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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Charley Patton: Complete Recordings Vol. 3


1) Some Of These Days I'll Be Gone; 2) Elder Green Blues; 3) Jim Lee, Pt. 1; 4) Jim Lee, Pt. 2; 5) Mean Black Cat Blues; 6) Jesus Is A-Dying (Bed Maker); 7) Elder Green Blues (take 2); 8) When Your Way Gets Dark; 9) Some Of These Days I'll Be Gone (take 2); 10) Heart Like Railwood Steel; 11) Circle Round The Moon; 12) You're Gonna Need Somebody When You Die; 13) Be True, Be True Blues; 14) Farrell Blues; 15) Tell Me Man Blues; 16) Come Back Corrina.

The third disc of the set essentially covers the second half of the extensive October 1929 sessions, but does not contain as many highlights. Patton's tracks here are the same volatile mix of blues, pop, gospel, folk, and country — pure blues forming a minority, in fact, as the disc opens with a lively and sentimental pop tune (ʻSome Of These Days I'll Be Goneʼ), the kind that always sounds more authentic and heart-tugging when sung in Patton's grizzly tone than in crooner mode (by the way, how often do people acknowledge Patton's influence on Tom Waits? it must have been a more direct one than simply Patton influencing Howlin' Wolf and Wolf influencing Waits). The two takes captured here are practically identical (except that the officially released second one is in better sonic shape), but the second one is just a tad faster and more danceable, so I sup­pose the good people at Paramount were really craving for some «commercialism» here.

Of the more curious tracks, the cover of ʻJesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bedʼ is worth noting, with Patton playing slide and wailing in the same style as Blind Willie Johnson, although, gran­ted, neither his slide playing skills nor even his earthy voice is a proper match for Blind Willie's gifts when they are fully activated (actually, he sounds a little too rushed and uninvolved singing this stuff — almost as if it did not agree too well with him, yet for some reason he found himself obli­gated to record Blind Willie's material. Maybe Paramount wanted to use him as their chief com­petitive asset against Columbia; I really have no idea). There's also ʻYou're Gonna Need Some­body When You Dieʼ, which he recorded before Blind Willie cut it as ʻYou're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bondʼ a year later — of course, all these tunes and words were pretty much dangling in the air at the time, belonging to nobody in particular, but it is still interesting, when possible, to go back and trace their relative trajectories.

The last four songs on the disc are not credited to Patton at all, but he is probably playing guitar to the fiddle of Henry Sims, who also sings lead vocals (and, vice versa, Sims is contributing his own fiddle parts to several of Patton's songs). They're nothing special, but there's... uh... one of the earliest version of ʻCorrine, Corrinaʼ here, though you might miss it if you have not paid attention to the printed titles because Henry has a nasty habit of mooing his words instead of sin­ging them. Anyway, don't shoot the fiddle player and it's always pleasant to have a bit of histo­rical context — this "Charlie Patton and Friends" thing should not bother you in the least.

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