The point of this site is to collect the CDs and/or LPs you need to know and acquire in order to collect the entire available output of great blues performers in the leanest possible way. I started this list over at RateYourMusic, so look there for a more complete version (as of now).
The list is in chronological, not alphabetical order, priorising start of recording career over date of birth.
Note that this is a work in constant and continuous progress, there are far too many performers that could be on here for me to do this in any systematic or comprehensive way.
Note also that almost none of this is original research. I cross-reference professional and amateur discographies, I scout liner notes and label catalogues: I rely on second-hand information.
The list mostly busies itself with the great „pre-album“-era performers whose work is sometimes scattered and hard to cobble together, sometimes it’s easy. I mostly don’t bother with work done as „sidewoman/sideman“ – so the list does not contain any last recording that, say, Muddy Waters participated in, just his output as a recording artist.
These lists tend to start out easy, as there was plenty of time to collect and compile most of the historically important early blues performers in a complete and sensible fashion. But never forget: A discography is but a list made by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Because believe me, it does get tedious.
Lived 1883–1946, recorded 1920–1942.
„The earliest surviving commercial recordings of black roots music were made by Okeh Records supervisor Fred Hagar (sometimes spelled Hager) and Ralph Peer, his assistant at the time, who recorded Mamie Smith in 1920. Smith was neither a blues specialist nor a southerner. She was a stage singer from Ohio, and the impetus to record her came from black songwriter Perry Bradford, who believed a female vocalist could sell records – and Bradford tunes – to both northern blacks and southern whites.“(Epperson, Bruce: More Important Than the Music. A History of Jazz Discography. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press 2013, 91)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1: 1920-1921 (Document DOCD-5357)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2: 1921-1922 (Document DOCD-5358)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3: 1922-1923 (Document DOCD-5359)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4: 1923-1942 (Document DOCD-5360)
Mamie Smith’s complete recordings
Lived 1894–1970, recorded 1920–1932, 1961–62.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Vol. 1 (1920-1922) (Document DOCD-5419)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol.2 (1922-1923) (Document DOCD-5420)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1923-1932) (Document DOCD-5421)
Lucille Hegamin Volume 4: Alternative Takes & Remaining Titles (1920-1926) (Document DOCD-1011)
For her rare 1960s appearances, check the respective albums, one under ALBERTA HUNTER and one under VICTORIA SPIVEY
Lucille Hegamin’s complete recordings
Lived 1893 or 1898–1965, recorded 1921–1947
This one is a bit more detailed. I usually don’t track sideman-work for these entries, but with Williams, things are different. He was so important as a composer, leader, sideman and co-credited artist/performer that the available discographies AND compilations collect his work that was credited to another recording artist. I mostly used this discography as a reference: http://www.harlem-fuss.com…s_clarence.pdf
I found some inconsistencies, but don’t be alarmed: If anything, there’s more stuff on the list below, not less.
Also, if you focus only on the entire Williams-„Chronogical Classics Series“, you won’t have every little bit, but the overwhelming part of his issued recordings. But since that series is about to become a bit elusive itself, it is probably not a more viable strategy than anything else.
First, you need to get the complete recordings of the following other blues/jazz artists. I’m not going to point out whether Williams plays on one, two or four tracks etc. on these. I mean, you could just get the compilations only collecting Williams stuff, but come on:
Daisy Martin: Daisy Martin & Ozie McPherson: Complete Recorded Works (1921-1926) in Chronological Order (DOCD-5522) (Williams is suspected to play on some tracks)
Eva Taylor aka Irene Gibbons: In Chronological Order Volume 1 (c. September 1922 to c. 5 September 1923) (DOCD-5408), In Chronological Order Vol.2 (1923-1927) (DOCD-5409), In Chronological Order Vol.3 (1928-1932) (DOCD-5410), Edison Laterals 4 (album credited to Eva Taylor (Edison Lateral 4)
Bessie Smith: The Complete Recordings Vol. 1, The Complete Recordings Vol. 4 (C2K 52838)
Sara Martin: In Chronological Order, vol. 1 (1922-1923) (DOCD-5395) (Williams plays on some tracks), In Chronological Order, Volume 2 (1923-1924) (DOCD-5396), In Chronological Order, Volume 3 (1924-1925) (DOCD 5397), In Chronological Order, Volume 4 (1925-1928) (DOCD-5398)
Mamie Smith: Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3: 1922-1923 (DOCD-5359)
Margaret Johnson: Complete Recorded Works (1923-27) (DOCD-5436)
Virginia Liston: Complete Recorded Works in Chronogical Order, Volume 1: 1923-1924 (DOCD 5446) (possibly on two tracks), Virginia Liston Volume 2 (1924 – 1926) (DOCD-5447)
Sippie Wallace: Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1923-1925) (DOCD-5399), Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1925-1945) (DOCD-5400)
Laura Smith: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 1 (1924-1927) (DOCD-5429)
Butterbeans and Susie: Volume 1 1924-1925 (DOCD-5544)
Lucille Hegamin: Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1923-1932) (DOCD-5421)
James P. Johnson: 1928-1938 (Chronogical Classics 671) but this is already on Frog DGF 17 (see below) which you need anyway.
Victoria Spivey: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 2 (DOCD-5317)
Lizzie Miles: Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928-39) (DOCD-5460)
King Oliver: for example 1926 – 1928 (Chronogical Classics 618), but preferably „Farewell Blues“ – King Oliver – Vocalion & Brunswick Recordings, Volume 2 (Frog DGF 35) (4 tracks with Clarence Williams)
Fats Waller: The Complete Recorded Works Volume 1: 1922-1929 – Messin‘ Around With the Blues (JSP CD 927) (1 additional alternate take)
Then, you need to do some clean-up and collect scattered tracks:
Document Records, clean up compilations:
Female Blues, The Remaining Titles (1921–1928) (2 tracks by Laura Smith) (DOCD-1005)
Clarence Williams & The Blues Singers Vol 1 1923–1928 (DOCD-5375)
Clarence Williams & The Blues Singers Vol 2 1927 – 1932 (DOCD-5376)
Original Bessie Brown / Liza Brown 1925–1929 (DOCD-5456)
Vocal Duets 1924 – 1931 (DOCD-5526, tracks by Charles & Effie Tyus)
„Too Late, Too Late“ More Newly Discovered Titles, Alternate Takes & Supplements, Volume 9 (1922-1945) (track by Charles & Effie Tyus, credited to Horace George) (DOCD-5590)
Classic Blues Jazz & Vaudeville Singers Vol 4 1921 – 1928 (DOCD-5627)
And here starts the list of Williams as a band leader:
Chronogical Classics Series, necessary issues (and yes, they spell it „chronogical“):
The Chronogical Classics: Clarence Williams 1921 – 1924 (Chronogical Classics 679)
The Chronogical Classics: Clarence Williams 1924 – 1926 (Chronogical Classics 695)
The Chronogical Classics: Clarence Williams 1926 – 1927 (Chronological Classics 718)
The Chronogical Classics: Clarence Williams 1927 (Chronogical Classics 736)
The Chronogical Classics: Clarence Williams 1927 – 1928 (Chronogical Classics 752)
The Chronogical Classics: Clarence Williams 1928 – 1929 (Chronogical Classics 771)
The Chronogical Classics: Clarence Williams 1929 – 1930 (Chronogical Classics 810)
The Chronogical Classics: Clarence Williams 1930 – 1931 (Chronogical Classics 832)
The Chronogical Classics: Clarence Williams 1937 – 1941 (Chronogical Classics 953)
Frog Series, necessary issues:
„Whoop It Up“ – Clarence Williams, The Columbia Recordings, Volume 2 (Frog DGF 17)
„Shake ‚Em Up“ – Clarence Williams 1927–1929, The Vocalion, Brunswick, Victor, Paramount & Grey Gull Recordings (Frog DGF 37)
Clarence Williams‘ QRS Recordings, Volume 1 (Frog DGF 48)
Clarence Williams‘ QRS Recordings, Volume 2 (Frog DGF 49)
„Thriller Blues“ – Clarence Williams 1930–1941 (Frog DGF 57)
Washboard Bands 1926-1929: „Gimme Blues“ (Frog DGF 75)
Rare & Hot Black Bands 1923-1930: Stop & Listen! (Frog DGF 79)
Collector’s Classics Series, necessary issue:
The Clarence Williams Collection Vol. 1, 1927-28 (Collector’s Classics COCD-19)
The Clarence Williams Collection, Volume 3, 1929-1930 (Collector’s Classics COCD-29) (just two additional alternate takes, but hey)
Clarence Williams And His Orchestra – Vol. 1, 1933-1934 (Timeless CBC 1-056)
Clarence Williams And His Orchestra – Vol. 2 1933-1937 (Timeless CBC 1-057)
Get On Board, Li’l Chillun (1937, Circle CCD-4)
LP-Abbreviations I couldn’t identify:
JU 49 (4 tracks from 1947)
Ed ZM-473202 (LP) (1 alternate take „Moanin‘ Low“ from 1929)
If you got all the stuff, these nice collections collecting Williams as leader/sideman in one place are now superfluous to you. All their stuff is on Chronogical Classics 679, 695 and 718, which you need anyway to fill other gaps:
„Dreaming the Hours Away“ – Clarence Williams, The Columbia Recordings (Frog DGF 14)
Clarence Williams – „Senegalese Stomp“ (Frog DGF 81)
The 1923-1931 Recordings – The Complete Sidney Bechet & Louis Armstrong Sessions (EPM 982112) (only covers 1923–1926)
Clarence Williams’ complete recordings
Lived ca. 1895–ca. 1938, recorded 1921–1926.
Stafford recorded 14 sides, all of which are here (plus some other obscure singers from the era):
Female Blues Singers Volume 13: R/S (1921–1931) (DOCD-5517)
You can also get them here:
Ain’t Gonna Settle Down: The Pioneering Blues of Mary Stafford and Edith Wilson.
This double-CD also features all of →Edith Wilson’s works, but I would not recommend it – Wilson’s work has been issued on three Document-CDs which give you a lot more additional material (for example all sides of → Lena Wilson and → John Dunn’s orchestra) – see „Edith Wilson“ for that.
Mary Stafford’s complete recordings
Lived 1895–1984, recorded 1921–1946, 1961, 1977–1983.
This Document series collects her early work:
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1921-1923) (DOCD-5422)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1923-24) (DOCD-5423)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1924-27) (DOCD-5424)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1927-46) (DOCD-5425)
Alberta Hunter, Volume 5: The Alternate Takes (1921-1924) (DOCD-1006, this is a separately issued disc by document containing alternate takes)
You will find three more songs on the Document clean-up compilations Too Late, Too Late Blues, Vol. 7 (DOCD-5525) and Female Blues: Remaining Titles 1922-1927 (JPCD-1526-2).
There are three more songs from that period that never made it on any LP/CD: the single Midnight Blues / I Got a Mind to Ramble (Regal 3252) and the B-side of Wasn’t It Nice / I Didn’t Come to Steal Nobody’s Man (Okeh 8393). Thanks to fixbutte for his input.
This seems to be a straight cabaret gig she did in 1934 (not included in the above series):
The Legendary Alberta Hunter: The London Sessions – 1934 (DRG CDSL 5195)
These contain some 1961 recordings she made during her musical „retirement“:
Songs We Taught Your Mother (OBC CD-520-2, with LUCILLE HEGAMIN and VICTORIA SPIVEY)
Chicago: The Living Legends (Riverside RLP 9418)
And these are her comeback albums:
Remember My Name (1978, Columbia JS 35553)
Amtrak Blues (1980, Columbia 36430)
Downhearted Blues: Live at the Cookery (2001, rec. 1977, Varèse Sarabande 302 066 247 2)
The Glory of Alberta Hunter (1982, Columbia FC 37691)
Look for the Silver Lining (1983, Columbia PC 38970)
And, unless I’ve missed some guest appearances and such, these are
Alberta Hunter’s complete recordings
Lived 1896–1980, recorded 1921–1976(?)
Johnny Dunn & Edith Wilson: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 1 1921 – 1922 (Document JPCD-1522-2, see JOHNNY DUNN)
Johnny Dunn & Edith Wilson: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 2 1922 – 1928 (Document JPCD-1523-2, see JOHNNY DUNN)
Edith & Lena Wilson Complete Recorded Works, Volume 2 1924–1931 (Document DOCD-5451, see LENA WILSON)
Edith Wilson in Paris – The 1974 Show (Wolverine 7)
He May Be Your Man… But He Comes to See Me Sometime! (Delmark DS-637, 1976 revival album)
You can get only her early SOLO work of the first three Document CDs mentioned here on Ain’t Gonna Settle Down: The Pioneering Blues of Mary Stafford and Edith Wilson (Archeophone ARCH 6006), but you’ll miss out on all the other stuff that’s on the Document CDs
And there is some work as a guest vocalist, but otherwise
Edith Wilson’s complete recordings
Lived 1897–1937, recorded 1921–1928.
This guy is a vaudeville blues and hot jazz performer, I put him on here because he did record with some female vaudeville blues performers, like Edith Wilson or Mamie Smith. All of his work is already covered in the entry above for Edith Wilson, it’s just here for reference.
Johnny Dunn & Edith Wilson: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 1 1921 – 1922 (Document JPCD-1522-2, with Edith Wilson)
Johnny Dunn & Edith Wilson: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 2 1922 – 1928 ( (Document JPCD-1523-2, with Edith Wilson)
These also collect a large part of EDITH WILSON’s solo output, so see under her name for further reference.
Johnny Dunn’s complete recordings
Lived unknown–ca. 1925, recorded 1921–1923
Daisy Martin & Ozie McPherson: Complete Recorded Works (1921-1926) in Chronological Order (DOCD-5522)
Too Late, Too Late Vol. 13 (1921-1940) – More Newly Discovered Titles, Supplements & Alternative Takes (DOCD-5660)
Daisy Martin’s complete recordings
Lived 1884–1955, recorded 1922–1929
In Chronological Order, vol. 1 (1922-1923) (DOCD-5395)
In Chronological Order, Volume 2 (1923-1924) (DOCD-5396)
In Chronological Order, Volume 3 (1924-1925) (DOCD-5397)
In Chronological Order, Volume 4 (1925-1928) (DOCD-5398)
Vocal Blues & Jazz Vol 2 1921 – 1938, Alternative takes & remaining titles (DOCD-1012, 2 tracks)
appears on Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1: 1923-1927 (DOCD 5112) by Sylvester Weaver and Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Vol. 1, 1924-1927 (DOCD-5279) by Bobby Leecan & Robert Cooksey.
Sara Martin’s complete recordings
Lived 1895–1977, recorded 1922–1941, 196X–1976.
In Chronological Order Volume 1 (c. September 1922 to c. 5 September 1923) (DOCD-5408)
In Chronological Order Vol.2 (1923-1927) (DOCD-5409)
In Chronological Order Vol.3 (1928-1932) (DOCD-5410)
The recordings after 1933 until 1941 are credited to her husband →CLARENCE WILLIAMS, so see there
and then get →SARA MARTIN’s discography (some duets)
For her 1960s/70s reappearance, compare these four albums that I could find, but I didn’t see any professional discographical information on this:
Eva Taylor And Her Anglo-American Boy-Friends (rec 1967, Audubon, AAN, UK)
Eva Taylor And Her „Sweet Peruna“ In „Vognporten“ (rec 1974, Vognport, Denmark, LP 101)
The Legendary Eva Taylor with Maggie’s Blue Five (rec 1976, Kenneth Records 2042, Sweden)
Live At The Pawnshop (rec 1976, Opus 3 Records CD 22071, Sweden)
Eva Taylor’s complete recordings
Lived ca. 1898–1939, recorded 1922–1924, 1930
Edith and Lena Wilson – Complete Recorded Works Volume 2 (1924 – 1931) (Document DOCD-5451, with Edith Wilson, look there for further reference)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order Volume 1 (1922-1924 ) (Document DOCD-5443)
Female Blues 1921–1928 (Document DOCD-1005, V/A-comp, 2 tracks)
Classic Blues, Jazz & Vaudeville Singers Vol 2 1920–1926 (Document DOCD-5602, V/A-comp, 1 track)
Classic Blues Jazz & Vaudeville Singers Vol 4 1921–1928 (Document DOCD-5627, V/A-comp, 1 track)
She did guest vocals on several vaudeville and hot jazz groups, but this here is her output as a frontlady.
Lena Wilson’s complete recordings
Lived 1895–1943, recorded 1922–25, 1938–39.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 1, 1922–1924 (DOCD-5332)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 2 1925–1939 (DOCD-5333)
Trixie Smith’s complete recordings
Lived 1886–1939, recorded 1923–1928.
