Big Bill Broonzy

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1934-1935)

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Big Bill Broonzy's absorption of the urbanized Chicago blues style was essentially complete by the time of the 1934-35 recordings assembled here. The highlight is a highly productive session featuring the State Street Boys, a group featuring Broonzy alongside harpist Jazz Gillum, guitarist Carl Martin, pianist Black Bob and violinist Zeb Wright, whose dissonant, scraping style lends the combo a highly distinctive sound; their material is fascinatingly diverse, ranging from the train songs "Midnight Special" and "Mobile and Western Line" to the saucy "She Caught the Train" and the much-covered "Don't Tear My Clothes." Also with Black Bob, Broonzy continued recording more simplified guitar/piano duets -- their "Southern Blues" is a lovely and nostalgic reminiscence about life on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line, while "Good Jelly" ranks among his most lyrically inventive efforts.

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