Various Artists

Georgia Blues & Gospel 1927-1931

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Released in 1993 and reissued in 2005, Document's Georgia Blues & Gospel 1927-1931 is a warmly rewarding collection of old-styled African-American music from the East Coast, mostly recorded in the state of Georgia during the years 1927-1931 by three old-style bluesmen and one barrelhouse blues woman. Gospel is present to a small degree in a handful of titles and lyrics, while a powerful spiritual component pervades some of the ruminations, without any actual preaching going on. The first 11 selections, which include four alternate takes, are believed to represent the complete recordings of Julius Daniels, who was born in Denmark, SC, in 1902; came up in Pineville, NC; made these Victor recordings in Atlanta, GA, in February and October 1927; and died from heart disease in Charlotte, NC, on October 18, 1947. George Carter, who seems to have actually lived and worked in Atlanta, handled the 12-string guitar in an arrestingly gentle and almost harp-like manner, much more delicate than the often percussive technique employed by his famous contemporary Blind Willie McTell. Carter made his four Paramount records in Chicago in February 1929. Lil McClintock recorded for Columbia in Atlanta in December 1930, and is said to have lived in Clinton, SC. Each of these men made music in an old-fashioned manner that recalls the folksy, sometimes ragtime-infused blues of Henry Thomas and Jim Jackson, with room for comparison with Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, Furry Lewis, and Scrapper Blackwell. Daniels' "Can't Put the Bridle on That Mule This Morning" has a lot in common with Thomas' "Charming Betsy." Lil McClintock's "Don't Think I'm Santa Claus" is a wonderfully preserved patchwork quilt of four early 20th century melodies. Ken Romanowski's informative and insightful notes reveal that "You Must Think I'm Santa Claus" was written by Irving Thomas and Maxwell Silver; "By the Watermelon Vine, Lindy Lou," an authentic link with blackface minstrelsy, is credited to Thomas S. Allen; "Keep a Little Cozy Corner in Your Heart for Me" was composed by Jack Drislane and Theodore Morse; and "Everybody Works But Father" (performed years later at Carnegie Hall by an elderly Groucho Marx) was the brainchild of one Jean Havez. "Furniture Man," which deals with debt and repossession, is closely linked with various songs that document the effects of cocaine addiction and form a sort of old-time "repo man" mini-genre. Next to nothing is known about Lillie Mae, a gutsy vocalist who on her Columbia recordings emulates the slow and purposeful blues of Ma Rainey but also kicks up a bit of toe-tapping hokum on "Bootie Wah Bootie" and "Mama Don't Want It," a couple of really fine OKeh records that bring to mind the good-time blues of Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy, and Washboard Sam. Lillie Mae's pianist remains anonymous, but her guitarists are believed to have been Curley Weaver and Barbecue Bob.

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