Document's second volume devoted to the (nearly) complete recordings of blues guitarist Sylvester Weaver covers the second half of his brief recording career, beginning with three titles waxed on August 31, 1927 and filling the rest of the picture with 18 sides cut three months later on November 26, 27, and 30. Opening with the last two solo records he is known to have made, this tasty collection gathers in all of Weaver's collaborations with guitarist Walter Beasley, blended with five titles featuring a young vocalist by the name of Helen Humes. Like Weaver a native of Louisville KY, Humes was only 14 years old when she recorded these salty sides with titles like "Cross Eyed Blues," "Garlic Blues," and "Nappy Headed Blues." Although Weaver is said to have "discovered" her, Humes' recording debut actually took place more than half a year earlier in April at the age of 13! The Weaver/Beasley duo was a fine unit that compares and contrasts nicely with that of Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang, who would begin making records together in November 1928 with Lang billed as Blind Willie Dunn in an attempt by the record company to mask his whiteness. Many of the Weaver/Beasley duets were issued under Weaver's name, and in fact the only titles released as by Walter Beasley were "Georgia Skin" and "Southern Man Blues." Four titles were recorded as by Weaver and Beasley: "Soft Steel Piston," "St. Louis Blues," "Bottleneck Blues," and the delectable "Me and My Tapeworm," subtitled "Hungry Blues," which the squeamish management at OKeh left unissued for some unaccountable reason. Taken at face value, a song about an intestinal parasite occupies a special niche in musical history alongside the "Mean Old Bedbug Blues," Memphis Minnie's report on her bout with meningitis and other bracingly honest testimonials describing problems that make the usual interpersonal relationship woes pale by comparison. Think about it. What could bring on the blues more viscerally than discovering that you are playing host to your very own tapeworm? Years later, Alan "Duke of Ook" Seidler made a valiant effort to explore this thorny issue with his "Oozing Cyst Blues," and dozens of equally gross examples have probably surfaced since then in the blues and other fecund genres.
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1927) Review
by arwulf arwulf