Tommy McClennan

Cross Cut Saw Blues, Vol. 2 1940-1942

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One of the last of the old country bluesmen to record, the diminutive Tommy McClennan delivered 40-some tracks to Bluebird Records between 1939 and 1942 before vanishing into the haze of blues history. Although small in stature, McClennan had a strong, raspy voice that brought a lively exuberance to his often generic lyrics, and his habit of tossing in spoken interjections -- he literally talked to himself as he sang -- give his songs the feel of intimate dialogues. This collection is the second, and final, installment of McClennan's Bluebird sessions to be released by Document Records. Unfortunately, the first one, 1939-1940 Whiskey Head Woman, Vol. 1, has most of his essential recordings on it. McClennan was a limited guitarist, and his singing approach, while exciting, was essentially shouting, and he had obviously run out of fresh ideas by the time of these final recordings. There are some highlights here, though, including two versions of Hacksaw Harney's "Cross Cut Saw Blues," an interesting take on the "Catfish Blues" theme called "Deep Blue Sea Blues," and the final two tracks, two versions of "Bluebird Blues."

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