Jim Jackson

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1927-1928)

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Whew. Any collection that opens up with both sides of "Jim Jackson's Kansas City Blues" in its original October 1927 recording (predating RCA's recording of the same number by Jackson by three months) is asking for trouble, because how do you follow up the best double-sided solo blues single this side of Furry Lewis' "Casey Jones, Pts. 1 & 2"? Well, you put on a 1928 rendition of "He's in the Jailhouse Now" that's as soulful as any ever done, and a version of "Old Dog Blue" from January 1928 that could be the earliest blues incarnation of what later became the Bo Diddley beat. And somewhere in there you throw in Jackson's subsequent version of "Kansas City Blues" (the earlier one is better). And the stuff gets better from there on one of the finest solo artist compilations in the Document line, mostly with good sound, too. In contrast to Furry Lewis and almost any other blues great you'd care to name, Jackson's playing on the guitar was pretty basic (check out "Mobile-Central Blues," a great, bitter, topical song about the blues, that benefits from his repetitive playing), but the success of his work is proof that a smooth style matters more than technical skill, if the voice and the words are there. His playing fit his expressive voice, was not too obtrusive, and gave his voice just the little bit of accompaniment it needed, even embellishing the beat (as on "Old Dog Blue") when required. The sound is generally good, and it's hard to complain about the notes being a little sketchy, given the relatively little hard information known about Jackson. Seventy minutes of pure, sweet, golden acoustic blues, highlighted -- with Document's usual thoroughness -- by two different takes each of "I Heard the Voice of a Pork Chop," "Policy Blues," and "The Morning She Was Gone."

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