Blues In The Night
The First Time I Met The Blues, various artists, When The Sun Goes Down Series, RCA Victor Records, 2002
As one can tell by the title of this series "When The Sun Goes Down", a series that has also included the work of Blind Willie McTell an artist that I have reviewed in this space previously, this is going to be a bedrock example of a thoughtful way to preserve our blues history. As in the McTell case it does not fail us here. What the folks who have produced this series and this particular CD have done is gone to the old RCA Victor vaults and selected some very nice and very representative songs (and a few obscure one, as well) from the early 1920’s on. For those not aware of this history RCA and other record companies in the 1920’s sent out agents throughout this country scouring the streets and byways for new sound- the foothills of Appalachia, the cotton field of the South, the honky-tonks of the Texas Panhandle. Wherever. Here they have gotten hold of some golden blues material. Listen up.
I will merely summarize this who’s who of early, basically, country blues. Even the barrel house blues of the cities and juke joints has that country flavor during this period. It is not until later when the blues moved north to Memphis and Chicago with the black migration away from the farms and, more importantly got electrified, that we get a bit of a different sound. The tunes here depend on piano, harmonica and acoustic guitar for the most part. Here is what you need to hear- Victoria Spivey (an extremely important figure in the blues business in her own who deserves an entry of her own) on "Telephoning The Blues"; of course, Blind Willie McTell on the classic, no, super classic "Statesboro Blues"; Memphis Jug Band of "Cocaine Habit Blues" (before it was illegal); Sippy Wallace- "The Texas Nightingale"-on "I’m A Mighty Tight Woman"; Jimmie Rodgers on "Blue Yodel#9" (hard to do by the way on a blues number); Little Brother Montgomery on the title cut; and, Blind Willie Reynolds on "Married Woman Blues". You can find your own favorites out of the 25 that you have to choose from here. Nice, just very nice.