Various Artists

Prison Blues [Catfish]

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The nomadic lifestyle of the blues performer in the American South in the 1920s and '30s, coupled with the necessity of plying one's trade in juke joints and gin mills, often led to incarceration, and songs about jailhouses and prison farms abound. Catfish Records, a fine blues reissue label out of London, has collected some two dozen of those laments here, remastered from the original 78s. They range from the familiar (Leadbelly's "Midnight Special") to the obscure (Peg Leg Howell's "New Prison Blues," which contains the line "drink your blood like wine," cribbed by Bob Dylan for "Stuck Inside of Mobile"), from the resigned (Blind Boy Fuller's "Big House Bound") to the humorous (in "Christmas in Jail, Ain't That a Pain," Leroy Carr pleads with Santa to give him a break). Also includes Bukka White's thundering original version of "Parchman Farm Blues."

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:04
2 2:45
3 3:00
4 3:18
5 2:30
6 3:12
7 3:04
8 2:47
9 2:04
10 3:17
11 2:40
12 3:16
13 3:05
14 3:31
15 2:32
16 2:54
17 2:46
18 2:53
19 2:41
20 3:04
21 2:38
22 2:40
23
3:04
blue highlight denotes track pick