Mother of the Blues (5 CDs, 111 tracks, JSP Records JSP7793)
Ma Rainey’s complete recordings
Lived ca.1890–1932, recorded 1923–1926
Complete Recorded Works in Chronogical Order, Volume 1: 1923-1924 (DOCD-5446)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Oder, Volume 2: 1924–1926 (with all recordings by Lavinia Turner, DOCD-5447)
Virginia Liston’s complete recordings
Born between 1891–1894, death date unknown, recorded 1923–1928
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 1 (1923-1927) (DOCD-5372 )
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order Volume 2, 1927-1928 / Irene Scruggs: The Remaining Titles 1926–1930 (DOCD-5373)
Martha Copeland’s complete recordings
Lived 1894–unknown, recorded 1923–1929.
Complete Recorded Works, Vol.1 (1923-1925) (DOCD-5348)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol.2 (May 1925-June 1926) (DOCD-5349, with all of Gladys Bentley’s records)
Maggie Jones’s complete recordings
Lived 1894–1937, recorded 1923–1933.
There’s at least three ways to go about this.
The recommended way to get all of Bessie Smith is the two magnificent JSP-box sets, with her 160 songs, some alternate takes, film snippets and interviews by other people:
Queen of the Blues: Volume 1 (4 CDs, JSP 929)
Empress of the Blues: Volume 2 (1926 – 1933) (4 CDs, JSP 930)
Then there’s this series by Columbia / Legacy of double-discs, which apparently has really good liner notes and features an interview with her niece on the last disc:
The Complete Recordings Vol. 1 (Columbia /Legacy C2K 47091)
The Complete Recordings Vol. 2 (Columbia / Legacy C2K 47471)
The Complete Recordings Vol. 3 (Columbia / Legacy 472189 2)
The Complete Recordings Vol. 4 (Columbia / Legacy C2K 52838)
The Complete Recordings Vol. 5 (Columbia / Legacy C2K 57546)
Frog Records also issued an 8-volume series of her complete records, apparently with very good sound quality:
Complete Recordings Volume 1 (Frog DGF40)
Complete Recordings, Volume 2 (Frog DGF41)
Complete Recordings, Volume 3 (Frog DGF42)
Bessie Smith Volume 4 (Frog DGF43)
Bessie Smith Volume 5 (Frog DGF44)
Bessie Smith Volume 6 (Frog DGF45)
Bessie Smith Volume 7 (Frog DGF46)
Bessie Smith Volume 8 (Frog DGF47)
Either way, each of these three series represent, well,
Bessie Smith’s complete recordings
Lived 1894–1935, recorded 1923–1932.
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1923-1924) (DOCD-5364)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1924) (DOCD-5365)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1925) (DOCD-5366)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1926-1927) (DOCD-5367)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5 (1927-1929) (DOCD-5368)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 6 (1930-1932) (DOCD-5369)
Clara Smith’s complete recordings
Lived 1895–1925, recorded 1923.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 1 (1923) (DOCD-5428)
Edna Hicks, Hazel Meyers, Laura Smith: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 2. 1923–1927 (DOCD-5431)
Edna Hicks’s complete recordings
Lived 1896/97–1960, recorded 1923–1927.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1: 1923-1927 (DOCD-5112)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 2: 31 August to November 1927 (DOCD-5113)
Sylvester Weaver’s complete recordings
Lived 1898–1986, recorded 1923–1929, 1945, 1958, 1966–1967, and then randomly until 1986.
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1923-1925) (DOCD-5399)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1925-1945) (DOCD-5400)
The Chronogical Classics: Albert Ammons 1939 – 1946 by Albert Ammons (Chronogical Classics 927, 1945, 2 tracks with Sippie Wallace)
Then there are two 1945-sides that are known through lists but are lost, containing „Shorty George“/“She’s a Mighty Fine Woman“ (Mercury 2005).
Things remain complicated, as her next known vocal work is from 1958 for the Fine Art label and Bango label, but is hard to find. I used this website to identify the next songs that are also mentioned in professional discographies: https://archive.org/stream/recordresearch76/76_djvu.txt
These songs seem to be credited to other main artists, with Sippie Wallace as an (aurally) confirmed performer – but they’re elusive. The singles exist, but they apparently have not been issued on LP/CD. I will list the titles, but bear in mind that they’re credited to other people (check the website mentioned above):
„Junior, My Little Parakeet“
„Mother Nature Is the Cause of It All“
„Caught in the Web of Sin“
„Loving You as I Loved You“ (Fine Art)
Here I Go Where the Morning Glories Grow“
„Loving You as I Loved You“ (Bango, 1962)
Spivey’s Blues Parade (Spivey LP 1012, 1962, V/A, 1 track, see –> VICTORIA SPIVEY)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 (Hip-O CD 1003, 1966, V/A, 1 track)
American Folk Blues Festival ’66 (AMIGA 82876 63060 2, 1966, V/A, 1 track)
Up the Country ! (Scout Sc-3, 1966, V/A, 2 tracks)
That Red Hot Mama (Storyville 6.23705 AG, Blues Roots series Vol. 6, contains entire 1967-Sings the Blues [Storyville 198] and two additional tracks from that 1966 session). There’s also a version called „Woman Be Wise“ shuffling around, but be aware that these three titles (Sings the Blues, That Red Hot Mama, Woman Be Wise) refer to the same 1966 session.
Mighty Tight Woman (Mountain Railroad 52672, different issues, 1967 session, credited to the JIM KWESKIN AND THE JUG BAND WITH SIPPIE WALLACE AND OTIS SPANN).
And since her work after 1967 consists of scattered guest appearances, live festival concerts and whatnot, I can’t really help you with this. There are two more known albums from her time in Germany:
Axel Zwingenberger & The Friends of Boogie Vol.1 by Axel Zwingenberger (Vagabond VRCD 8.84002, 1983 – she is actually credited on here, RYM isn’t up to snuff yet)
Axel Zwingenberger & The Friends of Boogie Vol.3 (An Evening With Sippie Wallace) by Axel Zwingenberger (Vagabond VRLP 8.86006, 1986 – same here)
Including these two and up until 1967, these are
Sippie Wallace’s complete recordings
Living dates unknown, recorded 1923–1927.
Complete Recorded Works (1923-27) (DOCD-5436)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Vol. 1, 1924-1927 (DOCD-5279 by Bobby Leecan & Robert Cooksey, 3 tracks)
Margaret Johnson’s complete recordings
Living dates unknown, recorded 1923–1927.
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1923-24) (DOCD-5430)
Edna Hicks, Hazel Meyers, Laura Smith: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 2. 1923–1927 (DOCD-5431) → see under EDNA HICKS
Classic Blues, Jazz & Vaudeville Singers Vol 2 1920 – 1926 (DOCD-5602, clean-up, 1 alternate track by Meyers)
Hazel Meyers’ complete recordings
Lived 1882–1932, recorded 1924–1927.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 1 (1924-1927) (DOCD-5429)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 2 (1923-27) (DOCD-5431) → see under EDNA HICKS
Too Late, Too Late: Vol 6 1924–1946 (DOCD-5461)
There appear to be 3 additional tracks she probably recorded under the pseudonym LAURA BRYANT (cf. fixbutte’s comment). These tracks can be found on the Document release by CLARENCE WILLIAMS & THE BLUES SINGERS:
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1927-1932) (DOCD-5376) → see under CLARENCE WILLIAMS
Note that the „Chronological Classics“ series of Williams‘ works does not include these female-vocal-led tracks, as far as I can tell. Thanks to fixbutte for the input!
Laura Smith’s complete recordings
Papa Charlie Jackson
Lived 1887–1938, recorded 1924–1934.
After the three-CD Document series, an additional 12 tracks surfaced, which Document put on two further of their „Too Late, Too Late“-clean up compilations.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1: 1924 to February 1926 (DOCD-5087)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1926-1928) (DOCD-5088)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928-1934) (DOCD-5089)
The JSP-set has all of the tracks in one place and uses the same chronology as Document – probably they even took the mastering from Document (I don’t want to slander, but this has been a known practice by JSP in several cases).
Still, as the box has all the stuff in one place and fills the last CD with the complete works of Bo Weavil Jackson (a total of just 13 tracks), the JSP-box again is the definite pick:
Why Do You Moan When You Can Shake That Thing? (JSP 77184, 4CDs, 103 tracks)
Papa Charlie Jackson’s complete recordings in one place, plus BO WEAVIL JACKSON’S s entire catalogue.
Butterbeans and Susie
Recorded 1924–1930, 1960.
Volume 1 1924-1925 (DOCD-5544)
Butterbeans & Susie Vol 2 1926–1927 (DOCD-5545)
Elevator Papa, Switchboard Mama (JSP CD 329)
Butterbeans & Susie (GHB Records BCD-135, 1960 album)
„Too Late, Too Late“ More Newly Discovered Titles, Alternate Takes & Supplements, Volume 9 (1922-1945) (DOCD-5590, V/A, 2 tracks)
Classic Blues & Vaudeville Singers: Vol. 5 (1922 – 1930) (DOCD-5654, V/A, 1 track)
Butterbeans and Susie’s complete recordings
Blind Lemon Jefferson
Lived 1893–1929, recorded 1925–1929.
Classic Sides (JSP 7706, 4 CDs, 94 tracks)
I read somewhere that this or that alternate take is missing on here but can’t figure out which. Other than that…
Blind Lemon Jefferson’s complete recordings
Lived 1899–1970, recorded 1925–1967.
Document series, 1925–1947 (10 CDs)
Complete Recorded Works 1925-1932 in Chronological Order: Vol. 1 (4 November 1925 to 13 August 1926) (DOCD-5063)
Complete Recorded Works (1925-1932), Vol. 2: 1926-1927 (DOCD-5064)
Complete Recorded Works (1925-1932), Vol. 3: 1927-1928 (DOCD-5065)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 4 (Mar 1928 – May 1929) (DOCD-5066)
Complete Recorded Works (1925-1932), Vol. 5: 1929-1930 (DOCD-5067)
Complete Recorded Works (1925-1932), Vol. 6: 1930-1931 (DOCD-5068)
Complete Recorded Works (1925-1932), Vol. 7: 1931-1932 (DOCD-5069)
Didn’t record between 1932 and 1937.
Complete 1937 to June 1947 Recordings, Vol. 1: 1937-1940 (BDCD-6024)
Complete 1937 to June 1947 Recordings, Vol. 2: 1940-1942 (BDCD-6025)
Complete 1937 to June 1947 Recordings in Chronological Order Volume 3: 14 December 1944 to 2 June 1947 (BDCD-6026)
This Document series has been criticized of having less than optimal mastering, but as usual, it’s the best historical collection
Classics Records series:
The chronological Lonnie Johnson: 1947–1948 (Classics 5189)
The chronological Lonnie Johnson: 1948–1949 (Classics 5177)
The chronological Lonnie Johnson: 1949–1952 (Classics 5153)
Didn’t record between 1952 and 1959, except 8 sides in 1953 or 1956 for the super-obscure Rama label, whose original master recordings have been lost. The only compilation actually bothering to collect all of these four singles is this V/A-compilation, not listed on RYM:
Blues Complete (1999, on West Side Records WESM-531)
Revival albums from 1960 onwards:
Four Classic Albums (Avid Roots AMSC 1207) contains Blues by Lonnie Johnson (Bluesville BVLP 1007, 1960), Idle Hours (Bluesville BVLP 1044, 1962, with Victoria Spivey), Blues & Ballads (Bluesville BVLP 1011, 1960) and Losing Game (Bluesville 1024, 1960).
Blues, Ballads and Jumpin‘ Jazz, Vol. 2 (Original Blues Classics / Prestige Bluesville OBCCD-570-2, 1960, same session as „Blues and Ballads“ sessions, posthumous)
There is another Spivey-album with Lonnie J as a sideman, Woman Blues!, but that one has exclusively Spivey-compositions, so see Victoria Spivey for that)
Another Night to Cry (Original Blues Classics OBCCD-550-2, 1963)
Portraits in Blues Vol. 6 (Storyville SLP 162, 1964 live set with Otis Spann)
Stompin‘ at the Penny With Jim McHarg’s Metro Stompers (Legacy CK 57829, 1965)
The Unsung Blues Legend: The Living Room Sessions (BLM-1001, 1965, session)
The Complete Folkways Recordings (Smithsonian Folkways SFW 40067, 1967, Smithsonian Folkways session)
Okay! As Lonnie J was not only a monumental figure of the blues, but also a hugely important sideman, there are numerous tracks by Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Texas Alexander and others not listed here, see the respective artist for reference. It probably makes sense to look into this JSP-CD, if you’re interested in the sideman aspect of Lonnie:
Playing with the Strings [JSP] (JSP CD 502)
There are also several DVD-performances from live performances during the early 1960s folk revival. I don’t list them here.
And thus, certainly of the most influential, most important, weirdest, and most cobbled together discographies of the blues. I present juuust about
Lonnie Johnson’s complete recordings…
Peg Leg Howell
Lived 1888–1966, recorded 1926–1928, 1964.
Complete Recordings in Chronological Order Vol. 1 (MBCD-2004)
Complete Recordings in Chronological Order Vol.2 (MBCD-2005)
and his revival-album:
The Legendary Peg Leg Howell (1964, Testament T-2204)
Peg Leg Howell’s complete recordings
Lived 1896–1934, recorded 1926–1932.
All the Published Sides (1926–1932) (JSP 7714, 5 CDs)
Since 1991, when Document issued a four volume series of Blind Blake recordings, a further 10 alternate takes have been released spread across another six (!) Document CDs. This JSP-reissue brings all this material together and is the definite pick.
Probably Blind Blake’s complete recordings
Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler)
Unknown living dates, recorded 1926.
There are three ways to go about this:
First, there is an old Matchbox-CD (a Document sublabel) with just his 13 recordings, Complete Recordings in Chronological Order (Matchbox MSE 203), but that is a bit meager by itself.
Then, there is a more interesting proper Document-CD: Backwoods Blues (1926-1935) (DOCD-5036), containing his recordings, but also those of otherwise elusive performers: Bobby Grant (2 songs), King Solomon Hill (6 songs) and Lane Hardin (2 songs). So this is more worthwhile.
But all of Bo Weavil Jackson’s recordings also appear on a box set, so see under PAPA CHARLIE JACKSON. But this way, you’ll miss out on the elusive performers above. And yet, you need the Papa Charlie Jackson set anyway. Alas! Decisions, decisions…
Bo Weavil Jackson’s complete recordings!
Lived 1874–1930(?), recorded 1927–1929.
This Document CD should do it – he’s a bit elusive.
Ragtime Texas: Complete Recorded Works 1927-1929 (DOCD-5665)
Henry Thomas’ complete recordings
Lived 1880–1954, recorded 1927–1929.
16 songs by Phillips survived. These are all of them with nice liner notes, and four additional tracks by obscure contemporaries Blind Mamie Forehand & A.C. Forehand. Yazoo presents all of this in one package, very nice:
The Key to the Kingdom (Yazoo 2073).
And since it’s such a small number and Phillips is really, really hard to pidgeon-hole (the falsetto? the probably self-made, nameless zither-like instrument? the gospel-blues with none of the genre’s usual stress on power?), there are actually many boxes where his entire work shows up. I got them on this batch:
Spreading the Word: Early Gospel Recordings (JSP 7733)
However, as far as one-disc-deals go, Document Records again steals the cake by issuing all his songs plus some more obscure extra-tracks. The recommended single-disc buy therefore is:
Storefront and Street Corner Gospel (DOCD-5054)
Washington Phillips’ complete recordings!
Cannon’s Jug Stompers
Cannon lived 1883–1979, and recorded 1927–1930, 1963.
He recorded 6 sides solo as Banjo Joe, 2 sides with Hosea Woods, 26 (plus 1 alternate take) with the Jug Stompers and did work with Noah Lewis, as well as a revival solo album. To this day, there is no box set collecting all this.
I recommend to go with the Document series:
These CDs below contain all 27 tracks Cannon recorded with the Jug Stompers plus the singles he recorded as Banjo Joe, the single with Hosea Woods and Noah Lewis’s jug band work (42 tracks over two discs).
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume I (November 1927 to 20 September 1928) (DOCD-5032),
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order : Volume 2 (12 September 1929 to 28 November 1930) (DOCD-5033)
Walk Right In (Stax SCD-8603-2) is his additional 1963 solo revival record.
There are other, worse ways:
The JSP-set Memphis Jug Band With Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers (JSP 7745) does contain all 26 Jug Stompers-singles, but it does not contain Cannon’s solo tracks.
If you get the JSP-set, you already have all the Stompers stuff, but you’re missing all the mentioned other tracks… since the 6 Banjo Joe singles can be found on the complete work by –>Robert Wilkins‘ Robert Wilkins and Gus Cannon: Memphis Blues – Complete Recordings in Chronological Order (Wolf WSE 108 CD) on Wolf Records, you’ll end up owning those anyway. You’ll still need to get the second Document-CD for the Noah Lewis stuff and the single wit Hosea Woods.
