Charley Jordan

Charley Jordan Vol. 2, 1931-34

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As good as the Charley Jordan material here is, the real find of this disc is Hi Henry Brown's recording of "Titanic Blues" and its guitar duet between Brown and Jordan. As a piece of belated topical blues, it is an extraordinary song, but the exciting interplay between two guitars really makes the record and, coupled with Brown's rough-hewn voice, makes it a track to own -- the additional Brown/Jordan tracks "Preacher Blues" and "Nut Factory Blues" constitute a good bonus. This volume of Charley Jordan's material covers the period from his brief stay at Victor Records (four sides cut in September of 1931) to his first session with a full band on Decca Records in the summer of 1934. The four Victor sides (which were cut in Chicago) have a peculiar, authentic "live" ambience that, coupled with their good fidelity, makes them especially vibrant; Peetie Wheatstraw's piano accompaniment has a certain distance and echo that evokes a true club atmosphere. Jordan's subsequent Vocalion sides give much greater prominence to the guitar and Wheatstraw's piano isn't nearly as vivid. As a solo player, Jordan was more laidback, but he still manages to impress as a virtuoso. The four Decca sides are the best recordings here on a technical level -- "It Ain't Clean" is amazingly crisp -- but two of them, "Lost Airship Blues" (what a title, and what a phallic image) and "Rolling Moon Blues," are particularly notable for the presence of a full band, complete with sax and violin. Their sound is completely different (although Jordan still makes himself felt on guitar) from Jordan's earlier output, but both find him able to work well in this more sophisticated idiom. The overall audio quality is good, apart from the barely listenable "Brown Skin Angel" -- a few sides, like "Hell Bound Boy Blues" and the wonderful "Rolling Moon Blues," are a little noisy, but that's par for the course.

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