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Trixie Smith

Trixie Smith – Vol 2 1925 – 1939

Everybody loves my baby (take 6) – How come you do me like you do? (take 6) – You’ve got to beat me to keep me – Mining camp blues (take 1) – Mining camp blues (take 2) – The worlds jazz crazy and so am I (take 1) – The worlds jazz crazy and so am I (take 2) – Railroad blues (take 1) – Railroad blues (take 2) – Everybodys doing that Charleston now (take 1) – He likes it slow (take 2) – Black bottom hop – Love me like you used to do – Messinaround (take 1) – Messin around (take 2) – Freight train blues – Trixie blues – My daddy rocks me – My daddy rocks me no. 2 – He may be your man (but he comes to see me sometime) – Jack I`m mellow – My unusual man – No good man

Trixie Smith

The first two tracks, recorded in January 1925, feature Phil Napoleon on trumpet, Miff Mole on trombone, Jimmy Lytell on clarinet, Frank Signorelli on piano, and Jack Roth on drums. The result is two lively versions of “Everybody Loves My Baby” and “How Come You Do Me Like You Do.”
The following month she recorded the next session with a new lineup of her Down Home Syncopators, which included Charlie Dixon on banjo, Fletcher Henderson on piano, Buster Bailey on clarinet, Charlie Green on trombone, and Louis Armstrong on cornet.
This session and the next one (March 1925) with the same backing band are more in a blues vein. Next to Mining Camp Blues, Railroad Blues, and The World’s Jazz Crazy And So Am I, you’ll find the unsettling and masochistic “You’ve Got To Beat Me To Keep Me.” Written by Porter Grainger, composer of the blues standard “T’ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” it features disturbing lyrics like “You’ve got to beat me to keep me, ’cause Mama loves a hard-boiled man / So don’t you let no man cheat me if he’s got a good right hand. / Beat me up for breakfast, knock me down for tea, / Black my eye for supper, then you’re pleasing me. / You’ve got to beat me to keep me cause Mama loves a hard-boiled man. / Mama don’t want no diamond rings, and she don’t want no swell clothes / Wail me daddy til it stings across my mouth and nose. / I don’t want no hug and kiss, / I don’t want no love and smile, / Beat me with your hand or fist, Papa like I was your child.” As you can see, it’s not your average “I woke up this morning, and you left me” kind of blues.
At the end of the year, she collaborated with Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra to record four songs. These includes the lively “Everybody’s Doing That Charleston Now” and the excellent “He Likes It Slow.” Other tracks from the session were “Black Bottom Hop” and “Love Me Like You Used To Do,” which is quite similar to “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home.”

The song “Messin’ Around” was recorded in July 1926 with Johnny Blythe and his Raggamuffins. This lively and joyful number showcased Trixie Smith’s vocals and featured a top-notch band including Freddie Keppard and Johnny Dodds.
After a twelve-year hiatus, Smith returned to the studio in 1938, backed by Sidney Bechet, Sammy Price, O’Neil Spencer, and Teddy Bunn, among others. Better recorded and preserved, this session allows listeners to clearly hear Smith’s fantastic voice (and elocution) and one can regret she stayed far from the studios for so long. The material contains new versions of songs she recorded decades earlier (see Volume 1) and ranges from blues (Freight Train Blues, Trixie Blues) to swing (Jack I’m Mellow) and featured high-class performances from the band (Teddy Bunn’s guitar chorus on “Trixie Blues” is worth mentioning). In 1939, she recorded “No Good Man” with Sid Catlett, Red Allen, and Barney Bigard before disappearing and passing away four years later.

Available here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Hociel Thomas & Lillie Delk Christian

Hociel Thomas & Lillie Delk Christian – 1925-1928

Document – DOCD-5448
Hociel Thomas (1925-1926) gamblers dream – Sunshine baby – Adam and Eve had the blues – Put it where I can get it – Wash woman blues – Ive stopped my man – Deep water blues – Gwan I told you – Listen to ma – Lonesome hours - Lillie Delk Christian (1926-1928) Lonesome and sorry – Baby o mine (take a) – Baby omine (take b) – It all depends on you – Aint she sweet – My blue heaven – Whos wonderful! Whos marvellous? Miss Annabelle Lee – Youre a real sweetheart – Too busy! – Was it a dream? (waltz) – Last night I dreamed you kissed me – I cant give you anything but love – Sweethearts on parade – Baby – I must have that man

Lillie Delk Christian Hociel Thomas

There’s a clear contrast in styles and quality between Thomas and Christian. Both tried (and sometimes succeeded) to create a hybrid of jazz-blues-pop, and both have benefited from the presence of Louis Armstrong’s cornet. The comparison ends here.
Hociel Thomas hailed from a family of musicians. Her father was a renowned pianist, and her aunt was none other than Sippie Wallace. Unfortunately, Thomas often sings in a key where she isn’t at ease, which results in her sounding tired and not very engaged and even top-notch musicians like Armstrong can’t transform more than average material into gold.
Lillie Delk Christian is more interesting vocally, and her material is far superior (I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Ain’t She Sweet, I Must Have That Man). This probably explains why the band gives a better performance. Noone (clarinet) and St Cyr (guitar) enliven the December 12 session featuring My Blue Heaven and Miss Annabelle Lee with gutsy accompaniment and fine solos. Armstrong appears six months later for the June 26, 1928 session. This session features the best, Too Busy, a bouncing number with Armstrong scatting, and the worst of Christian, Was It A Dream, a waltz that doesn’t allow the Hot Four to express themselves.
The last recordings lack a bit of swing in the vocals but are saved by a good rendition of I Must Have That Man.
This selection is an excellent addition to anyone interested in Satchmo’s early years and work as a backup band. Despite some flaws and, Lillie Delk Christian’s sides have a certain charm and are appealing enough for a curious listener and anyone who digs Annette Hanshaw with whom she shares a common repertoire and style.