To recap: You can possibly get
Memphis Jug Band With Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers, the Memphis Jug Band box with the 26 Jug Stompers sides
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order : Volume 2 (12 September 1929 to 28 November 1930), the second Jug Stompers CD by Document, containing Noah Lewis and Hosea Woods
Robert Wilkins and Gus Cannon: Memphis Blues – Complete Recordings in Chronological Order, Robert Wilkins‘ complete works paired with the 6 „Banjo Joe“ (=Gus Cannon) sides
and Walk Right In, his 1963 solo record.
But this creates an unwelcome overlap of 12 sides between the Jug Stompers Document CD and the JSP set and leaves out the alternate take of the Jug Stompers‘ „Viola Lee Blues“. Yet with all the additional material as a „side effect“, this might well be worth it. For further ino, see –>MEMPHIS JUG BAND.
Also, if you get the Wolf Records work by Robert Wilkins and not the Document CD, you’ll miss six sides from two other super-obscure blues guys which are not in one place otherwise, but at this point, you know what, fuck it.
This whole mess can be avoided by not buying the JSP-set or the Wolf Records disc and sticking to Document all the way through, which means you’ll have to get three Document-CDs instead of one JSP-box (for the Memphis Jug Band)… which might be the better option after all.
These are Gus Cannon’s and Cannon’s Jug Stompers’ complete recordings and some more stuff.
Lived 1884–1933, recorded 1927–1930.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Vol. 1 (10 October 1927 to 27 August 1928) (DOCD-5114)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Vol. 2 (22 August 1928 to Febuary 1930) (DOCD-5115)
Jim Jackson’s complete recordings
Lived 1887–1949, recorded 1927–1931.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: 1927-1931 (DOCD-5034)
Another one of those essential single Documents discs that have all the stuff.
Sam Collins’ complete recordings
Lived 1877 or 1888–1955, recorded 1927–1929.
The Beale Street Sheiks (DOCD-5012, credited to the Beale Street Sheiks, with Dan Sane)
The Victor Recordings in Chronological Order (1928-1929) (DOCD-5013)
Frank Stokes’ complete recordings
Big Bill Broonzy
Lived 1893–1958, recorded 1927–1958.
All the Classic Sides 1928 – 1937 (JSP 7718, 5 CDs)
Vol 2: 1937 – 1940 (JSP 7750, 4 CDs)
Vol. 3: The War and PostWar Years 1940-1951 (JSP 7767, 4 CDs)
The Complete Vogue Recordings (Sony-BMG 82876643512 / Vogue 4351, 3 CDs, 1951–1952) spoiler: click to read
Big Bill Broonzy (Black and Blue 33555, Antwerp 1952 + Bruxelles 1955)
Great Bluesmen in Britain (Avid 736, V/A, London 1952)
Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs (Smithsonian Folkways SF 40023, live 1956)
Big Bill Broonzy and Washboard Sam (Chess LP-1468, 1953 [1962 publ.] with Washboard Sam)
Seven Classic Albums (Real Gone RGMCD185) [contains: Folk Blues (EmArcy MG 26034, rec. 1951, Chicago), Big Bill Broonzy Sings the Blues (Columbia (EMI) SEG 7674, 1956, Paris), Big Bill Broonzy (Philips BBL.7113, 1956, Baarn), Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs (Folkways FA 2328, 1956), Big Bill Broonzy Sings Country Blues (Folkways FTS 31005, NY, unknown date), The Blues (Mercury MMB 12003, 1951, Chicago), Big Bill Broonzy, Pete Seeger, Studs Terkel – Studs Terkel’s Weekly Almanac On Folk Music Blues On WFMT With Big Bill Broonzy And Pete Seeger (Smithsonian Folkways FS 3864, 1954 session, orig. FP 86, then Folkways 3864, but available online on folkways website). There’s another nice collection with some of these albums, but less complete: Four Classic Albums Plus (Avid Roots AMSC1001, collects four 12- or 10-inch-LPs from 1954–1958, with nine 1949-tracks. Collects these: Folk Blues (1951, Chicago), Big Bill Broonzy (1956, Baarn), Big Bill Broonzy Sings the Blues (1956, Paris), The Blues (1951, Chicago). Creates overlap with the third JSP-set and the Seven Classic Albums, but nice pick)]
Pye Blues Legends in London (Castle CMETD 562, 1955, with Josh White, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee)
An Evening With Big Bill Broonzy (Storyville SLP 114, Vol. 1, 1956 Copenhagen, but get the 18 track CD-reissue, Storyville 8016)
An Evening With Big Bill Broonzy, Vol. 2 (Storyville SLP 143, Vol. 2, 1965 Copenhagen, but ALSO get the 18 track CD-reissue, Storyville 8017)
There’s actually two supposedly alternate versions from this live session missing, issued on an obscure four-song-EP SEP 383 („Diggin‘ My Potatoes“ and “ John Henry“).
1956: Then there’s a four-song EP on Ricordi DRF 3, Italian session from 1956. Good luck finding these.
Big Bill Broonzy and Pete Seeger in Concert (Verve FV 9008, r.1956, p.1965)
His Story – Big Bill Broonzy Interviewed By Studs Terkel (Folkways 3586, 1956 Chicago)
Trouble In Mind (Spotlite SPJCD-900, 1957, Nottingham. Not to confuse with the Smithsonian Folkways-compilation by the same name! There’s a stray track on a different, less complete version of this, „When Did You Leave Heaven“ on Southland CD 20).
Bill Broonzy / Sonny Terry / Brownie McGhee (XTRA / 1004, 1957, Chicago)
Classic Box Set: The Bill Broonzy Story (Avid Roots AMSC 1159, 1957, Chicago. Replaces the „Last Session“-series by Verve).
Big Bill Broonzy’s complete recordings
Lived 1893–1981, recorded 1927–1971.
Furry’s Blues: The Complete Vintage Recordings of Furry Lewis (1927-1929) (DOCD-5004)
Furry Lewis (Folkways FA 3832, 1959)
Shake ‚Em On Down (Fantasy DLP 24703, 1961, contains Back on My Feet Again (Bluesville BVLP 1036) and Done Changed My Mind (Bluesville BVLP 1037))
Tennessee Legends Southland Records (Southland SLP-14, 1962/63, V/A, 3 tracks)
Beale St. Mess Around (Rounder 2006, 1962–1968)
Old Original Tennessee Blues (Revival RVS 1008, 1962–67, V/A, 5 tracks)
Good Morning Judge (Fat Possum FP80374-2, 1962–1967)
Furry Lewis, Bukka White & Friends* – Party! At Home (Arcola CD 1001, contains At Home with Friends) (ASP 1, 1968, split with –> BUKKA WHITE, see there)
The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions ( Columbia 88697041792, 1968, split with –> JOE CALLICOTT)
At Home In Memphis (Autogram ALCD-5805, 1968)
On The Road Again (Genes GCD 9918, 1969 album with bonus tracks)
Presenting the Country Blues (Blue Horizon 7-63228, 1969)
When I Lay My Burden Down (Biograph BLP-12017, 1968–69)
Fourth and Beale (Hip-O B0982241-02, 1969 session)
Blues Magician (Lucky Seven Records CD 9206, 1969 session)
Take Your Time (Genes GCD 9911, 1969 session)
Live at the Gaslight (Ampex A 10140, live 1971)
And here we go. I didn’t note two or three tracks scattered on V/A-comps. And I have the feeling there is more out there, the documentation about him is a bit messy. But for what it’s worth:
Furry Lewis’ complete recordings
Blind Willie Johnson
Lived 1897–1945, recorded 1927–1930.
The Complete Blind Willie Johnson (Legacy C2K 52835)
A splendid double-disc collection of all his 30 songs. These are
Blind Willie Johnson’s complete recordings
Blind Willie McTell
Lived 1898–1959, recorded 1927–35, 1940, 1949/50, 1956.
The Classic Years: 1927-1940 (JSP 7711, 4 CDs, 1927–1940)
This is equivalent to the first four CDs of the Document series:
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1 (1927-1931) (DOCD-5006),
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol.2 (1931-1933) (DOCD-5007),
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 3 (21 September 1933 to 25 April 1935) (DOCD-5008) and
Tryin‘ to Get Home: The Complete 1940 Library of Congress Recordings in Chronological Order (Document BDCD-6001)
(the first three of which also came in a package Statesboro Blues: The Early Years 1927-1935 (DOCD-5677)).
Get the four Document CDs or the JSP packages and additionally, there’s his 1949/50 session
„Don’t Forget It“: The Post-War Years 1949-1950 (Document BDCD-6014) and the last 1956 session
Last Session (OBC 517).
And that’s them! Blind Willie McTell’s complete recordings!
Lived 1900–1954, recorded 1927–1930, 1934, 1947–1950.
Complete Recordings in Chronological Order Volume 1 (11 August 1927 to 15 November 1928) (Matchbox MBCD 2001)
Complete Recordings in Chronological Order, Vol. 2 (16 November 1928 to 9 June 1930) (Matchbox MBCD 2002)
Complete Recordings in Chronological Order, Vol. 3 (9 June 1930 to 1950) (Matchbox MBCD 2003)
These are Texas Alexander’s complete recordings
Lived 1902–1932, recorded 1927–1930.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1 (1927-1928) (DOCD-5046)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 2 (1928-1929) (DOCD-5047)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 3 (1929-1930) (DOCD-5048)
Barbecue Bob’s complete recordings
The Beale Street Sheiks
See under →Frank Stokes
The Beale Street Sheiks’ complete recordings
Memphis Jug Band
Another complicated ordeal. I recommend getting the Document series:
Complete Recorded Works 1927-1930, Volume 1 (1927-1928) (DOCD-5021)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1928-1929) (DOCD-5022)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1930) (DOCD-5023)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: 1932-1934 (RST BDCD-6002)
There is also a JSP-set Memphis Jug Band With Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers (JSP 7745) containing all the material of the first three Document series-CDs and has 14 of 22 more tracks by associated artists (all 22 tracks of which appeared on Wolf Record’s Memphis Jug Band Associates & Alternate Takes (1927-1930) CD, Wolf WBCD-004). It also pairs their catalogue with all 26 of the Cannon’s Jug Stompers sides (see Cannon’s Jug Stompers).
But be warned: Getting the JSP-set creates a domino-reaction of inconveniences you can read about under «Gus Cannon». It’s a mess since JSP, Document and Wolf Records all organize the extra tracks and obscure singles by other artists in incompatible ways.
The Memphis Jug Band’s complete recordings as a group, but I’ll list the solo recordings of the members and associated artists one by one.
Unknown living dates, recorded 1927–1928.
Recorded 14 tracks that are known of, only ten of which resurfaced. Nine of them are on this Document disc paired with all recordings by Walter „Buddy Boy“ Hawkins, the tenth is on another Document clean-up collection.
Complete Recorded Works (1927-1929) (DOCD-5035)
Too Late Too Late Vol 3 (1927 – 1960’s) (DOCD-5276, V/A, 1 track)
William Harris’s complete recordings
St. Louis Bessie
aka Bessie Mae Smith, Mae Smith, Blue Belle, possibly Streamline Mae, Mae Belle Miller
Living dates unknown, recorded 1927-28, 1941
There are two document split releases, covering each of her two recording periods:
St Louis Women Vol 1: St Louis Bessie & Alice Moore Vol 1 1927 – 1929 (DOCD-5290)
St Louis Women Vol 2: Alice Moore (1934 – 1937) St. Louis Bessie (1941) (DOCD-5291)
These also contain all recordings by –>ALICE MOORE
St. Louis Bessie’s complete recordings
Walter „Buddy Boy“ Hawkins
Unknown living dates, recorded 1927–1929.
Look under –>William Harris
Recorded 12 tracks, all of them on a Document disc (DOCD-5035), paired with all of William Harris’s tracks.
Walter «Buddy Boy» Hawkins’ complete recordings
Mississippi John Hurt
Lived 1892/93–1966, recorded 1928, 1963–1966.
Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings (Legacy CK 64986, 1928).
Discovery: The Rebirth of Mississippi John Hurt (Spring Fed 108, 1963)
Folk Songs and Blues (Rounder 1081, 1963)
D.C. Blues: Library of Congress Recordings Vol. 1 (Fuel 2000, 302 061 407 2, 1963)
D.C. Blues: Library of Congress Recordings – Volume 2 (Fuel 2000, 302 061 495 2, 1963)
Blues at Newport: Recorded Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963 (Vanguard VSD 79145, 1963)
Newport Folk Festival 1963: The Evening Concerts – Vol. 1 (Vanguard VSD 79148, 1963)
Blues Revival, Vol. 1: 1963-1969 (DOCD-5697, V/A, 1963, 7 tracks)
Legend (Rounder 1100, 1963/64)
Worried Blues (Rounder 1082, 1964)
The Blues at Newport / 1964 / Part 2 (Vanguard 79181, 1964, 3 tracks)
Traditional Music at Newport 1964 – Part 2 (Vanguard 79183, 1964, 2 tracks)
The Complete Studio Recordings (Vanguard 181/83-2)
not his complete studio recordings, but contains the three studio Vanguard albums Today! (Vanguard VSD-79220, rec. 1964, pub.1966), The Immortal (Vanguard VSD 79248, rec. 1964, pub. 1967), and Last Sessions (Vanguard VSD 79327, rec. 1966, pub. 1972).
Memorial Anthology (Genes 9906/9907, 1964)
The Best of Mississippi John Hurt (Vanguard VSD 19/20, 1966)
Mississippi John Hurt Live (Vanguard CD 79702, same as above, but has three 1965-bonus tracks)
Ain’t Nobody’s Business (Prestige Elite CD 37, combines QS 5007 and QS 5042, 1966)
I’m pretty confident these can be called Mississippi John Hurt’s complete recordings, although with some known recordings left unissued and some more live appearences from the folk revival possibly surfacing, one never can be quite sure.
Lived 1893–1964, recorded solo 1928–1940.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order – Vol.1 1928 – 1931 (DOCD-5078)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order Volume 2: 5 June 1931 to 26 March 1934 (DOCD-5079)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order – Vol.3 (1934-1936) (DOCD-5080)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order – Vol.4 (1936-1938) (DOCD-5081)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order – Vol.5 (1938-1940) (DOCD-5082)
These are Bo Carter’s complete solo recordings, see the –>Mississippi Sheiks for his other work
Lived 1896–1956, recorded 1928–1930.
Big Road Blues (P-Vine PCD-15032)
This is more complicated than it seems. Document (and other) issues have usually 17 tracks on them. Eversince, an additional track surfaced („I Want Someone to Love“) – which is on this disc, so this is the real „complete“ deal as of now.
Johnson recorded at least one more song for Victor („Louisiana Blues“) which was destroyed.
There’s a few minor problems: „Untitled Song – Take 1 (Morning Prayer Blues)“ and „Untitled Song – Take 2 (Boogaloosa Woman)“ seem to have their titles backwards on the Document issues – this problem is SOLVED here, the (posthumously made-up) titles match the respective lyrics.
And then there is an additional song on another compilation Masters of the Delta Blues: The Friends of Charlie Patton (Yazoo 2002, 1991) called „Button Up Shoes“. It is either an incredibly similar take of the (correctly titled) „Untitled Song – Take 1 (Morning Prayer Blues)“ or the same take – I can’t make that out due to differing sound quality. As this track is not actually documented anywhere else, and it would be just very weird if none of the following archival issues had taken notice, I’m guessing it’s another made-up title for the mentioned untitled track.
So, these are Tommy Johnson’s complete recordings
Lived 1896–1987, recorded 1928–1935, 1964–1969.
Memphis Blues 1928-1935 Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order [w/ Tom Dickson & Allen Shaw] (DOCD-5014) – contains his 17 pre-war tracks and six sides by two other obscure bluesmen.
Don’t get the Wolf Records disc which fill the space with Gus Cannon’s solo cuts (see –>GUS CANNON)
The Blues at Newport / 1964 / Part 2 (Vanguard VRS-9181, 1965, V/A, there is only a single cut here from his performance)
Memphis Gospel Singer (Piedmont LP 13162, 1964)
…Remember Me (Genes CD 9902)
Maybe there are some more single cuts from this or that live show on V/A-compilations, but this is the body of his official documented work.
Robert Wilkins’ complete recordings
Lived 1900–1974, recorded 1928, 1950, 1961–1962.
Anderson recorded two singles in 1928: Every Day in the Week Blues / C. C. & O. Blues (Columbia 14400-D) and Papa’s ‚Bout to Get Mad / Gonna Tip Out Tonight (Columbia 14336-D). I haven’t found a compilation on RYM which contains both of them.
He then recorded some tracks in 1950, which were released on a split record with Rev. Gary Davis:
American Street Songs (OBC CD 524-2)
The bulk of his work comes from recording sessions in the early 1960s. Three albums were released coming from one session for Bluesville:
Carolina Blues Man, Vol. 1 (Prestige OBC CD-504-2)
Vol. 2: Medicine Show Man (OBC CD 587-2)
The Blues of Pink Anderson: Ballad & Folksinger, Vol. 3 (Bluesville LP BVLP-1071)
Some additional tracks from the same period (recorded in the wake of a documentary film) surfaced much later and were released by Folkways:
Carolina Medicine Show Hokum & Blues (Folkways FS 3588)
This release obviously mislabels a track as „Greasy Greens“ (an Anderson-staple), but is in fact a number called „Talking Blues“
So… there’s actually no way to get all this without buying the individual records. Still, it’s not much, so it’s feasible to keep an overview. Pretty sure these are Pink Anderson’s complete recordings
Lived 1901–1970, recorded 1928–1929.
