Is it talent or is it studio technology? In the case of Bessie Smith’s recording of ‘Blue Spirit Blues’ on the Columbia label, the answer is a bit of both.
Seems The Rev. E.W. Clayborn, aka the Guitar Evangelist, sang the blues from experience with ‘Your Enemies Can Not Harm You (But Watch Your Close Friend).’
Whatever happened to the singer who moaned, groaned and fretted about a snake we suspect got around town on two legs? We may never know Luella Miller’s fate, but one thing we do know is how much her 78 RPM record ‘Rattlesnake Groan’ has grown in value since 1927.
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. So what is the exchange rate behind the the raw emotion of Blind Willie Johnson’s performance of ‘Dark Was the Night — Cold Was The Ground’ (Columbia 14303-D).
As he cheerfully calls his honey a ho and says she smells like a goat, Washboard Walter’s ‘Long Tall Disconnected Mama’ takes the road less traveled.
A sprightly, good-timey, catchy, humorous song — complete with some flyin’ fiddle, guitar and delicious two-part harmony — “Cracking Them Things” is arguably one of The Mississippi Sheiks’ greatest records. But it also is one of the group’s rarest, as no copies are known to exist.
Bluesman Charley Patton is unhappy with the ‘Mean Black Cat’ sniffing around his woman. And, as Paramount 12943 explains, he’s irate about her skills, too.
Forty years after Henry Thomas recorded “Bull Doze Blues,” Canned Heat duplicated the vocal, the chords and the pan-pipe solo for “Going Up The Country.”
Furry Lewis made a lot of savvy choices, including hanging on to his career outside of music, so we’re guessing his advice about the dangers of pretty girls is on target.
Rare blues recordings typically fetch several hundred to a few thousand dollars on the open market, perhaps more if they are exceedingly rare, in absolutely pristine condition or from a legendary artist. This copy of Paramount 12950 featuring Tommy Johnson had all of those factors in its favor.