This is a miscellany of Big Bill Broonzy's fifties recordings. The first CD begins with "Big Bill's Blues", ten recordings made in February 1956 in Philips studios in Holland, which the original sleeve note represents as a private party rather than a recording session, presumably to deflect the charge of commercialism. That is followed by "Big Bill Broonzy Sings The Blues", nine recordings made a week earlier in Paris with Kansas Fields on drums, and issued in full on a French 10" LP, and minus "Diggin' My Potatoes" on two UK EPs.
The second CD starts off with "Folk Blues", eight numbers recorded in Chicago in December 1951 with Big Crawford on bass, and the original sleeve note is at pains to establish Big Bill's credentials as an Arkansas farmer who played and sang as a kind of sideline, rather than in reality a Chicago-based musician and singer. That's followed by "The Blues", twelve numbers recorded in Chicago a month earlier, mainly with bass accompaniment, but for the last four numbers which feature a quartet accompaniment. In addition, a further eight tracks from early 1949 are included, two at the end of the first CD, the remainder at the end of the second CD.
Big Bill is immediately identifiable, first for his finger-picking guitar style, and secondly for his high-pitched delivery. He began recording in 1926, and in the early fifties he became an important figure within the emergent folk music revival. These recordings reprise some of his earlier successes, such as "Key to the Highway" which he had recorded with Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, "Get Back" and "Keep Your Hands Off Her", and I particularly like the instrumental "Big Bill's Guitar Blues". These are late recordings (he died in August 1958) which should be of interest to all blues enthusiasts.
on 21 December 2010
A great collection of recordings superbly remastered by the excellent budget lable AVID, they specialise in re-issuing classic recordings usually from the Jazz and Big band spectrum. However, they seem, to be branching out now in what they term as 'Roots' recordings.
Big Bill Broonzy was a far more sophisticated bluesman than he was portrayed, He spent the 1930's and early forties as part of the exodus of southern born Blues singers that descended on the windy city i.e. Chicago and played electric guitar.He worked the theatres and taverns and toured with Memphis Minnie. It was however the earnest folk archivists and John Hammond with his production of 'Spirituals to Swing' held at Carnegie Hall in place of the late Robert Johnson and the European trad jazzers that re- marketed him as nothing but a simple Arakansas farm boy! Well it worked and he sold out many a crowd and pleased them with 'retro' performances.
He recorded with the Mercury label in 1949 taking on the emerging R&B sound. It was in 1952 and after his final Mercury sessions that Broonzy fianlly reverted to his country blues style and recorded prolifically for a variety of European labels. Which is where we come in with this set.
I would rate this album very highly and recommend it to anyone lacking any Big Bill Broonzy in their Collection. Or maybe you have some worn vinyl copies, then this re-issue should remedy the problem!
The albums covered are 'Big Bills Blues' 'Big Bill Broonzy Sings the Blues', 'Folk Blues' and 'The Blues'.
The first part of the album are live recordings and they are sharp considering the sometimes poor quality of live recordings of that period. Go for it !
There are some blues singers who go very deep, to the extent of sounding at times positively scary, such as Son House, Howlin` Wolf or Robert Johnson. Others mine an equally deep seam, though perhaps a little less unsettling, like the urban sound of the peerless Muddy Waters or the seething Elmore James, for whom either the sun is shinin` or the sky is cryin`.
Then there are the lyrical voices of the blues, chief among them the inimitable Lightnin` Hopkins and Sonny Boy Williamson. Buddy Guy & B.B. King are contemporary masters of both guitar and vocal blues, while someone like Jimmy Reed straddled an area between blues and r`n`b. Blind Willie McTell is a glorious one-off, as is Skip James, or a unique belter such as Bessie Smith, or a `blues shouter` like Jimmy Witherspoon or Jimmy Rushing.
Then there are the folk-blues popularisers, among their number Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly - and this man, the irepressible Big Bill Broonzy, born William Lee Conley Broonzy in the last decade of the 19th century, died in 1958 in his sixties and with many sides recorded to testify to his almost unequalled importance in the history of acoustic blues.
Bill was a fine guitarist, a songwriter of note, and a wonderfully dynamic, warm, occasionally wanton singer who at times - when he sings high - can even remind you of Nina Simone! Don`t believe me? Have a listen...
Here, on this tremendous two-and-a-half-hour, two-disc collection of four of the man`s late 40s/early 50s LPs, are forty-five great tracks, possessing a variety and versatility which place Broonzy in the front rank of folk blues singers. It feels like he`s singing in your front room, particularly on the first album `Big Bill`s Blues`, with Bill`s amusingly informal song introductions, a song like Trouble in Mind jostling with See See Rider and Swing Low Sweet Chariot, along with a storming wailing blues called Martha.
Thankfully, the intros are eschewed on the other records represented here, leaving Broonzy to entertain the listener with a typically eclectic selection of blues numbers and others, sometimes with minimal band backing, but more often alone, simply Big Bill and his eloquent guitar. But try track 19 on CD2, You Changed, with full band backing, including sax - it`s terrific.
I can`t imagine a better or more well assembled introduction to this great, genial ambassador of blues in all its forms, sometimes easing towards jazz, at other moments exuding a pure blues sensibility.
It seems Big Bill Broonzy did it all. And it`s all here, on this embarrassment of riches. It`s all good!
on 28 May 2012
Seen what's on here? Some plonker is advertising a USED copy of this Avid set for more money than the £6 quoted here-which is the same in HMV.
As the original albums would have been about £1.50 (£ 1.10 shillings in pre decimal money) the cost is now around the same.
This is the music which introduced the U K to the Blues and was an influence on Lonnie Donegan.These were actually made as albums.
At the time music like this was called Negro folk and along with Josh White began to appear later on budget labels like MFP,Saga & Society and was a bigger deal in thwe UK where Broonzy toured.Paul Robeson was blacklisted for his Communist beliefs and relocated to Britain where he found a ready audience and eventually a listing in Classical catalogs
In music racial prejudice doesn't exist and even though Broonzy suffered through it in the 40s and 50s he simply shrugged it off when a white restaurant owner refused to serve him-a situation which ended only with the rise of Black Power.
Broonzy,like Paul Robeson,was born the son of slaves his mother living to 102 and his uncle to 104