Complete Recorded Works (1928-1929) (DOCD-5049)
This concise disc (padded with four tracks by his piano partner Charley Taylor) are Ishman Bracey’s essential and complete recordings
Lived 1901–1975, recorded solo 1928–1941.
Aka Walter Vincson, Walter Vincent, Walter Jacobs.
Complete Recorded Works (1928-1941) (Document BDCD-6017)
He seems to have more stuff from the 1960s (?) but I couldn’t find it documented anywhere.
For more of his stuff, see the the entry for the –>MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS.
But these are Walter Vincson’s / Walter Vinson’s complete solo recordings
Lived 1903–1962, recorded solo 1928–1936, 1958–1961
Lived 1903–1962, recorded solo 1928–1936, 1958–1961.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1 (1928-1932) (Document BDCD-6029)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 2 (1934-1958) (Document BDCD-6030)
Indianapolis Jump (Flyright LP 523, V/A, 1958, 2 tracks)
Scrapper Blackwell With Brooks Berry – Live at „1444 Gallery“, Indianapolis 1959 & the Complete „77“ LP Recordings 1960 (DOCD-5275, contains album Blues Before Sunrise, 77 / LA 12-4 and some recordings with Brooks Berry)
Too Late Too Late Vol 5 (1927 – 1964) (DOCD-5411, V/A, one additional track from above 1959-session)
Mr. Scrapper’s Blues (Bluesville 1047, 1961)
My Heart Struck Sorrow (Bluesville 1074, rec 1959/1961, issued 1963, with Brooks Berry)
For Blackwell’s prominent duo-work with Leroy Carr, see under –> LEROY CARR.
This list here also contains all recordings by –> BROOKS BERRY.
And that is them, not too scrambled, not too shabby:
Scrapper Blackwell’s complete recordings
Lived 1903–1983, recorded (1923) 1928–1981.
Aka Earl «Fatha» Hines
The Chronogical Classics: Earl Hines and His Orchestra 1928 – 1932 (Chronogical Classics 545)
The Chronogical Classics: Earl Hines 1934-1937 (Chronogical Classics 528)
1937 – 1939 (Chronogical Classics 538)
The Chronogical Classics: Earl Hines and His Orchestra 1939 – 1940 (Chronogical Classics 567)
The Chronogical Classics: Earl Hines 1941 (Chronogical Classics 621)
The Chronogical Classics: Earl Hines 1942-1945 (Chronogical Classics 876)
The Chronogical Classics: Earl Hines and His Orchestra 1945 – 1947 (Chronogical Classics 1041)
The Chronogical Classics: Earl Hines and His Orchestra 1947 – 1949 (Chronogical Classics 1120)
The Chronogical Classics: Earl Hines 1949-1952 (Chronogical Classics 1288)
The Chronological Classics: Earl Hines 1953 – 1954 (Chronogical Classics 1440)
Jimmie Noone & Earl Hines „At the Apex Club“ Volume 1 (1928) (Decca DL79235)
Paris One Night Stand (1957) (Verve 314 548 207-2)
The Real Earl Hines: Recorded Live! In Concert (1964) (Focus FM 335)
The Legendary Little Theatre Concert (1964, different concert) (Deluxe Records 602)
and from these discovery concerts onwards, you’ll basically have to get his individual live and studio albums, which are many.
But until 1964 this should be approximately
Earl Hines’s complete recordings
Lived 1904–1981, recorded 1928–1953.
There is a 15-disc Document series:
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1928-1929) (DOCD-5073)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 2: 1929 (DOCD-5074)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 3: 1929–1930 (DOCD-5075)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 4: 1930–1931 (DOCD-5076)
In Chronological Order Vol.5 (24 October 1931 to 23 March 1934) (DOCD-5077)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 6: 1934–1935 (DOCD-5206)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 7: 1935–1936 (DOCD-5207)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 8: 1936–1937 (DOCD-5208)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 9: 1937–1938 (DOCD-5209)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 10: 1938–1939 (DOCD-5210)
In Chronological Order Vol.11 (8 November 1939 to 27 November 1940) (DOCD-5211)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 12: 1941–1945 (DOCD-5212)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 13: 1945–1947 (DOCD-5213)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 14: 1949–1951 (DOCD-5214)
In Chronological Order Vol.15 (28 July 1951 to 4 December 1953) (DOCD-5215)
There are no other retrospectives or boxes claiming to be comprehensive, so besides his work as a sideman and this or that newly found track (those are always bound to show up on the many, many Document clean-up compilation), let’s say these are
Tampa Red’s complete recordings
Lived 1905–1935, recorded 1928–1935.
Say what you will about JSP Records, but they really serve the two definite box sets for Leroy Carr, outdoing the Document Records series (which misses a few tracks) even in respect of completeness.
The second set as usual contains additional blues performers to fill the space, but both sets are a better and more complete pick than Document.
Volume 1 1928-1934 (JSP Records JSP 77104, 4 CDs, 95 tracks, with SCRAPPER BLACKWELL)
When Sun Goes Down 1934-41 (JSP Records JSP 77125, 4 CDs, 91 tracks, with SCRAPPER BLACKWELL)
Leroy Carr’s complete recordings and more.
Blind Boy Fuller
Lived 1907–1941, recorded 1928–1940.
There are two ways to go about this. The best way probably is to get JSP’s
Remastered 1935-1938, all his recordings 1935–1938 (JSP 7735, 4 CDs)
Now, you can either get Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order Vol. 5: 29 October 1938 to 5 March 1940 (DOCD-5095) and Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order Volume 6: 5 March to 19 June1940 (DOCD-5096) from the chronological Document series and you have all of Fuller’s work.
The smarter way is probably to additionally get the second JSP-volume:
Volume 2 (JSP 7772, 4 CDs)
This contains the remaining Fuller records, but, in typical JSP fashion, fills some more CDs with loosely connected other blues performes with some hard to find gems. So if you want all of Fuller and some more, just go with the JSP sets.
Either way, these are Blind Boy Fuller’s complete recordings (and maybe some more stuff)
Lived 1909–1950, recorded solo 1928–1932.
aka Papa Charlie McCoy.
Complete Recorded Works (1928-1932) (DOCD-6018)
These are Charlie McCoy’s complete recordings, at least solo.
For his other work, see under the –>MCCOY BROTHERS (with his brother –>JOE MCCOY), as well as his group –>HARLEM HAMFATS and the –>MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS, where he chipped in sometimes.
Lived 1898–1983, recorded 1929–1936.
Mary Johnson 1929-1936 (DOCD-5305)
Mary Johnson’s complete recordings
Sleepy John Estes
Lived 1899–1977, recorded 1929–1977(?).
His early stuff is here:
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1 (1929-1937) (DOCD-5015)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 2 (2 August 1937 to 24 September 1941) (DOCD-5016)
Then there is a long hiatus, as for many blues men between the pre-war blues and the folk revival.
He reportedly recorded another two sides in 1952 (not accounted for here), but other than that you have to turn to his revival albums starting with 1962’s
The Legend of Sleepy John Estes (Delmark 603)
and the archival releases.
But at leat until 1941, these Sleepy John Estes’ complete recordings
Lived 1904–ca. 1950, recorded 1929, 1934–37.
There are two document split releases, covering each of her two recording periods. Already listed under –>St. Louis Bessie, so look there.
St Louis Women Vol 1: St Louis Bessie & Alice Moore Vol 1 1927 – 1929 (DOCD-5290)
St Louis Women Vol 2: Alice Moore (1934 – 1937) St. Louis Bessie (1941) (DOCD-5291)
These also contain all recordings by –> ST LOUIS BESSIE (aka Mae Smith or Streamline Mae)
Alice Moore’s complete recordings
Lovin‘ Sam Theard
Lived 1904–1982, recorded 1929–31, 1934–1941 (?)
In Chronological Order (1929 – 1936) (DOCD-5479)
Complete 1934-1940 Recordings In Chronological Order (Wolf Records WJS 1008)
There is a collection similar to WJS 1008 by Document Records, Jazzin‘ the Blues, Vol. 3 (1937–1941) (DOCD-5536), with most of that period’s stuff, but it does miss the 1936-side „Try Some of That / My Gal’s Been Foolin‘ Me“ (Decca 7201) by the Oscar’s Chicago Swingers.
Although there is a lot more work as a composer and an actor, these are the recordings of his career as a „music“ performer, as far as I can tell.
Lovin’ Sam Theard complete recordings
Lived 1906–1976, recorded 1929–1937, 1952, 1961–1976(?)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 1 (DOCD-5316)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 2 (DOCD-5317)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 3 (DOCD-5318)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 4 (DOCD-5319)
Scattered or unissued tracks:
4 unissued sides in 1952
2 sides on a 1961 single „Brownskin warmup / 1930 blues) (#Queen Vee Souvenir 1)
2 sides of this four-side EP nowhere else available (a take of „Turpentine“ and „Playing with the Keys“): EP From Broadway to 7th Avenue (Spivey EP 101, 1962)
almost a dozen further unissued tracks
Woman Blues! (Bluesville 1054, Original Blues Classics CD 566-2, 1961, with –>LONNIE JOHNSON)
Victoria Spivey and Her Blues (Spivey LP 1002, 1962)
Idle Hours (Bluesville 1044, Original Blues Classics CD 518, 1962, with LONNIE JOHNSON)
There seems to be a bit of uncertainty about an alleged 1962-session. Sources note it as Folkways FS 3815, which exists but doesn’t contain that session (only another song by Spivey). Other sources correspond the session with Victoria Spivey (XTRA 1022, 1965) and the identical The Blues Is Life (Folkways 3541, 1976). These exist but are very elusive.
Victoria Spivey And The Easy Riders Jazz Band (1965, GHB LP 17, six songs)
The Queen and Her Knights (Spivey LP 1006, 1965)
Victoria Spivey and Her Blues (Volume Two) (Spivey LP 1030, 1961-72)
Splits / V/A compilations:
If You Don’t Like What I’m Doin‘ Go Tell My Other Man (Spivey LP 1032, 1961, 1 song, live album by BRENDA BELL)
Brenda Bell Sings the Blues of Victoria Spivey (Spivey LP 1024, 1962/62, 1 song, album by BRENDA BELL)
Songs We Taught Your Mother (Bluesville 1052, Original Blues Classics 520-2, 1962, see ALBERTA JOHNSON, with Alberta Johnson and Lucille Hegamin)
Let’s Boogie – The All Stars Blues World of Spivey Records (Spivey LP 1025, 1962, 1 song)
Kings and the Queen, Volume II (Spivey LP 1014, 1962, 1964, 3 songs)
Piano Singer’s Blues (Rosetta RR 1303, 1962, 1 song)
Three Kings and the Queen: Roosevelt Sykes, Big Joe Williams, Lonnie Johnson & Victoria Spivey (Spivey LP 1004, 1962, 4 songs) (with Buddy Tate, Victoria Spivey, Lucille Hegamin, Hannah Sylvester)
Buddy Tate Invites You „to Dig“ a Basket of Blues (Spivey LP 1001, 1962, 4 songs)
Spivey’s Blues Parade (Spivey LP 1012, 1963, 1 song)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 (Hip-O B0001030-02, 1963, 1 song)
American Folk Blues Festival ’63 (Fontana 466.024 ME, 1963, 2 songs)
Encore! for the Chicago Blues (Spivey LP 1009, 1964, 1 song)
Up in the Queen’s Pad (Spivey LP 1031, 1969, 3 songs, an OTIS SPANN album)
Victoria Spivey Presents the All Star Blues World of Maestro Willie Dixon and His Chicago Blues Band (Spivey LP 1016, 1969, 1 song, WILLIE DIXON album)
… and actually, given the fact that Spivey basically curated her own label throughout and liked to make guest appearances, I’m not listing anything after 1970. Just get all the remaining Spivey Records Label records, and you’ll be fine.
Victoria Spivey’s complete recordings
Lived 1906–1983, recorded 1929–late 1970s
The 10-volume Document series covers his years from 1929 to 1957:
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1929-1930) (DOCD-5116)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1930-1931) (DOCD-5117)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1931-1933) (DOCD-5118)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1934-1936) (DOCD-5119)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5 (1937-1939) (DOCD-5120)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 6 (1939-1941) (DOCD-5121)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 7 (1941-1944) (DOCD-5122)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 8 (1945-1947) (DOCD-6048)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 9 (1947-1951) (DOCD-6049)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 10 (1951-1957) (DOCD-6050)
And from here on out, it gets a bit messier, I couldn’t locate any neat boxes or twofers. Just get his albums, live albums and appearances (on lots of Spivey Records albums, American Folk Blues Festivals…), starting with
The Return of Roosevelt Sykes (Bluesville 1006, Original Blues Classics CD 546, 1960)
And although he appeared as a guest on many V/A-compilations, you’ll sooner or later have an approximation of
Roosevelt Sykes’ complete recordings
Lived 1910–1975, recorded 1929–1973.
Well, there’s an obvious choice for the early period 1940–154, which is
The Complete Recordings of T-Bone Walker 1940-1954 (Mosaic MD6-1306, CDs, 144 tracks)
But alas, this baby goes for about 250 bucks last time I checked.
So maybe you can have a peek at the following – all very well done and all very neat collections of his respective labels. These might get you there cheaper, actually:
The Chronological T-Bone Walker 1929-1946 (Classics 5007, 1929–1946)
The Complete Capitol / Black & White Recordings (Capitol CDP 7243 8 29379 2 0, 1947)
The Complete Imperial Recordings, 1950-54 (EMI CDP-7-96737-2, 1950–1954)
We then go on to post-1954 territory:
T-Bone Blues (Atlantic 8020-2, 1957, Bonus Tracks)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 (Hip-O B0001030-02, V/A, 1962, 1 song)
The Original American Folk Blues Festival (Polydor 340, V/A, 1962, 2 songs)
Now we’re in Walker’s mid-1960s recording career and it is hardly that (a career, I mean). Messy sessions, lackluster publishing history and ramshackle documentation – but this doesn’t mean that the quality wasn’t there (most of the time). Anyhow, while it does get a bit obscure, large parts of his mid-1960s work was issued on „albums“ up until the mid-1970s. It’s a mess, there are no great „complete sessions“-collections or anything. Let’s go:
I couldn’t locate these:
„Hey Hey Baby“/“Should I Let Her Go (Sittin‘ Here Thinkin‘)“ (1964, Mod 1004).
„Goin‘ to Chicago“, „Stormy Monday Blues“, „Hey Baby, Come Home to Me“, „Every Day“ (1965, Alan Grant Presents CD 6886)
Then there are some V/A compilations:
60 Great Blues Recordings (Cascade Records CBOXCD3, 1964, V/A, 1 track)
Blues Around Midnight (Ace CH 235, 1964, V/A, 1 track)
Soul… In the Beginning (Avco-Embassy ave 33006, 1966, V/A(1969), 1 track)
Jazz at the Philharmonic in London (Pablo LP 2620 119, 1966, V/A(1989), 1 track)
The Greatest Jazz Concert in the World (Pablo PACD-2625-704-2, 1967, V/A, 2 tracks)
And these albums that represent his perceived output at the time. They’re all from mid-1960s sessions but the material had been issued for a decade after that. Here we go:
I Want a Little Girl (Delmark DS-633, 1967 album), different sequencing but identical with Feeling the Blues (Black And Blue 33.019, 1968), a 1967? session. The info about this is a bit sketchy.
Stormy Monday Blues (Bluesway BLS-6008, 1967 album, 1967 session)
Good Feelin‘ (Polydor 658158, 1968 album + session)
Funky Town (Bluesway BLS-6014, 1968 album + session)
The Truth (Brunswick BL 754126, 1968 album, 1966 session)
Every Day I Have the Blues (BluesTime BTS-9004, 1969 album, 1968 session)
Stormy Monday Blues (Wet Soul WS-1002, 1970 album, this is a contested 1967 or 1970 session)
And here’s the scattered things to fill up the holes above releases leave:
Plain & Simple (51 West Q 16013, a weird split release which features half of Ronnie Milsap’s 1975-album Plain and Simple and half scattered Walker-tracks, 1979, 1966 sessions)
I Don’t Be Jivin‘ (Bear Family Records BFX15277, 1987 compilation, 1966 session)
Back On The Scene (Texas 1966) (Sanctuary Records – 06076 81262-2; this used to be a 1966-album called „Home Cookin'“ (HCS-103) which I couldn’t find apart from listings. 1966 sessions, cool).
