Various Artists

Too Late, Too Late Blues, Vol. 10: 1926-1951

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Back in the 1990s, the Document reissue label assembled a series of more than a dozen compilations containing extra material by artists already featured in the catalog and numerous instances of material so rare as to exist within their own category. Each volume in the series carried the title "Too Late, Too Late," and each installment is ideally suited for the kind of listener who fits the profile of the audio-archaeologist; and for whom no record is too scratchy and any performance is worth hearing and appreciating. The historic breadth of these anthologies can be dizzying, and Vol. 4 in the series reaches back to the year 1892. Vol. 10 covers the years 1926-1951, which is a longer-than-average stretch for most blues-oriented retrospectives. Document specializes in the unearthing of music that often seems to be entirely unavailable anywhere else. In addition to ensembles with colorful names like the Three Bad Habits, the Jacksonville Harmony Trio, the Nashville Washboard Band, and the Camp Action Jive Cats, there are precious moments with guitarist Blind Blake (who contributes an alternate version of his magnum opus "Diddie Wa Diddie"); pianist Charlie Spand, and vocalist Hattie Burleson, who is backed by the Texas-based H. Hudson Orchestra, a little-known organization that employed trumpeter and future bandleader Don Albert. This is an unissued test pressing of Burleson's "Jim Nappy," a title that is already plenty rare as a master take. There are famous and relatively well-known names like Big Joe Williams, Ivory Joe Hunter, Sonny Terry, and Ralph Willis, as well as artists deserving better recognition like Stanford Mosby, Bill Williams, and Ramblin' Thomas. Probably the most intriguing hard-to-come-by material consists of documentary recordings of the Library of Congress or Folkways variety, wherein members of the Nashville Washboard Band demonstrate their artistry in front of the microphone. Theopolis Stokes explains his washboard technique, Thomas James Carroll expounds on the "Bullfiddle" and "Cord-Can-One-String Tuning," and James Kelly summons his mandolin for a brief but stirring duet with Carroll on "The Bye Bye Blues." Amazing stuff, and where else on earth are you going to find it?

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