Texas Alexander: Complete Recordings in Chronological Order, Volume 1 (1927–1928)

Rating: 7.8/10
Rated as: Collection
Compilation Status: Essential
Released: 1995
Recorded: 1927–1928
Specific Genre: Acoustic Texas Blues
Main Genres: Acoustic Blues, Blues
Undertones: Work Songs, Field Holler
Label: Document Records

1 Range in My Kitchen Blues 2 Long Lonesome Day Blues 3 Corn-Bread Blues 4 Section Gang Blues 5 Levee Camp Moan Blues 6 Mama, I Heard You Brought It Right Back Home 7 Farm Hand Blues 8 Evil Women Blues 9 Sabine River Blues 10 Death Bed Blues 11 Yellow Girl Blues 12 West Texas Blues 13 Bantam Rooster Blues (Take A) 14 Bantam Rooster Blues (Take B) 15 Deep Blue Sea Blues 16 No More Women Blues 17 Don’t You Wish Your Baby Was Built Up Like Mine? 18 Bell Cow Blues 19 Sittin‘ on a Log 20 Mama’s Bad Luck Child 21 Boe Hog Blues 22 Work Ox Blues 23 The Risin‘ Sun

Don’t get mad at me, woman, because I stays by myself

With a soaring holler, a vocal presence that is imposing even when he seems to murmur rather than belt something, blind Alger „Texas“ Alexander is one of the more fascinating obscure blues masters. He was so early in the game, in fact, that these recordings hardly can contain the field-holler and work song environment he was dragged from into the studios. Alexander barely follows predictable patterns in his singing, skipping bars and always preferring winding, tempo-shifting delivery of his stanzas and interjections over what the instrumentalists are anticipating – often, he just resorts to powerful, vibrating humming to end a song or glide through the mid-section.

This makes the guitar-accompanied songs here much more enjoyable, as the always superior Lonnie Johnson can work around Alexander’s rhythmic idiosyncrasies to a much better degree (using free form lick clusters, really, especially on „Levee Camp Moan Blues“) than pianist Eddie Heywood, who mostly sticks to vaudevillian barrelhouse patterns on track A6–B1 (6–9). Texas Alexander presents some astonishingly moaning, soaring blues, and while these recordings are less polished and accomplished than the not unsimilar Blind Willie Johnson, as the first third of his complete recordings, this Document Records LP is just that: a document to the blues and its power.