Blues Collective (LaserLight Digital 17 106, a 1996 split release also featuring Eddie „Cleanhead“ Vinson, apparently with a 1970 session by Walker for Sonny Lester).
Since there is no good set called say: „T-Bone! – the Whole Buffet 1964–1970“ (wouldn’t that be nice), commendable blues and jazz crazyman Gérard Herzhaft set out to do a professional mp3-collection (worth 4 CDs) of all of T-Bone’s 1964–1970s STUDIO sessions (no live performances). All of ‚em (nearly, about half a dozen tracks missing)! This is the best way to get his 1960s work – the song by song discography (and possibly the real deal…) still findable with some inquiry in the comment section under this link:
A complete version of at least CD1 is here:
Hm. It’s not quite satisfying, mainly due to the fact that Walker is treated like a half-forgotten commodity after 1960 by the market. Which is weird, he could still pull it off throughout the decade.
So until about 1970, these are
T-Bone Walker’s complete recordings
Lived 1914–1969, recorded 1929–1965.
Complete Recorded Works 1929-1940 in Chronological Order, Volume 1: 6 September 1929 to 13 November 1933 (DOCD-5194)
Complete Recorded Works 1929-1940 in Chronological Order, Volume 2: 24 November 1933 to 18 March 1935 (DOCD-5195)
Complete Recorded Works 1929-1940 in Chronological Order, Volume 3: 18 March 1935 to 7 March 1940 (DOCD-5196)
Complete Recorded Works 1940-1941 In Chronological Order, vol. 4 (4 June 1940 to 1941) (DOCD-5405)
Complete Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 5 (1944) (DOCD-5571)
In Chronological Order, vol. 6 (1944-1945) (DOCD-5572)
The Remaining Titles 1941–1947 (Document DOCD-1013 clean-up comp)
Black Folk Singers – Remaining Titles, 1937 – 1946 (DOCD-1018) see under –> LEAD BELLY
This is very neat, but from here on out, around 1950, the weird transition phase before the folk revival and before there was something like albums and a market for albums, White’s recording behaviour becomes erratic and there are no real „sessions“ that would make for nice compilations. Since he recorded the same songs dozens of times, it’s also not always easy to see from documentation which versions of which song show up on which tracklist (you have to go by context of other songs, but that’s unreliable). Anyway, if you really want all the tracks from this difficult period, it goes something like the following:
From New York to London: the Classic Recording (Jasmine JASMCD3004-5, 1944–47, 1950-51). This will get you many (but not all) of that period’s tracks, but not even a dozen that are „only“ here. The rest is overlap with the four entries above and these two below:
Wanderings: 25 Original Mono Recordings 1945-1951 (Living Era 5551, 1945-51). Has about three tracks unique to it.
Free and Equal Blues (Smithsonian Folkways SFW40081, 1944-46). Has about three tracks unique to it.
…aaand I’m afraid from here on, you have to get his numerous albums, starting with this one:
The Story of John Henry… A Musical Narrative / Ballads, Blues and Other Songs (Elektra / EKL-701, 1955)
The earlier „albums“ are still collected on the sets mentioned above. Other than that, there are no good collections. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend The Elektra Years , since it only collects parts of his seven LPs for Elektra (and those are thankfully proper albums, so no tedious hunter-gathering for tracks there).
There’s one more BBC broadcest session you can get, with tracks by other greats as well:
Great Bluesmen in Britain (Avid 736, 1950, also with Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry)
And finally, very few of his singles haven’t been put on CD (like his 1950-Paris 78s, as far as I can see) or are only on very scattered V/A-comps, but we’re talking miniscule numbers here. Well. This isn’t a complete triumph, but for his output until he started recording for Elektra in 1954, this is very promising.
Josh White’s complete recordings
Lived 1897–1973, recorded 1929–1953.
and Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe
Lived 1897–1973, recorded 1929–1953.
This one is a bit tricky. There are three Document Records (and sub-label) series: 4 CDs with Kansas Joe covering 1929–1934 (88 tracks) on Document, 5 CDs covering 1935–1941 (112 tracks) on RST and another 3 CDs covering 1944–1953 on Wolf (83 tracks). A total of 283 tracks (including snippets and alternate takes). The links are below.
This is a sure way to go. However, JSP Records released two 5 CD-boxes containing 244 tracks:
The first one, Queen of Country Blues (JSP 7716) poses a bit of a problem. It contains all her work chronologically from 1929–1937 – EXCEPT her takes for Columbia Records which were some of her most important. As far as I can tell, it also skips a few B-sides from the labels that should be here. All in all, it misses 21 tracks when compared to the first Document-series, some of which are important. So I’d avoid this one!
However, the second JSP-box, Queen of the Delta Blues: Volume 2 (JSP 7741) contains everything counting from the 4th Document-CD of the 2nd series.
So the smart way to go is getting the whole first Document series (4 CDs), getting the first 3 CDs of the second Document series – and then get the SECOND JSP-set Queen of the Delta Blues: Volume 2. This will create an overlap between the last Document-CD you get and the JSP-box set of 15 tracks or so, but it’s probably the cheaper and faster way – unless you opt for the slightly more elegant solution to just skip the JSP-set and go for the 12 individual Document CDs.
The Document Records series
First series (Document)
1929-1934 Recordings in Chronological Order, vol. 1 (28 June 1929 to 29 May 1930) (DOCD-5028)
1929-1934 Recordings in Chronological Order, vol. 2 (5 June 1930 to 30 January 1931) (DOCD-5029)
1929-1934 Recordings In Chronological Order, vol. 3 (30 January 1931 to 4 Febuary 1932) (DOCD-5030)
1929-1934 Recordings in Chronological Order, vol. 4 (1933-1934) (DOCD-5031)
Second series (RST)
Complete Recorded Works 1935-1941 in Chronological Order vol. 1 (10 January to 31 October 1935) (RST BDCD-6008)
Complete Recorded Works 1935-1941 in Chronological Order vol. 2 (16 December 1935 to 12 November 1936) (RST BDCD-6009)
Complete Recorded Works 1935-1941 in Chronological Order vol. 3 (9 June to 15 September 1937) (RST BDCD-6010)
Complete Recorded Works 1935-1941 in Chronological Order vol. 4 (23 June 1938 to 6 Febuary 1939) (RST BDCD-6011)
Complete Recorded Works 1935-1941 in Chronological Order vol. 5 (27 June 1940 to 12 December 1941) (RST BDCD-6011)
Third series (Wolf)
The Complete Post-War Recordings in Chronological Order Vol. 1 (Wolf WBCD-008)
The Complete Post-War Recordings in Chronological Order Vol. 2 (Wolf WBCD-009)
The Complete Post-War Recordings in Chronological Order Vol. 3 (Wolf WBCD-010)
Ta-da. Memphis Minnie’s complete recordings
Also known as Kansas Joe (and many others).
Joe McCoy never recorded under his own name.
For his work see under: MEMPHIS MINNIE (incl. MEMPHIS MINNIE & KANSAS JOE), HARLEM HAMFATS, MCCOY BROTHERS.
Leothus „Lee“ Green
aka Lee Green or Pork Chops.
Lived ca. 1900–ca. 1945, recorded 1929–1937.
Blind Roosevelt Graves
aka The Graves Brothers
Lived 1909–1962, recorded 1929–1936.
The Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: 1929-1936 (DOCD-5105)
Blind Roosevelt Graves’ complete recordings
Lived ?–1934, recorded 1929–1934.
Complete Recordings 1929-1934 (JSP 7702, 5 CDs).
These are Charley Patton’s complete recordings and some more by other artists where he played guitar (or is suspected to).
Lived 1899 or 1900–1969, recorded 1930, 1967–1968.
This is maddening. Callicott’s issued output represents something like the absolute worstcase of publishing a blues great, at least in terms of session-continuity and overlap. And here’s why:
Callicott recorded two solo sides in 1930. These are made available on later compilations, so don’t worry. He then recorded about two dozen tracks in (probably August) 1967 at home in Nesbit, and another session in 1968. And you can add two 1968 live tracks to that. This should be a homerun, with neat packages containing all the stuff, in chronology, et cetera.
The opposite is the case. Look at this mess:
Deal Gone Down (Revival RVS 1002, 1967). This is a 1971 „album“ from the 1967-sessions. At least three tracks are collected on no other compilation. All the others are overlapping with at least one of the other collections.
Mississippi Delta Blues – Blow My Blues Away Vol.2 (Arhoolie CD 402, 1967). Excellent and important selection, but only one track that isn’t overlap with at least on other Callicott-collections listed here. But it contains recordings by R.L. BURNSIDE and HOUSTON STACKHOUSE, so, good buy. Contains his 1930-single Fare Thee Well Blues / Traveling Mama (Brunswick 7166).
Ain’t a Gonna Lie to You (Fat Possum 80360-1, 1967). Also excellent, contains only one track that isn’t overlap (a 1967-version of „Fare Thee Well Blues“).
North Mississippi Blues (Southland SCD-35, 1967). This is also excellent and contains two tracks that were previously unreleased. The rest overlaps with at least one of these four collections. Also contains his Contains his 1930-single Fare Thee Well Blues / Traveling Mama (Brunswick 7166) (compare above).
So, long story short: If you want all his 1967-recordings, you need to get these four collections. But they just contain three, two, one and one track, respectively, that doesn’t appear on one of the others. This is very depressing.
Continue with the two 1968-live tracks:
The 1968 Memphis Country Blues Festival (Sire SES 97003, V/A, 1968, two tracks)
This has a somewhat consolatory ending, as his once scattered 1968-Blue Horizon sessions are neatly packed on this excellent set, a split release with FURRY LEWIS:
The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (Columbia 88697041792, 1968, split with –>FURRY LEWIS)
Frustrating, but these are
Joe Callicott’s complete recordings
Lived 1901–1968, recorded 1930–1938.
The Document series seems a pretty safe bet here.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1 (17 May 1930 to 15 March 1935) (DOCD-5037)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 2 (1935-1936) (DOCD-5038)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Vol. 3 (22 May 1936 to 12 March 1937) (DOCD-5039)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 4 (1937-1938) (DOCD-5040)
Kokomo Arnold’s complete recordings
Lived 1902–1941, recorded 1930–1941.
Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, vol. 1 (13 September 1930 to 17 March 1932) (DOCD-5241)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, vol. 2 (25 March 1934 to 17 July 1935) (DOCD-5242)
Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol. 3 (17 July 1935 to 19 February 1936) (DOCD-5243)
Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, vol. 4 (20 Febuary 1936 to 26 March 1937) (DOCD-5244)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 5 (26 March 1937 to 18 October 1938) (DOCD-5245)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 6 (18 October 1938 to 4 April 1940) (DOCD-5246)
Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, vol. 7 (4 April 1940 to 25 November 1941) (DOCD-5247)
There’s some more tracks on two of Document’s «Too Late»-clean up-compilations.
Peetie Wheatstraw’s complete recordings
Lived 1902–1988, recorded 1930, 1941–1942, 1964–1974.
Son House & the Great Delta Blues Singers (1928-1930) (DOCD-5002)
Field Recordings Volume 17: Library of Congress Recordings 1941-1942 (DOCD-5689)
The Real Delta Blues (14 Songs From the Man Who Taught Robert Johnson) (Bluegoose BG 2016, 1964)
Live at the Gaslight Cafe N.Y.C. (DOCD-5663, 1964)
Live! (Roots SL-501, 1965, split with ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS)
Father of the Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Sessions (Legacy C2K-48867)
Revisited (Fuel 2000 CD 302 061 249 2, 1965)
New York Central Live! (Acrobat ACRCD 162, 1966)
Son House Vol. 1 (1965 – 1970) (Private Records PR1, 1965–1970). Covers film soundtracks, tv appearances and such and it is pretty freaking rare. Never seen this. There is an unnumbered Document-LP with even more, rarer tracks which – according to Stefan Wirz – had only 20 copies made worldwide.
Son House (1964-1974) (Private Records PR2, 1964–1974) – as above. No idea about these, really. You’re more likely to find the jam session Son House had with the Loch Ness Monster.
At Home: Legendary 1969 Rochester Sessions (DOCD-5148, 1969, includes the entire The Vocal Intensity of Son House, Roots SL-504)
Delta Blues and Spirituals by Son House (Capitol 7243 8 31830 2 9, 1970)
Been Here and Gone (Catfish KATCD126, 1966/1971/1972 with Woody Mann, Jo Ann Kelly)
Takoma Blues (Takoma CDP 72822, 1964, 1 track)
John And Old Marster – Negro Folk Tales (Flyright EP 01, 1965, 1 track)
Festival: The Newport Folk Festival 1965 (Vanguard KICP-2122, 1965, 2 tracks)
Great Bluesmen: Newport (Vanguard VCD 77/78, 1965, 2 tracks, 1 of which is redundant to above)
The Great Blues Men (Vanguard VSD 25/26, 1965, 1 track)
Living Legends (Verve Folkways FTS-3010, 1966, 1 track, split with SKIP JAMES, BUKKA WHITE, BIG JOE WILLIAMS)
American Folk Blues Festival ’67 (Fontana 885.433 TY, 1967, 1 track)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969 Volume 2 (Hip-O B0003224-02, 1967, 1 track)
Giants of Country Blues Guitar, Vol. 1 (Wolf 120.911 CD, 1969, 1 track)
The Ragtime Cowboy Jew ( Transatlantic TRA (E) 223, by Stefan Grossman, 1970, 2 tracks with Son House)
This was more work than I thought. But there are some chunky collections in this one. Nice.
Son House’s complete recordings
Lived 1903–ca.1980, recorded solo 1930–1941.
She did this or that other thing as a guest vocalist, but this is her solo output.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 1: 16 May 1930 to 11 May 1936 (DOCD-5301)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 2: 12 May 1936 to 19 May 1937 (DOCD-5302)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 3: 5 October 1937 to 18 May 1939 (DOCD-5303)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 4: 18 May 1939 to 11 March 1941 (DOCD-5304)
Georgia White’s complete recordings
Lived 1906 or 09–1977, recorded 1930–1977(?).
Also see under –>FURRY LEWIS.
The Complete Sessions 1930-1940 (Travelin‘ Man CD 03, 1930–1940)
Bukka White recorded 20 tracks between 1930 and 1940. As they fit comfortably on one CD, there are a number of issues that have all these, the one above is my favourite. Don’t go for less (there are 14-, 17-, and 18-track-compilations that call themselves „complete“) – Bukka White is bloody amazing, all of that stuff is essential.
He was then part of the 1960s folk revival which as usually complicates things, but this should do the trick:
Mississippi Blues (Takoma B 1001, 1964), his first studio album, same as compilation Revisited (Fuel 2000) with different sequencing. Also available as Legacy of the Blues (Sonet SNTCD 609)
Sky Songs: Vol. 1 (Arhoolie F1019, rec 1963)
Sky Songs: Vol. 2 (Arhoolie F1020, rec 1963)
–> I recommend this CD Sky Songs (Arhoolie CD 323), which collects all tracks from the two „Sky Songs“- records except a thirty-minute spoken word story without music about getting some water or something.
Live Cafe Au Go Go 1965 (RockBeat ROC-CD-3251, 1965, with Skip James also performing)
Memphis Hot Shots (Blue Horizon 7-63229, 1968)
Party! At Home: Recorded in Memphis 1968 (Arcola CD 1001, 1968 with Furry Lewis)
Baton Rouge Mosby Street (Blues Beacon 1932 119, 1972)
Big Daddy (Biograph BLP-12049, 1973 sessions)
The 1968 Memphis Country Blues Festival (Sire SES 97003)
The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions / The 1968 Memphis Country Blues Festival (Blue Horizon 82876851232)
1963 Isn’t 1962 (Genes GCD 9903, 1962/63?)
Mississippi Delta Blues Jam in Memphis Vol 2 (Arhoolie 386, 1967/68? V/A-comp with SLEEPY JOHN ESTES)
Sparkasse in Concert (Sparkasse I/75, live 1975?)
All this is a mix of field recordings, studio albums and live albums – there’s no neat box set or anything.
Apart from potential single tracks on V/A-comps, this should be
Bukka White’s complete recordings
Big Boy Teddy Edwards
Living dates unknown, recorded 1930–1936
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order (1930-1936) (DOCD-5440)
Big Boy Teddy Edwards‘ complete recordings
Recorded 1930–1936, 1972.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 1 (17 February to 12 June 1930) (DOCD-5083)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 2 (15 December 1930 to 24 October 1931) (DOCD-5084)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 3 (25 October 1931 to 26 March 1934) (DOCD-5085)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 4 (26 March 1934 to 15 October 1936) (DOCD-5086)
This has been reissued on the Third Man label on vinyl.
You’ll also need
The New Mississippi Sheiks (Rounder 2004, rec 1972)
This is actually a new line-up with only two original members (Sam Chatman and Walter Vinson) and a „reunion“ album, after Chatman had started recording again in the 1960s.
