Pete Johnson

The Boogie Woogie Boys

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In 1995, Document introduced The Boogie Woogie Boys, a 16-track compilation of audio-marginalia left over from the discographies of pianists Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, and Meade "Lux" Lewis. This is similar in some ways to Document's action-packed Meade Lux Lewis compilation of rare and unusual alternate takes, soundtracks and live performances (DOCD 5561). The Boogie Woogie Boys is recommended for those who are already familiar with the primary works of Johnson, Ammons, and Lewis and are ready for deeper diggings. The Library of Congress transcriptions are filled with questions, answers, narrative, and conversation; there is also a film soundtrack from 1941 and clusters of alternate takes by Ammons and Johnson with trumpeter Harry James' Boogie Woogie Trio. While most of the transfers sound pretty good, Johnson's "Four O'Clock Blues" was lifted directly from a damaged platter and really needs to be rendered more intelligible through computerized restoration. When JSP included this recording on the box set Hey! Piano Man, the sound quality was just as bad and maybe even worse. It's very tantalizing, as Johnson can be heard thinking out loud as it were, and anyone who loves this kind of music is going to want to be able to decipher what was on his mind. Seeing as Jelly Roll Morton's Library of Congress recordings have now been restored by Rounder using state-of-the-art technology, it seems like the rest of the Library's sizeable audio archive of African American music ought to be carefully remastered and made available to the public. A good place for that project to begin would be with Pete Johnson's "Four O'Clock Blues."

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