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Bottleneck Guitar (4CD)
Release Date: 09/11/2018
Catalogue No.: JSP77211
Record Label: JSP
Format: CD

Like so much of blues history, the origins of slide guitar are lost in the mists of time swirling and obscuring any possible documentation. Some suggest that the popularity of Hawaiian music in the 1910s was an influence, but as I noted a while ago, if you were growing up in a clapboard shack in the Mississippi Delta in 1900 or thereabouts, Hawaiians didn’t walk past your door every day. The classic reference is to W.C. Handy’s 1903 encounter with a musician sliding a knife over the strings of his guitar, proving that the technique preceded the arrival of the Hawaiian style by at least a decade. A more likely source is the instruments played by West African griots. In Portrait Of The Blues, CeDell Davis explained to Paul Trynka how a diddley bow was constructed: ‘When you buy a broom they had a special kind of wire was wrapped around the bottom to hold the straw on the broom. That’s the kind of wire we would use...You got one nail here, you wrapped the wire around it real tight, then you drive it into the wall . . . Pull the wire stretched tight as you can, do the same thing at the other end. You get a glass snuff bottle and put that in between the string and the wall and press it down and that’s what gets you the sound. Then you find you a coke flavour bottle and that’s what you pick it with, slide it up and down. The diddley bow goes way back. It comes from Africa.’ When Handy made his discovery, the guitar was gaining in popularity over the banjo and violin which until then had been the favoured instruments of country musicians. Slide guitar became the natural consequence of using the technique learned on the diddley bow, keeping a rhythmic pulse on the bass strings with the thumb while using a bottle or a knife to slide over the treble strings. As this collection illustrates, slide guitarists encompassed a whole gamut of techniques, some content to play standard rhythm and counterpoint, while others developed more complex styles combining finger-picked patterns with dazzling slide filigree. The first musician to play slide on record was Sylvester Weaver, who cut ‘Guitar Rag’ in October 1923. Western Swing guitarist Leon McAuliffe adapted the tune, calling it ‘Steel Guitar Rag’ while neglecting to acknowledge Weaver’s original composition. Three years after Weaver’s recording, Blind Lemon Jefferson made his own contribution, ‘Jack O’Diamond Blues’, his slide closely following his vocal, sometimes ending the vocal line on its own. It took a while before blues enthusiasts became aware of the interaction between black and white musicians. Frank Hutchison learned to play slide guitar from the black Bill Hunt and ‘Worried Blues’ showed how thoroughly he’d taken to it. His contemporary Riley Puckett, one of Gid Tanner’s Skillet-Lickers, recorded ‘A Darkey’s Wail’ in Atlanta, and it’s thought the musician he refers to is Blind Willie McTell. How do you avoid Robert Johnson? Now that the adulation has died down and so-called experts need to reassess their judgement, it’s become time to denigrate his status. But one listen to ‘Traveling Riverside Blues (here in its first take) confirms his unique position as the conduit through which pre-war blues made its transition to post-war influence. Most labels can offer either ‘vintage’ recordings or contemporary material. Here we have the opportunity to do both on one set. The newer material here on disc 4 both stands alongside the vintage tracks and also moves things along stylistically as it should. I have always believed that modern blues must reflect the time that it’s recorded but also that certain fundamental rules apply to how ‘real music’ should be recorded. So the Blues didn’t die, hasn’t