The Mississippi Sheiks’ complete recordings
Recorded (in a duo-or-more format) 1934–1944.
Beware, this is less of a „group“ of the two brothers, Joe and Charlie, but rather a wild variety of combos and duos where they both happened to play (guitar or banjo, or in Charlie’s case, a „banjo-mandolin“), regardless whether other musicians were involved, under different monikers. Given their more famous set-ups (for more McCoy-hijinks, see here under –> CHARLIE MCCOY, –>HARLEM HAMFATS and the –>MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS and for Joe under –>JOE MCCOY, –> MEMPHIS MINNIE & KANSAS JOE).
Complete Recorded Works 1934-1944 in Chronologocal Order, Volume 1: 1934-1936 (BDCD-6019)
Complete Recorded Works 1934-1944 in Chronologocal Order, Volume 2: 1936-1944 (BDCD-6020)
As far as their duo works go:
The McCoy Brothers’ complete recordings
Lived 1902–1969, recorded 1928(?), 1931, 1964–1969.
James first recorded a number of singles in 1931, all of which are here:
The Complete 1931 Session (Yazoo 1072, DOCD-5005)
During the folk revival, he recorded prolifically between 1964–69. Take the following list with a grain of salt though. Quote from Wikipedia:
«These five prolific years have not been thoroughly documented: recordings, outtakes, and interviews not released on James’s LPs (which have been repeatedly cannibalized and reissued) are scattered among many compilations released by small labels. Previously unreleased performances continue to be found and released but have been left largely unexplained—sometimes hours‘ worth at a time.»Wikipedia: Skip James
Hard Time Killing Floor Blues (Biograph CD 30169, bonus track reissue of Greatest of the Delta Blues Singers, 1965)
Today! (Vanguard VMD 79219)
Devil Got My Woman (Vanguard CD 79273-2)
Later compilations / studio sessions:
Skip’s Piano Blues (Genes GCD 9910 1964, archival)
A Tribute to Skip James (Biograph BLP 12016, 1964)
She Lyin‘ (Genes GCD 9901, 1964, archival)
Studio Sessions: Rare and Unreleased (Vanguard 79705-2, 1967 studio session)
Blues From the Delta (Vanguard VCD 79517-2)
and maybe this one:
King of the Delta Blues Singers: Early Blues Recordings-1931 (Biograph BLP-12029, this one is a bit of a bummer: it’s mostly his 1931 recordings with one previously unreleased track possibly from 1928 and with the last two tracks being from 1964)
Live at ‚The 2nd Fret‘, Philadelphia 1966 (DOCD-5149, 1966 live)
Skip James Live Volume 2 – Bloomington 1968 Part 1 (DOCD-5633)
Skip James Live Volume 3 – Bloomington 1968 Part 2 (DOCD-5634)
Live Cafe Au Go Go 1965 (RockBeat ROC-CD-3251, 1965, with Bukka White tracks)
The Blues at Newport / 1964 / Part 2 (Vanguard VRS-9181, V/A 1964, 4 tracks)
Great Bluesmen: Newport Vanguard VSD 77/78, V/A, 1964, 3 tracks)
there are some more V/A-compilations with one or two tracks by James each, I am not going to list them here.
There is one single 1928-recording sometimes credited to Skip James, but it most likely isn’t him. It is the piano blues „Throw Me Down“ credited to „Unknown“ on
Piano Blues Volume 2 (1927-1956) (DOCD-5220)
As mentioned, more live recordings kept and keep popping up in recent years. But this is a pretty formidable collection of his quality material already, and for pragmatic purposes
Skip James’s complete recordings
St. Louis Jimmy Oden
Lived 1903–1977, recorded 1932–1968.
Complete Recorded Works Vol. 1 (1932 – 1944) (DOCD-5234)
Complete Recorded Works Vol. 2 (1944 – 1955) (DOCD-5235)
„Too Late, Too Late“ More Newly Discovered Titles, Alternate Takes & Supplements, Volume 9 (1922-1945) (DOCD-5590, V/A, 1 track)
The Complete Candid Otis Spann / Lightnin‘ Hopkins Sessions (Mosaic MD3-139, 1960 by –>OTIS SPANN, see there. ROBERT LOCKWOOD is on guitar and Oden takes the vocals on some tracks).
Goin‘ Down Slow (Bluesville 1028, 1961 album)
Chicago Boogie (Delmark DD 773, 1963, by Roosevelt Sykes, 4 tracks with Oden)
I Blueskvarter Chicago 1964, Volume Two (Jefferson Records SBACD 12655/6, 1964, V/A, 4 tracks)
Chicago Blues (Spivey 1003, V/A, 1964, 2 tracks)
There is a 1968 (probably) side of „Going Down Slow“ (issued as Ebony 1000, with a Sleepy John Estes-flip side) that is elusive and maybe unavailable on CD. Who knows!
St. Louis Jimmy Oden is often credited as a vocalist / sideman on records by heavier hitters such as Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim or Otis Spann. So this list here is spotty at best concerning his output as a vocalist. As for his proper output as a credited recording artist, this probably isn’t too shabby though.
Let’s call it
St. Louis Jimmy Oden’s complete recordings
Lived 1908–1975, recorded 1932–1974.
Let the Good Times Roll: The Complete Decca Recordings 1938-54 (Bear Family BCD 15557, 1938–1954)
The Aladdin „X“ & Vik Recordings 1953-55 (Rev-Ola CR BAND 2, 1953–1955)
The Rock ’n‘ Roll Years: 1955-58 (Jasmine JASCD 151, 1955–1958)
Besides one alternative take (with no overdubs), that’s all prior to 1958.
Louis Jordan & Chris Barber (Black Lion Records 147.001, 1962)
The Best Of Both Worlds (World Record Club T 368, with Chris Barber, 1962)
From here on it gets very patchy. Several singles between 1960 and 1962 were never issued on any compilation. And his Tangerine records starting 1962 (singles and albums) have not been issued as a box set, so the singles are basically not attainable.
Just get his albums between 1964 and 1974 for the time being, starting with
Hallelujah… Louis Jordan Is Back! (Tangerine TRC 1503, 1964)
So not really complete, but as far as easy attainability goes…
Louis Jordan’s complete recordings
aka Leadbelly, real name Huddie Ledbetter.
Lived 1888–1949, recorded 1933–1949.
Well, this is the one that arguably started it all for me. If you want a detailed list (listing sessions – matrix numbers – song titles), check out my detailed web page: Complete Discography for Lead Belly. This list here gives you a summarized, concise overview of what you really need.
Collecting Lead Belly is a mess. Known to have recorded more than 700 tracks (I disremember where I got that number from, my own excel-sheet shows 909 tracks so far – some of which are probably doubles, and it heavily depends on whether you count his radio shows and lengthy medleys as one or several tracks), it is almost impossible to keep track on which versions have been issued how many times on which labels and compilations exactly – especially because the information keeps changing (dates and catalogue-numbers tend to shift around from release to release – and also the largest Lead Belly set yet, „The Smithsonian Folkways Collection“, features diverging and contradictory information in itself), and some info is simply lost. Any list not made by the compilers who have access to the vaults and manage the original tapes has to rely on the information put out.
Let’s dive in. There’s a lot of overlap! But not nearly as much as I expected, and it’s all worth it.
The Rounder Records series:
Midnight Special (RCD-1044, 1934–1935)
Gwine Dig a Hole to Put the Devil In (RCD-1045, 1935–1940)
Let It Shine on Me: The Library of Congress Recordings Vol. 3 (Rounder) (RCD-1046, 1940–1942)
The Titanic (RCD-1097, 1934–1935)
Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, Vol. 5 (RCD-1098, 1935–1938)
Go Down Old Hannah (RCD-1099, 1935–1940)
Bridging Lead Belly (RCD-1151, 1938/1946/?)
Columbia / Legacy (more Library of Congress recordings):
King of the 12-String Guitar (CK 46776, 1935)
The Document Records series:
Field Recordings – Volume 5: Louisiana, Texas, Bahamas (1933–1940) (V/A, Document DOCD-5579, 16 Lead Belly songs on 7 tracks, 14 of which create no overlap)
The Remaining ARC and Library of Congress Recordings: Volume 1 (1934–1935) (DOCD-5591)
The Remaining Library of Congress Recordings: Volume 2 (1935) (DOCD-5592)
The Remaining Library Of Congress Recordings: Volume 3 (1935) (DOCD-5593)
The Remaining Library Of Congress Recordings: Volume 4 (1935-1938) (DOCD-5594)
The Remaining Library Of Congress Recordings: Volume 5 (1938-1942) (DOCD-5595)
Complete Recorded Works 1939-1947 in Chronological Order Vol. 1 (1 April 1939 to 15 June 1940) (DOCD-5226)
Complete Recorded Works 1939-1947 in Chronological Order Vol. 2 (17 June 1940 to mid ’43) (DOCD-5227)
Complete Recorded Works 1939-1947 in Chronological Order Vol. 3 (October 1943 to 25 April 1944) (DOCD-5228)
Complete Recorded Works 1939-1947 in Chronological Order Vol. 4 (May to October 1944) (DOCD-5310)
Complete Recorded Works: 1939-1947, In Chronological Order, Volume 5 (27 October 1944 to October 1946) (DOCD-5311)
Complete Recorded Works 1939-1947 in Chronological Order Vol. 6 (1947) (DOCD-5568)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order Vol. 7 (1947-1949) (DOCD-5640)
Private Party (November 21, 1948) (DOCD-5664)
Live: New York 1947 & Austin, TX 1949 (DOCD-5676) This contains 3 songs feat. Lead Belly from a concert with Bunk Johnson. If you want to get more than just the songs feat. Lead Belly, here you go: Bunk & Leadbelly at New York Town Hall 1947 (American Music AMCD 46, 1947)
Black Folk Singers – Remaining Titles, 1937 – 1946 (DOCD-1018)
„Too Late, Too Late“ Volume 5: More Newly Discovered Titles and Alternate Takes (1927-1964) (V/A, DOCD-5411, 2 Lead Belly songs)
„Too Late, Too Late“: More Newly Discovered Titles and Alternate Takes, Volume 6 (1924-1946) (V/A, DOCD-5461, 2 Lead Belly alt. takes)
Although Too Late, Too Late: Newly Discovered Titles and Alternate Takes Volume 3 (1927-1960’s) (DOCD-5276) contains 1 Lead Belly song, this song is covered already by „King of the 12-String Guitar“. Of course this clean-up compilation has more stuff by other artists
The Folkways Records collections:
Leadbelly’s Last Sessions (SFW40068, 1948, 4 CDs) This seems to be a more readily available reissue: The Last Sessions 1948 (Real Gone RGMCD303)
Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection (SFW40201, 1934–1949)
This Biograph Records CD:
Good Morning Blues (Biograph BCD 113, 1940) features 6 tracks by Lead Belly, but also track by –> REVEREND GARY DAVIS and DAN SMITH, so it’s a worthwile addition
This Collectables Records CD:
Defense Blues: Golden Classics Part Two (Collectables COL-CD-5196, 1943??) Wolfe/Lornell and Dixon/Godrich/Rye both mention this tracklist and guess it to be 1943 recordings, but no one knows when and where they’re from. As far as I can tell, this could all be doubles, but I have no idea until I hear them.
Now let’s start the Festival of Overlap:
Smithsonian Folkways (SFW) has been working hard to make their own releases redundant by issuing, re-issuing and re-re-issuing their material on ever larger (and ever better) sets. But here are two more of their anthologies that haven’t been made utterly redundant:
Sings Folk Songs (SF40010, 1942–1948) features two additional takes of „Corn Bread Rough“ and „Little Children’s Blues“ whom I suspect to be doubles (maybe even under different titles) – so wait a little with this one.
Where Did You Sleep Last Night: Lead Belly Legacy, Vol. 1 (SFW40044, 1941–1947). This one features 3 tracks that aren’t covered or made redundant by the larger SFW-sets above. But of these 3 tracks, I suspect 2 might be doubles with other takes available here. Research needs to be done. Either way, this is for 1-3 additional tracks…)
Bourgeois Blues: Lead Belly Legacy, Vol. 2 (SFW40045, 1940–1949). This one has 6 additional tracks, there are probably no doubles, I need to check. So far, I’m sure that at least one of them is NOT a double and only available here).
Sings for Children (SFW45047, 1945) This one features just one additional take of „Take This Hammer“ which you can get nowhere else
Now there’s one more CD which has massive overlap but features two tracks available nowhere else:
When the Sun Goes Down Vol. 5: Take This Hammer – The Secret History of Rock & Roll (RCA Victor / Bluebird 50957, 1940) features just two additional songs, takes of „Yellow Gal“ and „Julianne Johnson“
Conclusion (as of now)
The good news is that, if you get just these records mentioned, I can say with some confidence that you’ll have 99% of Lead Belly’s issued output. And that is all we really can and should care about at this point in time. The bad news is that some of the issued tracks never made it from LP to CD. Here are those LPs:
Leadbelly 1934-1946 (Document LP 544) Arguably has an alternate take of „Fort Worth and Dallas Blues“, but the discographies are unsure whether it’s actually a different take. It’s number is „16705-“ while the other issued take is numbered „16705-2“; as well as a different take of „Pig Meat Papa“ (#17181-1)
Complete Library of Congress Recordings in Chronological Order on 12 LPs – Vol. 1 (Document LP 601) This is part of a 12-LP-series (numbered 601-612)Document issued that aimed at containing all of Lead Belly’s Library of Congress recordings. This first LP (601) contains versions of „You Can’t Loose-Me-A-Cholly“ (246-B-2) and „Mister Tom Hughes‘ Town“ (246-B-3) that never made it onto a CD
Complete Library of Congress Recordings in Chronological Order on 12 LPs – Vol. 11 (Document LP 611) This is part of a 12-LP-series (numbered 601-612) Document issued that aimed at containing all of Lead Belly’s Library of Congress recordings. This 11th LP (611) features „Tall Angel at the Bar“ (#4471-B-4 (a)). It’s noteworthy that there’s no other track by Lead Belly with this title.
Complete Library of Congress Recordings in Chronological Order on 12 LPs – Vol. 10 (Document LP 610) featuring „Amazing Grace-2“ (#4470-B-5) not available on CD, also on The Library of Congress Recordings (Elektra EKL 301/2), an (incomplete) anthology-LP of the Library of Congress-recordings;
Jazz, Vol. 1: The South (Folkways FP 53, FJ 2801) features PROBABLY an alternate take of „John Henry“ (#SC 259-1)
A Leadbelly Memorial: Volume I (Stinson LP 17, 1952) not to be confused with the similar titled Folkways LP. Contains a possibly alternate take of „Ain’t You Glad (alt. take“ (#SC 262).
And that is it. That’s all I could find in numerous discographies and by cross-referencing album tracklists and catalogue numbers, taking into consideration lots of conflicting info (some caused by typos and simple mistakes). Some of this may be double, but until I have all this stuff, I won’t know.
Oh, and the Wolfe/Lornell-discography mentions two more tracks being on the LPs „CIC 23“, „Mauros Lp 11“, „LBCCL LP 3840“. I could find no information on these labels, let alone the LPs. Let me know if you know what’s going with these.
All that said, the documented Lead Belly tracks that never have seen the light of day are in the dozens. I’ll make a Lead Belly discography list soon where I cross-reference all the discographical information available to me. Ah, what fun!
Anyway, with no little amount of satisfaction:
Lead Belly’s complete recordings
Lived 1915–1959, recorded 1933–1959.
Well, this one was a pain to research, all the more because it starts out extremely promising, only to crash burning into a heap of massive overlap, elusive outtakes, unavailable CDs and extremely rare, extremely expensive box sets. Let’s go.
It starts out easy. First thing you do is to acquire these ‘ere box sets:
Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia (1933-1944) (Legacy CXK 85470, 10 CDs, 230 tracks)
The Complete Commodore Recordings (1939–1944) (GRP CMD-2-401, 2 CDs, 45 tracks) spoiler: click to read
The Complete Decca Recordings (1944–1950) (GRP GRD2-601, 2 CDs, 50 tracks)
The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve: 1945-1959 (Verve 517 658-2, 10 CDs, 255 tracks, though lots of studio chatter and false starts etc.)
So far, so splendid. You now own 500 odd tracks which is a good two thirds of her entire output – and that’s counting alternate and live takes. By the way, all these boxes are readily available and come for a snuggly price (for what they are). If you want to do yourself a favour, stop here, because much like Lady Day’s liver in 1959, it all goes to shit from here.
For the remaining stuff, there potentially would be two massive box sets which are largely identical and contain most of what’s still missing. These are completely unavailable right now or go for about 300–400 (and last time I checked, 900 – if you can find them at all, that is):
Lady Day Box (Country: Italy?; Label: New Sound Planet; Series: Jazz Up Top Box; Status: M.I.A.) (20 LPs or 12 CDs)
Perfect Complete Collection (Country: Japan; Label: Sound Hills Records; SSCD8005/16; Status: Expensive) (12 CDs)
They seem to be identical, but as I said, they’re basically out of the picture. The only good news is that even they aren’t complete (and would create some overlap with above boxes). I’m just mentioning them here for objectivity, but the way to go is different and more tedious.