Find it here.

Note: two more Christian tunes (Sweet georgia Brown and Sweet Man) can be found on Vocal Blues & Jazz – Remaining Titles Vol. 3: (1921-1928)

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Tommy Johnson

Tommy Johnson – 1928 – 1929

Document Records – DOCD-5001
Cool drink of water blues – Big road blues – Bye-bye blues – Maggie Campbell blues – Canned heat blues – Lonesome home blues (take 1) – Lonesome home blues (take 2) – Big fat mama blues – I wonder to myself – Slidin` delta – Lonesome home blues – Boogaloosa woman – Morning prayer – Black mare blues (take 1) – Black mare blues (take 2) – Ridin` horse – Alcohol and jake blues

Tommy Johnson

Probably because he doesn’t have the same romantic aura around him as his homonym Robert, Tommy is not the Johnson that history, or more precisely the media, remembers.
His recording career was brief, with only 17 titles, all available here, but the quality was constant.
During two sessions, one for Victor (songs 1-8) and the other for Paramount (9 to 17), he recorded one of the most interesting, rich and unique catalogues in terms of Delta Blues that’ll influence many generations after him (Howlin Wolf, Houston Stackhouse…). He was also among the first to come with the “crossroad mythology”.
His voice is full of intensity, especially on autobiographical pieces like “Canned Heat Blues” or “Maggie Campbell Blues” (named after one of his wives) and can turn into a high-pitched falsetto, sometimes close to yodel. He supports it with a solid guitar style inspired by Charley Patton. Some sides show him backed by a second guitar (Charlie McCoy), a clarinet, and a piano on Black Mare Blues.
Maybe the Paramount sides, compared to the Victor recordings, don’t fit your quality standards, which is not a surprise from the label (Paramount, not Document), but make an effort, and you’ll be rewarded ten times by the quality of the music you’ll hear.
Sadly, Johnson’s bad temper and his alcoholic habits didn’t allow him to build a “serious” career, which I guess led to more alcoholism. He lost his royalties gambling and drinking and died in extreme poverty in 1956.
His musical legacy is a must-have for anyone interested in Delta Blues.

Available here
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Big Mama Thorton

Big Mama Thorton – Just Like A Dog

El Toro ET15.138
Just Like a Dog (Barking Up the Wrong Tree) – My Man Called Me / Stop A-Hoppin’ On Me – I Smell a Rat

Big Mama Thorton

Big Mama Thornton, and her incredible voice, need no introduction (so I hope). This EP gathers four tracks. On side A, you’ll find the rocking Just Like A Dog (this lady has something with the dogs) and the mellower My Man. The flip opens with the Rumba-tinged Rhythm’n’Blues of Stop A-Hoppin’ On Me and ends with the jungle beat of I Smell A Rat. All songs were recorded with Johnny Otis Orchestra except for Stop-A-Hoppin, which features Burt Kendricks & His Orchestra.

Tiny Topsy

Tiny Topsy – Aw! Shucks Baby

El Toro ET-15.140 –
Aw! Shucks Baby -You Shocked Me / Come On, Come On, Come On (With The Charms) – Miss You So

Tiny Topsy - Aw! Shucks Baby

By no means tiny, Tiny Topsy (real name Otha Lee Moore ) had strong lung power and a voice that could peel off the wallpaper. This Ep gathers her first single from 1957 and two A-sides from her second and fourth singles. Aw Shucks is powerful and features a Ray Felder tenor saxophone solo. You Shocked Me is less exciting and a bit too repetitive.
Things get better with Come On, Come On, Come On, which features the Charms on backing vocals. Miss You So has a solid drive on a slow boogie beat led by the guitar.

Johnny Heartsman

Johnny Heartsman – Hot House Party

Koko Mojo Records – KM-EP 111
Johnny Hartsman Band – One More Time – Eugene Blacknell – Jump Back / Johnnys Houseparty 1 – Johnnys Houseparty 2

Johnny Heartsman - Hot House Party

Heartsman’s first instrumental is good, albeit a tad repetitive. Fans of the Stray Cats would probably be interested in hearing this one. The b-side is occupied by Johnny’s Houseparty parts 1 & 2. This tune sounds like an answer to Honky Tonk with sax, organ and screams provided by The Gaylarks, who happened to be there. Eugene Blacknell and his Savonics complete the set with a groovy number featuring hot sax and dirty guitar. The perfect soundtrack for a crime B-movie.

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