Boogie Woogie and Barrelhouse Piano, Vol. 2 (1928-1930)

Various Artists

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Boogie Woogie and Barrelhouse Piano, Vol. 2 (1928-1930) Review

by arwulf arwulf

Document's second volume of early blues, boogie-woogie, and barrelhouse piano dishes out 24 recordings made in Chicago, Richmond, IN, and Grafton, WI during the years 1928-1930 and originally issued on Paramount, Brunswick, and Vocalion, beginning with what is probably the best single recording that James "Boodle It" Wiggins ever made. "Keep A-Knockin' an' You Can't Get In" rolls and rocks, and is bolstered with charismatic kazoo passages of terrific warmth. The man playing piano behind Wiggins is believed to have been Bob Call, executor of a very solid "31 Blues" and future cohort of Big Bill Broonzy, Jazz Gillum, Robert Nighthawk, and Arbee Stidham. Recorded for Paramount in June 1929, "Walking Blues" is one of the few surviving examples of Raymond Barrow's performance technique; the only other readily locatable title by this artist, "State Street Jive," is not included on this collection. Tracks 5-12 appear to comprise the complete recorded works of Blind Leroy Garnett, a fine boogie man ("Chain 'Em Down," "Louisiana Glide"), a solid accompanist for Wiggins, who blows into a harmonica during the "Weary Heart Blues," and firm support for Marie Griffin, whose "Blue and Disgusted" b/w "What Do You Think This Is?" convey the kind of salty attitude that's regularly encountered in early blues while seldom surfacing in pop music of similar vintage. Wiggins returns with an unidentified pianist for a gritty take of "Corinne Corinna" and his own treatment of "Shave 'Em Dry," a song that had been popularized by Ma Rainey and was soon to be transformed into a sexually explicit underground classic by Lucille Bogan under the name Bessie Jackson. The one pianist on this collection who comes with biographical data is Romeo Nelson (1902-1974) a native of Springfield, TN who in 1915 studied with a pianist named Window in East St. Louis and recorded his relatively famous "Head Rag Hop" at a session he shared with guitarist Tampa Red in September 1929. This little item has been reissued on no less than 16 different blues and boogie-woogie collections; it appears here alongside the "11:29 Blues," subtitled "The Midnight Special"; a moody "Dyin' Rider Blues," and the feisty "Getting' Dirty Just Shakin' That Thing," which features spoken interjections by Tampa Red and female impersonator Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon. As for Rudy Foster and Piano Kid Edwards, we're damned lucky to have access to their few surviving recorded works, which constitute a high-carbohydrate conclusion to this very enjoyable anthology of historic blues and boogie from the Great Lakes region.

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