died, has some really top class modern practitioners and we can enjoy the great classics as one discs 1 to 3 and the recent and modern classics as on Disc 4 here. NEIL SLAVEN & JOHN STEDMAN TRACKLIST CD A: 1.BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON: Jack O’Diamond Blues Tk 2 2.BIG BOY CLEVELAND: Goin’ To Leave You Blues 3.BO WEAVIL JACKSON: You Can’t Keep No Brown 4.FRANK HUTCHISON: Worried Blues 5.SAM COLLINS: The Jail House Blues 6.SAM BUTLER: Jefferson County Blues alt 7.RILEY PUCKETT: A Darkey’s Wail 8.BLIND WILLIE McTELL: Mama Tain’t Long Fo’ Day 9.HELEN HUMES: Alligator Blues 10.WEAVER & BEASLEY: Bottleneck Blues 11.BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON: Mother’s Children Have A Hard Time 12.BOBBY GRANT: Nappy Head Blues 13.RAMBLIN’ THOMAS: No Job Blues 14.LEMUEL TURNER: Jake Bottle Blues 15.BARBECUE BOB: Chocolate To The Bone 16.NELLIE FLORENCE: Midnight Weeping Blues 17.TAMPA RED: Through Train Blues 18.FURRY LEWIS: Cannon Ball Blues alt 19.CURLEY WEAVER: No No Blues 20.WILLIE BAKER: Weak Minded Blues 21.GEORGE CARTER: Weeping Willow Blues 22.HAMBONE WILLIE NEWBERN: Roll And Tumble Blues 23.CHARLEY PATTON: A Spoonful Blues 24.CHARLIE McCOY: Last Time Blues 25.BLIND JOE REYNOLDS: Cold Woman Blues CD B: 1.JIM THOMPKINS: Bedside Blues 2.WILLIE HARRIS: Never Drive A Stranger From Your Door 3.SON HOUSE: Mississippi County Farm Blues 4.WASHINGTON WHITE: The Panama Limited 5.BAYLESS ROSE: Frisco Blues 6.SHREVEPORT HOME WRECKERS: Fence Breakin’ Blues 7.GITFIDDLE JIM: Paddlin’ Madeline 8.RUTH WILLIS: Experience Blues 9.KING SOLOMON HILL: Whoopee Blues Tk 1 10.CLIFF CARLISLE: Ash Can Blues 11.BUDDY MOSS: Hard Road Blues 12.JIMMIE DAVIS: Sewing Machine Blues 13.FRED McMULLEN: DeKalb Chain Gang 14.GEORGIA BROWNS: Decatur Street 81 15.TAMPA RED: Denver Blues 16.ALLEN SHAW: Moanin’ The Blues 17.KOKOMO ARNOLD: Sissy Man Blues 18.LEADBELLY: Packin’ Trunk Blues 19.BLIND BOY FULLER: Homesick And Lonesome Blues 20.GABRIEL BROWN: John Henry 21.BIG JOE WILLIAMS: Wild Cow Blues 22.CASEY BILL WELDON: W.P.A. Blues 23.SAM MONTGOMERY: Where The Sweet Old Oranges Grow 24.OSCAR WOODS: Don’t Sell It – Don’t Give It Away 25.BLACK ACE: Trifling Woman CD C: 1.ROBERT JOHNSON: Traveling Riverside Blues Tk. 1 2.SMITH CASEY: East Texas Rag 3.DIXON BROTHERS: Weave Room Blues 4.BUKKA WHITE: Po’ Boy 5.ROBERT LEE McCOY: Friar’s Point Blues 6.NOAH MOORE: Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ 7.OSCAR WOODS: Sometimes I Get To Thinkin’ Tk 2 8.ROBERT LOCKWOOD: Little Boy Blue 9.ALLISON MATHIS: Mama You Goin’ To Quit Me 10.GUS GIBSON: Milk Cow Blues 11.DAN PICKETT: Baby, How Long 12.PINETOP SLIM: Appejack Boogie 13.MUDDY WATERS: You Got To Take Sick And Die Some Of These Days 14.ROBERT NIGHTHAWK: Black Angel Blues 15.JOHN LEE: Down At The Depot 16.DONNA HIGHTOWER: I Ain’t In The Mood 17.ELMORE JAMES: Dust My Broom 18.SISTER O.M. TERRELL: Swing Low Chariot 19.JOHN LEE HOOKER: Rock House Boogie 20.JB HUTTO: Dim Lights 21.HOMESICK JAMES: Late Hours At Midnight 22.JOHNNY SHINES: Ramblin’ 23.FRED McDOWELL: When You Get Home, Write Me A Few Little Lines 24.JOHN DUDLEY: Po’ Boy 25.ELMORE JAMES: Done Somebody Wrong CD D: 1.KENNY PARKER w. THE BUTLER TWINS: That Old Devil (Crossroads) 2.LOUISIANA RED: Steel On My Hand 3.JOE LOUIS WALKER: Slide Her Up And Down 4.ELMORE JAMES Jr: Cummins Prison Farm 5.STEVE PLAIR w. BREWER PHILLIPS & THE HOUSEROCKERS: Poison Ivy 6.JOHNNY LITTLEJOHN: Keep On Running 7.AMOS SANDFORD w. DOC TERRY: Things Can’t Stay The Same 8.BYTHER SMITH: Looking For A Woman 9.LUCKY PETERSON: Be Your Man 10.MICHAEL HILL: Mr Hubert Sumlin 11.LOUISIANA RED: Sweet Leg Girl 12.JOHN LEE GRANDERSON: Lonesome Blues 13.JOHNNY SHINES: Rambling Blues

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Bottleneck Guitar (4CD)

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