquisitely and singing his heart out in an honest, straightforward manner. Tracks 19-23 were recorded in Gibson's home town of Louisville, KY in June 1931. On "She Rolls It Slow" and "Railroad Man," he is accompanied by Sykes, and for "Happy Days Blues" and "She's Got Jordan River in Her Hips" the two men are joined by a vocalist identified as R.T. Hanen, which is believed to have been a pseudonym for J.D. Short. "Let Me Be Your Sidetrack" is a duet with yodeling country-folk-blues legend Jimmie Rodgers. Reluctant to break the color bar in an entertainment market where biracial performances were believed to be an affront to segregated audiences, the producers at Victor held back this recording, and on the issued version, Rodgers accompanied himself on the guitar. This disc does not contain every single record that Clifford Gibson made during the late 1920s and early '30s. He may be heard on six recordings made in 1929 with Ed Bell, a guitarist whose poignant style and skillful technique made him a perfect match for Gibson; and backing St. Louis blues singer Jimmy Strange on a couple of titles from 1931. Until someone pulls out all the stops with an exhaustively complete Clifford Gibson edition, P-Vine's Tired of Being Mistreated is the best way to hear this still underappreciated master of early blues guitar.

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