Jimmie Rodgers

Train Whistle Blues [ASV/Living Era]

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This unlicensed collection of 16 Jimmie Rodgers recordings focuses, as its title indicates, on Rodgers' songs about trains, specifically, riding the rails as a hobo while thinking philosophically ("The Hobo's Meditation") and hoping to avoid both detection and death ("Hobo Bill's Last Ride"). The compiler tends to emphasize the similarities in Rodgers' musical performances by twice ending one track and beginning the next with the same yodel ("Memphis Yodel" into "Blue Yodel No. 4 [California Blues]" on side one, "My Rough and Rowdy Ways" into "Blue Yodel No. 7 [Anniversary Blue Yodel]" on side two). Some musical variation is provided in the inclusion of songs featuring a jazz group to open each side, "Jimmie's Mean Mamma Blues" and "Waiting for a Train." The last is one of Rodgers' better-known songs, but this is not a best-of collection so much as a thematic one. The transfers from old 78s result in a fair amount of surface noise, since this is not an authorized release from RCA, but rather a "public domain" release from Europe, where the copyrights on Rodgers' recordings have run out.

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