Peetie Wheatstraw


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A brooding sobriquet like "The Devil's Son-In-Law" belies the laid-back vocal and piano style of blues luminary Peetie Wheatstraw. Originator of the refrain "ooh well well" heard on countless blues recordings, Wheatstraw stuck to the lower end of his vocal range and seemed to slur his words as he talk-sung his way through numbers. Far from being unintelligible, though, his delivery featured a rich mix of varied textures and expressive accents; reportedly, his piano and guitar playing were equally impressive. For this collection of tracks from the end of his career (1937-1941), the singer is accompanied by jazz and blues stars like Sammy Price, Lil Armstrong, Lonnie Johnson, Champion Jack Dupree, Teddy Bun, Sid Catlett, and Jonah Jones, among others. With a urbane acoustic blues sound similar to peers and predecessors like Leroy Carr, Bumble Bee Slim, and Big Maceo, Wheatstraw works through all of the 18 tracks here with ease and style. His subject matter takes in traditional blues topics like relationship strife ("No 'Count Woman"), sexual double entendre ("My Little Bit"), depression ("Suicide Blues"), and folk existentialism ("Sinking Sun Blues"). A great import that might not be equal to collections of early Wheatstraw material, but one that's sure to satisfy fans all the same.