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Monday, April 23, 2012

Blind Boy Fuller: Complete Recorded Works Vol. 3 (1937)


1) Put You Back In The Jail; 2) Walking And Looking Blues; 3) Bulldog Blues; 4) Where My Woman Usta Lay; 5) Working Man Blues; 6) Weeping Willow; 7) Corrine, What Make You Treat Me So; 8) Stealing Bo-Hog; 9) Worried And Evil Man Blues; 10) Bulldog Blues; 11) Break Of Day Blues; 12) Oh Zee Zas Rag; 13) Throw Your Ya Yas Back In Jail; 14) Snake Woman Blues; 15) Mojo Hidin' Woman; 16) Steel Hearted Woman; 17) Ain't No Gettin' Along; 18) Careless Love; 19) New Louise, Louise Blues; 20) Mistreater, You're Going To Be Sorry; 21) Bye Bye Baby Blues; 22) Looking For My Woman No. 2.

Man, was Blind Boy Fuller ever in demand in 1937! This third disc in the series only barely ma­nages to cover his output recorded from July 12 and ending on December 15 that year — starting just as the infamous recession of 1937 began rolling in and cutting down jobs, so that the title of the first song on here, ʽPut You Back In The Jailʼ, looks a little too close for comfort. And yet, ap­parently Fuller's singles were still selling like hotcakes, despite sounding not a wee bit different from what he'd already put out. (ʽPut You Back In The Jailʼ, while we're on the subject, was al­most immediately re-recorded as ʽThrow Your Ya Yas Back In Jailʼ).

The only peculiarity of these sessions is that the three last tracks were recorded with legendary harmonica player Sonny Terry (who had already played with Fuller earlier in a blues trio), giving the man a chance to «reinvent» three older tunes in a flashier way than usual. Unfortunately, Ter­ry is given very little space to shine – two very brief solos and some rhythm-accompanying lead lines that are rather poorly captured by the mikes. Apparently, it had to be demonstrated very cle­arly just who was the boss in the studio.

Other than that, minor ear-catching highlights include ʽOh Zee Zas Ragʼ (a new bit of fast rag­time, and it does not seem to have the exact same melody as ʽRag Mama Ragʼ!); and the dirgey mood of ʽWeeping Willowʼ, for which he also seems to have mastered a new chord or two (and then, just a few months later, duly re-recorded it as ʽAin't No Gettin' Alongʼ — and Blind Boy Fuller was actually so lazy, unlike most other re-recorders, he didn't even bother writing new ly­rics for the songs he re-recorded: he just took out a different line to use as the new title). There is also a very good take on the traditional standard ʽCareless Loveʼ, one of the «bluesiest» ones du­ring that era (Lonnie Johnson, despite being a far superior player to Fuller, did that one almost in crooner mode; and Bessie is beyond competition in any case); and I suppose that Big Bill Broon­zy recorded ʽLouise, Louise Bluesʼ somewhat earlier than Blind Boy (otherwise, why slap on a ʽNewʼ subtitle?), but I like Blind Boy's purely acoustic version much better than Big Bill's, who recorded it over one of his «hide-behind-the-piano» periods. Crisp, clean, sharp, as perfect as simple, unassuming 12-bar blues ever gets. Well, supposedly 1937 was a good year for somebody other than Uncle Joe over in Soviet Russia.

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