Monday, March 21, 2011

Blind Blake Complete Recorded Works Vols 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Vol.1 1926 - 1927.

Blind Blake, one of the top blues guitarists and singers of the 1920s, is a mystery figure whose birth and death dates are not definitively known. He recorded 84 selections in six years (1926-1932), and fortunately all have been reissued on four Document CDs. Vol. 1 mostly features Blake in unaccompanied performances other than six numbers backing singer Leola Wilson, one song in which he is joined by a kazoo player and two in which someone plays rattlebones behind his guitar. Among the classics heard on this CD are "Early Morning Blues," "Too Tight," "Come on Boys Let's Do That Messin' Around," and "Seabord Stomp." All four of Blind Blake's Document CDs are essential for every serious blues collection.

Vol.2 1927 - 1928.

Guitarist/singer Blind Blake's entire recorded output has been made available on four Document CDs. Vol. 2 covers a busy seven-month period and features Blake in several different diverse but equally rewarding settings. He performs solo; backs singers Elzadie Robinson, Bertha Henderson, and Daniel Brown; and holds his own with clarinetist Johnny Dodds and percussionist/xylophonist JImmy Bertrand in a jazz set. There are many memorable numbers among the 25 songs on this CD, including "Southern Rag," "He's in the Jailhouse Now," "Hot Potatoes" (an exuberant instrumental with Dodds), "Southbound Rag," and "No Dough Blues." Blind Blake at his best, but get all four volumes.

Vol.3 1928 - 1929.

The third volume in the series opens with a pair of mid-1928 tracks featuring Blind Blake in the role of sideman, lending his brilliant guitar leads in support of Elzadie Robinson on "Elzadie's Policy Blues" and "Pay Day Daddy Blues." Blake's next session, from later that same year, returns him to the fore, yielding the mesmerizing "Notoriety Woman," one of the most menacingly violent tracks he ever cut; the same date also produced the comparatively lighthearted "Sweet Papa Low Down," a seeming attempt to cash in on the Charleston dance craze. The real jewel of the set, however, is a 1929 session teaming him with pianist Charlie Spand; "Hastings St." is a lively, swinging guitar and piano duet, while "Police Dog Blues" is among Blake's most vividly lyrical efforts, further galvanized by his haunting instrumental work.

Vol.4 1929 - 1932.

The fourth and final volume in Document's series assembles a wide range of Blind Blake material, from sides cut under the name Blind Arthur ("Guitar Chimes" and "Blind Arthur's Breakdown"), collaborations with vaudeville singer Chocolate Brown (a.k.a. Irene Scruggs), and even his sole two-part blues, the morbid "Rope Stretchin' Blues." Among the final pair of tracks, from mid-1932, the first, "Champagne Charlie Is My Name," is so atypical that some question whether it is even Blake at all; however, his last known side, "Depression's Gone from Me Blues," is a career-capping triumph -- just why he never recorded again is just one of the many mysteries which continue to swirl about this legendary figure.

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