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Monday, August 27, 2012

Bo Carter: Complete Recorded Works Vol. 4 (1936-1938)


1) It's Too Wet; 2) Dinner Blues; 3) Ain't Nobody Got It; 4) Cigarette Blues; 5) Pussy Cat Blues; 6) The Ins And Outs Of My Girl; 7) All Around Man (part 2); 8) Bo Carter's Advice; 9) Doubled Up In A Knot; 10) Worried G Blues; 11) Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me; 12) Don't Mash My Digger So Deep; 13) Flea On Me; 14) Got To Work Somewhere; 15) Sue Cow; 16) Shake 'Em On Down; 17) A Girl For Every Day Of The Week; 18) Trouble In Blues; 19) World In A Jug; 20) Who's Been Here; 21) Whiskey Blues; 22) Shoo That Chicken.

Vol. 4 is clearly an improvement over Vol. 3 — simple statistics shows that Bo is actively back to the world of innuendos and double entendres: even one lone title like ʽThe Ins And Outs Of My Girlʼ is enough to regain the honors, and that's not even mentioning the actual lyrics ("She got something that I really do love / It ain't in her sto­cking, and you know it's just above").

Musically, the 1936-38 sessions are very sparse: no harmonica or piano accompaniment, and Bo's own guitar skills were not exactly improving (although everything is perfectly listenable as usual). But lyrically, he was on such a roll that it only makes sense to turn this review into a set of mini-quotes. Say, from ʽCigarette Bluesʼ: "Just draw on my cigarette baby / Until you make my good ashes come". Or from ʽYour Biscuits Are Good Enough For Meʼ: "Some men don't care for bis­cuits / They like the doggone fat bun". From ʽAll Around Manʼ: "Now I ain't no milkman / I ain't no milkman's son / I can pull your titties till the milkman comes". Want some more? Well, think of this as the «free tour introduction».

Only a tiny handful of songs veer away from the carnal subject this time — of which only one number, ʽGot To Work Somewhereʼ, deserves special mention: it is Bo's first (I think) and most straightforward number that directly addresses Depression issues, and although he performs it the same «humble» way as he sings and plays everything else, it shouldn't pass by unnoticed: without an occasional excourse into tragedy of this kind, Bo's image of a «sexual clown» could have pas­sed for genuine identity rather than an entertaining act. But this here song gives us a guy in the same tur­moil and distress like everybody else at the time — "beneath this mask I am wearing a frown" indeed.

Of course, one frown is just enough: half a dozen more sides like this and the ef­fect would have been washed out with boredom. So it's a good thing that ʽGot To Workʼ is stuck here somewhere in the middle, and that the collection starts off with ʽIt's Too Wetʼ (what is too wet? Why, Bo's shirt is too wet — what did you think of?..) and ends with the equally playful ʽShoo That Chi­ckenʼ (because he interferes with "my loving at night"). Welcome back to the state of predictable reliability, Mr. Carter. The 1930s wouldn't have been what they were without you.

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