Let’s dive into the actual recommendation. First a disclaimer: I usually consider availability when compiling these lists – since I want to get the stuff myself. There is a huge „Masters of Jazz“-Series for Billie Holiday, obviously put out by two French labels (Média 7 and Kangarou), professionally collecting hitherto missing tracks. I rely heavily on these volumes in my list, because they would be the smartest buy, if they were available. Some are, some aren’t, it depends on the secondhand market. Either way, they usually are replaceable by getting several other discs which multiplies any effort. In the following, sometimes I remark on this, sometimes I don’t.
So anyway, here’s the most reasonable approach I could come up with.
We start from the top, rounding up big collections and mentioning missing tracks in the end.
Ok, so continue with:
Rare Live Recordings 1934 – 1959 (ESP 4039, 5 CDs, 129 tracks). Currently going at 50-250, this is already a big expense. If you get everything else on this list, this adds only 15 tracks. But if you want those 15 additional tracks, this is your cleanest (and „cheapest“) shot.
Banned From New York City – Live 1948-1957 (Uptown UPCD 2781/2782, 2 CDs). With 18 additional unique tracks (if you only buy the things on this list), it’s one of the more potent „clean-up“-buys.
Billie Holiday – Vol. 16 – 1946-1948 (Masters of Jazz, MJCD 184). Features 4 tracks unique to this. The elusive „Masters of Jazz“-series varies greatly in price between 10 to 200.
Billie Holiday – Vol. 17 – 1949 (Masters of Jazz MJCD 202). With 8 additional absolutely unique tracks, an important species of the Masters of Jazz-Series. It’s hilarious how the single CDs on the second-hand-market of this series vary between being thrown away and costing hundreds – depending whether the seller knows what’s up.
Billie Holiday – Vol. 18 – 1949–1950 (Master of Jazz-Series, Kangarou Label, KBF 1318). 6 additional unique tracks. But seriously, good luck finding these.
Billie Holiday – Vol. 19 – 1951 (Master of Jazz, KBF 1319), 20 unique additional tracks, totally elusive. You can replace this album buy getting these:
The Complete 1951 Storyville Club Sessions (feat. Stan Getz, Fresh Sound Records CD 151). You need to get this one anyway. If you now get The Complete 1945 – 1951 Studio Recordings Master Takes Vol.2 1949-1951 (BlueMoon 1045) and Lady Day Live (Collector’s Choice Music, B0002LO7DS), you have replaced KBF 1319 and got two additional tracks from FSR151).
Billie Holiday – Vol. 20 – 1952–1954 (Masters of Jazz, KBF 1320). 15 additional tracks. There’s also a way to replace this elusive CD with three slightly less elusive CDs, but I’m out of energy.
Billie Holiday – Vol. 21 – 1954–1955 (Masters Of Jazz, KBF 1322). Adds another 6 tracks to this list. 5 are replaceable with two other CDs not yet mentioned, but even then: 1 track is completely unique to this bugger.
Billie Holiday – Vol. 25 – 1957–1958 (Masters of Jazz, KBF 1325). Adds 9 tracks to the list, 3 of which are basically unique to this CD.
Lady in Satin (Legacy CK 65144, 1958). Any album-version with bonus tracks.
Billie Holiday – Vol. 27 – 1958 ‚Lady In Satin‘ (Masters of Jazz, KBF 1327). Any last outtake and false start from the Lady in Satin-album. Pretty unique stuff, but do you need this? Are you that person?
Billie Holiday – Vol. 26 – 1958–1959 (Masters of Jazz, KBF 1326). Adds 7 unique tracks to the list which could be replaced with two other compilations that are potentially more available.
Jazz Greats (split release with Charlie Parker. Black Label 8011). 7 unique tracks.
Lastly, we need to scratch together some scattered early tracks. This is already easier said than done. Keep in mind that some of these collections are hard to come by:
„I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm [alt take]“ (1957, Matrix 20507-1): You will find this one a number of releases, so pick one:
Complete 1936-1944 Alternates Vol. 1 1936-1938 (BlueMoon CD 1501), Complete Billie Holiday Alternates Vol. 1 1936-38 (King Jazz KJ 171 FS) or preferably Billie Holiday – Volume 2 – 1936-1937 (Masters of Jazz Series, MJCD 11).
„I’m Gonna Lock My Heart (And Throw Away the Key)“ (Dec 1939): Rare Live Cuts: Cafe Society (V/A-Comp, Document 1003)
„It’s the Same Old Story“ (1940) and „Let’s Do It“ (1941): Control Booth Series, Vol. 1 (1940-1941) (Jazz Unlimited 2014)
„The Man I Love“ (Dec 1940): A Fine Romance, Vol. 2 (Definitive 11102) or The Complete Billie Holiday / Lester Young (FA 154)
„Gloomy Sunday“ (1941) and „Until the Real Thing Comes Along“ (1942): The Complete Billie Holiday Alternates, Vol. 3: 1940/1942 (King Jazz KJ 173 FS)
„Trav’lin‘ Light“ (Apr 1943): Billie Holiday – Volume 12: 1942-1944 Complete Edition (Label: Masters of Jazz MJCD 114)
The Billie Holiday Set – A Midsummer Night’s Jazz At Stratford ’57 (BJH–308). Attention with this one: the 3 tracks that are unique to this are interviews from different years. So this might be a skip.
„Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me“ (1944) and „I’ll Be Seeing You“ (1944): Masters of Jazz: Billie Holiday, Vol.14 1944-1945 (Master of Jazz, MJCD 141). This baby from the elusive „Masters of Jazz“-Series went for 150, then 960 last time I looked. I’ll share a secret with you: Collectors are dupes. Discographies are lists made by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
As a reference, I mostly used Tom Lord’s fishy jazz discography and this brand-new website: https://www.billieholiday.be/album/
Check out this project which went online just before I started to make this list. It is an awesome website, it is nothing short of stunning. It gives you all the minute information you might want: Which sessions do exist? On what albums can I get them? Which album has how many percent of a session? And so on. But the site doesn’t do one thing: Give you the quickest way to a comprehensive collection, so here you go.
Billie Holiday’s complete recordings
Bumble Bee Slim
Lived 1905–1968, recorded 1934–1962.
There is a 9-part Document series starting with
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order Vol. 1: c. October 1931 to 23 March 1934 (DOCD-5261)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2: (1934) (DOCD-5262)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3: (1934-1935) (DOCD-5263)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4: (1935) (DOCD-5264)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5: (1935-1936) (DOCD-5265)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 6: (1936) (DOCD-5266)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 7: (1936-1937) (DOCD-5267)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 8: (1937-1951) (DOCD-5268)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 9: (1934-1951) (DOCD-5570)
The last one is a clean-up compilation of mostly unissued and alternate stuff.
and an additional album from 1962:
Back in Town! (Pacific Jazz PJ-54)
Despite his quite extensive catalogue, he’s not documented very well – several sources say he did record between 1951 and 1962, but the usual discographies don’t note it. But for what it’s worth:
Bumble Bee Slim’s complete recordings
Lived 1909–1947, recorded 1934–1941.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order (Wolf Records WBCD-003)
This Wolf Records compilation contains Bonds‘ 18 songs and all of Charlie Pickett’s 4 solo recordings.
Son Bonds‘ complete recordings
Lived 1909–1967, recorded 1937–40, 1948–1967.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, 1937-1940 (Wolf WBCD-002), as Robert Lee McCoy
Black Angel Blues (Red 29, 1948-1950, 1964), split with FOREST CITY JOE
Bricks in My Pillow (Delmark DD-711, 1951/52)
Prowling With the Nighthawk (DOCD-32-20-6, starts 1950, overlap but necessary for some tracks)
Masters of Modern Blues (Testament TCD 5010, 1964)
Live on Maxwell Street – 1964 (Rounder 2022, 1964)
And This Is Maxwell Street (Rooster R-2641, 1964)
Blues Southside Chicago (Decca LK 4748, V/A, 2 songs, 1964)
Down Home Slide (Testament CD 6009, V/A, 3 songs, 1964)
Down Home Harp (Testament CD 6011, V/A, 1 song, 1964)
Modern Chicago Blues (Testament TCD 5008, V/A, 1 song, 1964)
Mississippi Delta Blues: „Blow My Blues Away“ Vol. 1 (Arhoolie CD 401, V/A, 3 songs, 1967)
There is some overlap and a lot of songs scattered on V/A-compilations – but that’s them,
Robert Nighthawk’s complete recordings
Big Joe Turner
Lived 1911–1985, recorded 1938–1985.
John Hammond’s Spirituals to Swing 30th Anniversary Concert (1967) (Columbia G 30776, 1938, 2 earliest tracks! essential concert document)
All the Classic Hits: 1938-1952 (JSP 7709, 1938-1952, 5 CDs, 123 tracks) (1938–1952)
The Forties: Volume 1 (1940-1946) (Fabulous 149, creates overlap with above set, but does have at least half a dozen songs that are not on there)
The Forties: Volume 2 (1947-1949) (Fabulous 185, beware, all these tracks are on the JSP set)
Every Day in the Week: The Original American Decca Recordings (GRP 16212, 1941–1967, this contains a plethora of alternate takes not on the JSP-set for the period and contains at least four 1963/64 tracks otherwise unavailable)
Joe Turner – Chronogical Classics 1947-1948 (Classics 1094), lots of overlap, but contains „Riding Blues (Jockey Blues)“, „Playful Baby“, „Roll ‚Em Boys (I Got A Gal)“, „Kansas City Blues“
Blues for Dootsie (Ace 1115, label V/A, 3 additional 1948 tracks by Turner)
This, with only a handful of alternate takes missing on the big JSP-set, is his entire output until and including 1952.
Five Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles (Real Gone CD 200, about his entire output for Atlantic, 1951–1959, albums and singles)
Shout, Rattle and Roll (1952–1953, Proper PROPERBOX 89) (about half overlap, but the other half is his contains his other availabe 1953/54 recordings)
Big, Bad & Blue: The Big Joe Turner Anthology (Rhino R2 71550, gigantic overlap, but contains 5 (!) tracks that are only here, but are very badly documented. It’s either a scam or these really are rare tracks discovered late. They are: „Blues on Central Avenue“, „I’m a Lovin‘ Man“, „Honeydripper“, „Can’t Read Can’t Write Blues“, „Crawdad Hole“ [some special version, there are lots of others]).
Then some scattered things from the 1950s:
Blues Jubilee (rec. 1955, V/A, 3 tracks, Vogue LDM. 30220)
The Unissued Takes (1956, France, KC 108 – alternate takes from first album sessions)
Newport Jazz Festival 1958, July 3rd-6th, Volume III Blues In The Night (1958, V/A, 3 tracks, Phontastic CD 8815)
This is every last thing until 1960. There are some unissued recordings up until 1963, where things pick up again:
And from this point onwards (1965), there’s hardly a track to be found that Turner didn’t record a dozen times before. This makes it very difficult to track down if you go by discographies and track lists.
Big Joe Turner, Buck Clayton, Stuff Smith, Memphis Slim – I Giganti Del Jazz Vol. 17 (1965, V/A, I Giganti del Jazz LP 17)
Feel So Fine! (1965, with Buck Clayton, Black Lion 30145)
Other good collections (but redundant to above):
The Singles Collection 1950-1960 (Acrobat Music 3275, these are, in fact, all the Atlantic singles not on record 1950–1960)
Then, there are two hilariously elusive 4-Track-EPs on the Mexican Orfeon-label from 1966:
Presenting Big Joe Turner (Orfeon EP 533)
Presenting Big Joe Turner (Orfeon EP 550)
American Folk Blues Festival ’66 (1966, V/A, 2 tracks, Fontana TL 5389)
Up The Country! (1966, V/A, 2 tracks, Scout Sc-S3)
Look Out, Sam! (1966, V/A, 1 track, Scout Sc-2)
«Roll ‚Em Pete» (falsely named „Feeling Happy“ in some discographies – it’s a single side b/w Junior Wells, rec. 1967 in the GDR, Amiga 4 50 599)
Discographies note „Flip, Flop and Fly“ on CD „Hip-O CD 3224“ which I can’t locate, it’s got to be an AFBF-thing.
John Hammond’s Spirituals to Swing 30th Anniversary Concert (1967) (Columbia G 30776, 1967, V/A, 3 tracks, 1967)
Singing the Blues (Bluesway BLS 6006, 1967 album)
Night Time is the Right Time: The Ronn Records (1968, large overlap but some unique tracks, Fuel 2000 062008)
Then there’s evidently an obscure 1968-session on „Jewel CD 5059“, but I couldn’t locate that.
The Real Boss of the Blues (1969 album, BluesTime BTS-9002)
Boss Man of the Blues (issued 1973, LMI 1004, 2 tracks from 1969)
„Love Ain’t Nothing / 10-20-25-30“ (Kent 512, 1969 single)
Turns on the Blues (Kent KST-542, 1970 album)
Couldn’t locate „JAS 4005“, which supposedly contains 2 tracks
And this is it up until 1970. You’ll need to get the albums, live albums and the archival material after that, but I can’t help you since the discographies stop here. On the upside, it should be a bit more manageable. Happy hunting.
Big Joe Turner’s complete recordings until 1970
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Lived 1915–1973, recorded 1938–1969.
The Original Soul Sister (Proper Records PROPERBOX 51, 4 CDs, contains the three document discs of all her early work 1938–1947)
Now, apart from this box, there is a definite series of her work going forward in double discs, on the Frémeaux & Associés label. They’re not easy to get, but available. If you get above set, you need to start with Volume 3 (some overlap), and then continue until and including Volume 7:
Complete Sister Rosetta Tharpe / Intégrale Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Vol. 3: 1947–1951 (Frémeaux & Associés FA 1303)
Complete Sister Rosetta Tharpe / Intégrale Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Vol. 4: 1951–1953 (Frémeaux & Associés FA 1304)
Complete Sister Rosetta Tharpe / Intégrale Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Vol. 5: 1953–1957 (Frémeaux & Associés FA 1305)
Complete Sister Rosetta Tharpe / Intégrale Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Vol. 6: 1958–1959 (Frémeaux & Associés FA 1306)
Complete Sister Rosetta Tharpe / Intégrale Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Vol. 7: 1960–1961 (Frémeaux & Associés FA 1307)
Then you need to get:
Live in Paris, 1964 (France’s Concert FC 118, 1964)
Live at the Hot Club de France (BMG / Milan ML2 35624, 1966)
Famous Negro Spirituals and Gospel Songs (Guilde Internationale Du Disque SJS 1265, 1966)
Then there are some scattered 1969-tracks for a jazz-film soundtrack originally published in 1971 on two LPs, these where all gathered on Fremeaux on a double-CD:
L’aventure du jazz Vol. 1 & 2, la musique du film de Louis Panassié 1969–1972 (Frémeaux & Associés FA 5666, V/A, 7 tracks)
And, to come to a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion, her last output is only available on two LPs, which were later combined to a double plus here two very last recordings:
The Best Of Sister Rosetta Tharpe Singing And Playing 22 Of Her Greatest Hits (Savoy 7029) – This combines Precious Memories (Savoy MG14214) and Singing in My Soul-LP (Savoy MG14224), but then you’re still two tracks short in comparison to the combined LP.
Yeah, well, this is still pretty good, nice box, nice series. Alright.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s complete recordings
Big Maceo Merriweather
Lived 1905–1953, recorded 1941–1950.
There are two Document CDs, but they miss this or that track (and put them on their clean-up-compilations), so the way to go is probably the JSP double-disc with all of it:
Power Piano Player (JSP 4230)
Big Maceo Merriweather’s complete recordings
Robert Lockwood Jr.
Lived 1915–2006, recorded 1941–2006.
Mississippi Blues (1935-1951) (Wolf Records WBCD-005, V/A, contains earliest 1941 and 1951 singles)
Blues Is Killing Me (Juke Joint LP 1501, V/A, contains 1 song of 1951)
Sweet Home Chicago: The JOB Sessions 1951-1955 (P-Vine PCD-24051, with JOHNNY SHINES). There is a slightly less complete version: Johnny Shines & Robert Lockwood (Paula CD-14)
Sunnyland Slim and his Pals – The Classic Sides 1947-1953 (JSP, 4 more 1951 tracks by Lockwood, see under SUNNYLAND SLIM)
and from here, it’s the albums with one more shortcut. You start with 1973’s
Steady Rollin‘ Man (Delmark DD 630)
Then you get this double deal:
Complete Trix Recordings (Savoy Jazz 17312, contains 1974’s Contrasts (Trix 3307) and 1977’s …Does 12 (Trix 3317))
and it’s just the albums and live albums from here on out. Sorry!
The large gaps in his discography are there because he worked mostly as a sideman in the 1950s and did perform, but simply wasn’t a recording artist, in the 1960s.
So with only an approximation for his pre-album output:
Robert Lockwood Jr.’s complete recordings
Lived 1929–1967, recorded 1950–1967.
A bit tricky.
There are valiant archival label-oriented discs, for example.
His JOB recordings 1951-1954 (Flyright FLYCD 04, 21 tracks), The Parrot Sessions [Expanded Edition] (Re Records 545 450 598-2, 13 tracks), and (six songs overlapping with the latter), The Chronological J. B. Lenoir 1955–1956 (Classics Records 5184, 19 tracks).
These quite elegantly cover his singles output from 1950 to 1956 – okay.
There are other, extremely elusive (and incomplete) compilations I couldn’t check out, such as The Mojo: The JOB, Vee-Jay, and USA Recordings (P-Vine PCD-24161, 22 tracks). This Japanese CD additionally has the promo-single I Sing Um the Way I Feel / I Feel So Good which isn’t on any of the others.
The 1966-single Mojo Boogie / I Don’t Care What Nobody Say is on some random compilations, like Fine Blues (Official 6049) or The Topical Bluesman: From Korea to Vietnam (Blues Encore CD 52017).
It’s a bit frustrating really: There is no smart way to get all singles and all alternate takes without massive overlaps.
But anyway, most of these largely seem to have been replaced by this 2015-compilation:
I Wanna Play a Little While – The Complete Singles Collection 1950-1960 (Jasmine 809, double disc, 58 tracks).
This is a complete SINGLES collection, meaning it mostly has published sides. About three or four alternate takes available on the J.O.B. issue are missing. Still, this collection is the way to go.
Then there’s an archival live album:
Live in ’63(Varèse Sarabande 302 061 300 2, live 1963, archival, with Sunnyland Slim)
But most importantly, there is this absolutely essential, mind-blowing acoustic stuff:
Vietnam Blues: The Complete L+R Recordings (Evidence ECD 26068)
containing his two studio albums: Alabama Blues (Scout Sc-5, 1965) and Crusade (Polydor 24-4011, 1970, posthumous).
And that, give or take some alternate tracks, would be
J.B. Lenoir’s complete recordings
Lived 1929–1970, recorded 1952–1970
This starts out with a lot of scattered V/A-compilations and doesn’t become reasonable until about 1960. Well, well well.
Sings Blues 16 Selections – Every One a Pearl (CD CHARLY 245, 1960 compilation – four of the tracks are the earliest Earl sides, wrongly credited to John Lee Hooker. Sadly, quite the fitting introduction to the slide genius’s career…)
Earl Hooker and His Blues Guitar (Blue City Records, BCCD-1325) (incredibly elusive, very essential)
Messin‘ With the Kid (CD CHARLY 219, with Junior Wells, CD reissue contains Hooker tracks)
Blue Guitar: The Chief / Age / U.S.A. Sessions 1960-1963 (P-Vine PCD-24045, the first proper collection. Phew. This is the one to get for sure by the way.)
Simply the Best (MCA MCAD-11811, good compilation, contains tracks not on the above)
Rockin‘ the Blues [Rockin‘] (CD – Hot Productions #5502) (V/A-comp)
The Sun Blues Box: Blues, R&B and Gospel Music in Memphis (Bear Family BCD17310, V/A-comp)
The Sun Blues Archives Volume 1: Blue Guitar (Charly Records Ltd. – SUN 1060, Sun (9) – SUN 1060) (V/A-comp)
Chess Rhythm & Roll (Chess CHD4-9352, V/A-comp)
This is everything up to 1963!
From here, it’s basically his albums / compilation albums:
The Genius of Earl Hooker (Cuca KS-3400, 1964-67 album)
Play Your Guitar Mr. Hooker! (Black Top 0641093, 1964-67 compilation)
Two Bugs and a Roach (Arhoolie CD 324, 1969)
The Moon Is Rising (Arhoolie CD 468, 1968/69)
Earl Hooker, Little Walter & Muddy Waters: At Pepper’s Lounge, Chicago (Rarities No. 25, recorded at Pepper’s Lounge, Chicago on May 1, 1969)
Funk. Last of the Great Earl Hooker (Blues on Blues BOB 10002, 1972 )
Sweet Black Angel (Blue Thumb BTS 12, 1969)
Don’t Have to Worry (Bluesway BLS-6032, 1969)
Hooker and Steve (Arhoolie 1051, 1970)
American Folk Blues Festival ’69 (Scout – ScS-6, 1969, V/A-comp)
Now, some singles hadn’t been issued, some singles never made it on any LP or CD. But all you can reasonably find is here, it’s about 99,5% of his output as a frontman. Pretty neat, pretty neat. Pretty cool, pretty cool.
Earl Hooker’s complete recordings
Lived 1932–1971, recorded 1952–1971.
Next Time You See Me…And All The Hits – The Complete Singles 1952-1962 (Jasmine JASMCD 3057)
Junior’s Blues: The Duke Recordings, Vol. 1 (MCA Records, MCD10669, overlap, but more Duke sides)
Backtracking: The Duke Recordings, Vol. 2 (MCA Records, MCAD-11786, overlap, some more Duke sides)
Driving Wheel (DUKE DLP-76, 1962 album)
Sometimes Tomorrow My Broken Heart Will Die (Bluesway BLS-6066, 1966 session)
I’m So Satisfied: The Complete Mercury & Blue Rock Recordings (Mercury 314 558 549-2, 1966–68)
And from here it is the albums, starting with 1969’s
Blues Man (Minit LP 24024)
But beware: Several of his late 1960s/early -70s albums came out under two different titles! Just get one of each, preferably the one with the cooler cover art.
Surprisingly, Junior Parker’s Duke years (his most prolific label output) is neither neatly nor comprehensively collected. Several single sides seem not to have made it on any LP or CD, quite baffling:
MISSING: „Last night“ (1962 B-side)
„If You Don’t Love Me / I Can’t Forget About You“ (1962 single)
„I’m Gonna Stop“ (1963 B-Side)
„That’s Why I’m Always Crying“ (1964 B-Side)
„I’m in Love“ (1964 B-Side)
„Guess You Don’t Know (The Golden Rule)“ (1964 B-Side)
„Why Do You Make Me Cry“ (1965 side) „Walking The Floor Over You“ (1966 side)
Other than that,
Junior Parker’s complete recordings
Lived 1925–1976, recorded 1953–1976.
The Vee-Jay Years (Charly CD RED BOX 9)
This is the one, all his stuff from 1953–65. A bit pricy, but worth it, there is no better way.
From here, it’s the albums starting with 1967’s double feature / twofer:
The New Jimmy Reed Album / Soulin‘ (See for Miles SEECD 468)
There might be other double compilations, but I haven’t found any.
Jimmy Reed’s complete recordings
Lived 1935–2004, recorded 1956– ca. 2002.
I Can’t Quit You Baby: The Complete Cobra Sessions (P-Vine PCD-24038, 1956–58)
The alternate takes not issued above are available on these two LPs which do create some overlap:
The Other Takes 1956-58 (Flyright LP 562, 1956–958)
This One’s a Good ‚Un (Blue Horizon 7-63222, 1956–58)
And this wraps up the 1950s!
Door to Door (Chess 1538, 1960) – a compilation featuring all of Rush’s work for Chess – all six sides. The rest here is by Albert King. Same as So Many Roads: Charly Blues Masterworks Vol.2 (Charly CD BM 2).
He recorded a 1962 side for Duke: Homework / I Have to Laugh (Duke 356). You can find „Home work“ on V/A-comps such as I Pity the Fool: The Duke Records Story (One Day DAY3CD043), or the lesser Soul Shots, Vol. 7: Urban Blues (Rhino R1 70043), same as A Chicago Blues Tour (Big Chicago BCR 002). „I Have to Laugh“ is supposed to be on some Japanese collection that I couldn’t locate. Hm.
Then there are some important 1965-sides for Duke/Vanguard which you can find on this neat V/A-comp:
Chicago / The Blues / Today! (Vanguard VSD 79216/7/8, 1965).
Live at the Chicago Blues Festival (Intermedia QS 5003, 1966) offers 4 songs recorded live with Little Walter.
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 (Hip-O / B0001030-02) is the first of three American Folk Blues Festival comps from 1966 featuring Otis Rush (1 song)
American Folk Blues Festival ’66 (Fontana TL 5389) is the second (one, two songs if you coun’t the Sykes-credited „My Own Fault“)
American Folk Blues Festival 66: 2 (Amiga 8 55 126) is the third one (one song)
Aaaaand that’s his spotty, disjointed 1950s and 1960s output before he all of a sudden conquered the 1970s as an album artist, starting with 1969’s Mourning in the Morning (Cotillion SD 9006). Get the (studio and live) albums from here on out.
He has recorded little and only on single occasion in his older years now due to sickness. The last recording I’m aware of is on Hey Bo Diddley: A Tribute! (Evidence ECD 26124-2, 2002)
But other than the possible late elusive one-off-track:
Otis Rush’s complete recordings
Lived 1937–1969, recorded 1957–1969.
Out of Bad Luck: The Cobra, Chief & Crash Sessions 1957-1966 (P-Vine PCD-24062) There are similar collection for the period, but this is by far the most complete.
The Late Great Magic Sam (Evidence ECD 26070-2, 1963/64 Scout sides)
Magic Sam Live: At the Ann Arbor Blues Festival (1969) and the Alex Club in Chicago (1963-4) (Delmark DE-645, live 1963/64 and 1969)
Sweet Home Chicago (Delmark DD-618, V/A comp, 1966, 4 tracks)
Rockin‘ Wild in Chicago (Delmark DG 765, live 1963–68)
Magic Touch (Black Top CD BT-1085, live 1966?)
The Magic Sam Legacy [CD] (Delmark DD-651, live 1967/68)
Give Me Time (Delmark DD-654, 1968 sessions)
West Side Soul (Delmark 615, his 1968 album)
Black Magic (Delmark 620, his 1969 album)
Live at the Avant Garde (Delmark 833, live 1968)
Live 1969: Raw Blues! (RockBeatsRecords ROC-CD-3110 or Floating World FLOATM 6151, live 1969)
and the 1969 single I’ll Pay You Back / Sam’s Funck (Minit 32070, 1969) is nowhere to be found.
and this cuts it, unless some single live tracks resurface on V/A-compilations.
Magic Sam’s complete recordings
Lived 1900–1976, recorded 1959 and 1961.
She recorded with –> SCRAPPER BLACKWELL. See there for all her recordings.
Mississippi Fred McDowell
Lived 1904–1972, recorded 1959–1971.
Downhome Blues 1959 (JSP 4227, complete 1959 sessions)!
Mississippi Fred McDowell (Rounder CD 2138, complete 1962 sessions)!
My Home Is in the Delta (Testament TCD 5019, 1963/64 Testament recordings)
You Gotta Move (Arhoolie CD 304, 1964)
Good Morning Little School Girl (Arhoolie CD 424, collects some scattered 1964 Arhoolie tracks, creates minor overlap)
Vol. 2 (Arhoolie F 1027, LP, 1964/65)
Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning (Arhoolie 1068, not all of these 1964-69 Arhoolie tracks seem to have been reissued on CD…)
The Best of Mississippi Fred McDowell (1965–?) (Arhoolie CD 501, this creates overlap, but at least two 1965 tracks only appear here)
Fred McDowell and His Blues Boys (Arhoolie 1046, major overlap, but 1965’s „Big Stars Falling“ seems to only appear here)
Mississippi Fred McDowell: Mississippi Blues (Orbis BLU NC 045, 1965)
Amazing Grace (Testament 5004, 1966)
Long Way From Home (OBC CD-535-2, 1966 album)
Eight Years Ramblin’… (Revival 1001) & Mama Says I’m Crazy (Fat Possum 80364) (same 1967 session LP and CD, but both have tracks that the other has not…)
Levee Camp Blues (Testament CD 6007, 1968, 2 1966 bonus tracks)
This Ain’t No Rock n‘ Roll (Arhoolie CD 441, 1968/69 Arhoolie sessions!)
When I Lay My Burden Down (Biographie BLP-12017, 1969 Biograph session, with FURRY LEWIS)
In London: Volume One (Transatlantic 194, 1969)
In London: Volume Two (Transatlantic 203, 1969)
Live at the Mayfair Hotel (Infinite Zero 9 43025-2, 1969 complete at the Mayfair)
I Do Not Play No Rock ’n‘ Roll: The Complete Sessions (Capitol 7243 8 33919 2 9, 1969)
Live at the Gaslight (Grapeshot Media GRR 1001, this is the complete Live in New York 1971 concert)
The Blues at Newport: 1964 – Part 1 (Vanguard 9180, 4 tracks)
Traditional Music At Newport 1964 Part 1 (Vanguard 79182, 2 song-medley)
Newport Folk Festival: 1964 – Evening Concerts Vol. 3 (Vanguard 9186, 1 track)
American Folk Blues Festival ’65 (L+R Records 42025, 1 track)
Lost Blues Tapes Vol. 1 – American Folk Blues Festival 1963-65 (ACT 6000-2, 1 track)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 (HIP-O B0001030-02, 1 track)
Bottleneck Blues (Testament TCD-5021, 2 tracks)
Down Home Slide (Testament CD 60092, tracks)
Mississippi Delta Blues Jam in Memphis, Vol. 1 (Arhoolie 385, 5 tracks)
John Vincent presents Genuine Mississippi Blues (Westside WESM 579, 2 tracks)
Honest Tom Pomposello (Oblivion OD-6, by Tom Pomposello, 1 track guest vocals 1971)
Couldn’t locate: „Goin‘ Down to the Races“ (New World 252)
Well, how much more tedious can it get? Fortunately, some of these are compilations that collect whole sessions for a label, or a complete live session (that was scattered on several LPs and CDs before). But still, what a mess. Anyway, the master himself, Fred McDowell!! Yes!
Mississippi Fred McDowell’s complete recordings
Lived 1895–1976, recorded 1960–1973
This is a peculiar case. I thought this would be a pretty straightforward affair. Recorded by Arhoolie for most of his output, you’d think there’d be comprehensive CD-compilations. The truth is, though, that there are numerous LPs that were never reissued as CDs, or, somehow even worse, only partly, and none of the CD-compilations is anywhere near comprehensive.
Also, Lipscomb’s sessions are quite well documented on paper, but he always recorded way too much for the LP-format. Meaning, a fourth or third of his known recordings are listed as «unissued». This means that you can’t get his sessions in a concise manner, either. Some of the missing material surfaces on later CDs. And with a lot of it in the vaults, you never know when there’ll be new stuff.
But the following is the best we can do:
Texas Sharecropper and Songster (Arhoolie F1001 LP – beware, the available CD reissues lack two songs available nowhere else)
Captain, Captain! (Arhoolie CD 465, 1960/1966)
Trouble in Mind (Rhino RHM2 7829, 1961)
Texas Songster, Vol. 2: You Got to Reap What You Sow (Arhoolie CD 398, 1964)
Live! at The Cabale (Arhoolie CD 482, 1964)
You’ll Never Find Another Man Like Mance (Arhoolie CD 1077, 1964)
Mance Lipscomb Vol. 3: Texas Songster in a Live Performance (Arhoolie F1026, 1964)
Vol. 4 (Arhoolie F1033, 1964)
So Different Blues (Collectables 5289, 1965 sessions)
Clifton Chenier, Mance Lipscomb, Lightning Hopkins – Live! At the 1966 Berkeley Blues Festival (Arhoolie CD 484, extended version of The 2nd Annual Berkeley Blues Festival Concert & Dance [Arhoolie F 1030], 1966)
Mance Lipscomb Volume 5 (Arhoolie 1049, 1969)
Volume 6 (Arhoolie 1069, 1973)
A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 2 (1960, V/A, 1 song, 77-Records LA 12/3)
Various unidentified Texas, New York and British Artists – The Unexpurgated Folk Songs Of Men (Arhoolie 4006, ufsom 1 or Raglan LP 51, V/A, 2 songs, 1960. Seems super-obscure)
Blues ’n Trouble (Arhoolie F1006, V/A, LP, 1 song 1960)
Conversation With The Blues. A Documentary of Field Recordings by Paul Oliver (Decca LK 4664, V/A, LP, 2 songs 1960)
Texas Blues: Volume 2 (Arhoolie F 1017, V/A, 1 song, 1964)
Back Against The Wall – The Texas Country Bluesmen (Collectables 5254, V/A, 2 songs, 1965)
Old Original Spiritual Blues (Collectables 5564, V/A, 1 song)
Blues With a Feeling: Newport Folk Festival Classics (Vanguard VCD2-77005, V/A, 3 songs)
Ruff Stuff: The Roots of Texas Blues Guitar (Catfish ctf1003, V/A, 3 songs)
With lots of unissued stuff that might surface some day, and lots of stuff that never made it onto CD… these are, as far as I can tell and as availability goes
Mance Lipscomb’s complete recordings
More to come.