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 an excellent discography for reference on a site called „The Harlem Fuss“ which is no longer active (and that didn’t feature credits, so I don’t know whom to name here). Fortunately I saved the Pdf, but THIS IS WHY WE NEED MATERIAL ARCHIVES FOLKS.
I found some inconsistencies, but don’t be alarmed: If anything, there are more things on my 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 (Archeophone / ARCH 6006)
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 → Johnny 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
birth name Elizabeth Mary Landreaux
Lived 1895–1963, recorded 1922–1956
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1922-23) (DOCD-5458)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1923-28) (DOCD-5459)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928-39) (DOCD-5460)
Classic Blues Jazz & Vaudeville Singers: Vol. 3 (1922 – 1927) (DOCD-5626, 1 alternate take from the 1920s)
Vocal Blues & Jazz, Vol. 2: 1921-1938 (DOCD-1012, V/A, contains at least one additional song not on the above)
Lizzie Miles (American Music / American Recordings AMCD 73, 1951-1952)
Jazzin‘ the Blues: The Remaining Titles of Ada Brown, Ruby Smith, Alberta Price, Chippie Hill, Lizzie Miles (1943-1952) (DOCD-1019, V/A, 1952. This includes the five tracks she sings on Sharkey Bonano’s A Night in Old New Orleans: Recorded in the Vieux Carre! (Capitol T 792), as well as the one track on Sharkey’s Midnight on Bourbon Street (Capitol T 367) – if you get these two LPs, you have the all six tracks represented on DOCD-1019: Jazzin‘ the Blues. So it’s shortcut vs. LP-integrity.
Jazzin‘ the Blues, Vol. 5 (1930-1953) (DOCD-5666, V/A, 1 song from 1953 „Too Slow Blues“)
Live At Club Hangover (DC 12 008, 1953, by George Lewis) – she sings some numbers here.
Clambake on Bourbon St (Cook 11815, 1954/55, V/A)
Moans & Blues (Cook 1182, 1956)
Hot Songs My Mother Taught Me (Cook 1183, 1956)
Torchy Lullabies My Mother Sang Me (Cook 1184, 1956)
Bourbon Street (Verve MGV 1009, 1956, with Bob Scobey)
The Great Bob Scobey and His Frisco Band, Volume 1 (Jansco JLPS 6250, 1956, credited to Bob Scobey, 2 songs with Lizzie Miles)
The Great Bob Scobey and His Frisco Band, Volume 2 (Jansco JLPS 6252, 1956, credited to Bob Scobey)
Looks good to me.
Lizzie Miles‘ 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
Living dates unknown, recorded 1922–1923
Williams recorded 16 sides. They’re all here (along with the complete recordings by Edna Winston)
Complete Recorded Works (1922-1927) (DOCD-5523)
Leona Williams‘ 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 1888 or 1896–1967, recorded 1923–1929, 1938–1940, 1961.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1 (1923) (DOCD-5322)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 2 (1924-1925) (DOCD-5323)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 3 (1925-1927) (DOCD-5324)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 4 (1927-1938) (DOCD-5325)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 5 (1939-1940) (DOCD-5651)
Blues for Rampart Street (Riverside RLP 374, 1961)
Ida Cox’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 1897–1948, recorded 1923–1935.
birth name Lucille Anderson, aka Bessie Jackson
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 1, June 1923 to March 1930 (DOCD-6036)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 2, March 1930 to 20 July 1933 (DOCD-6037)
Lucille Bogan Complete Recorded Works: Vol. 3, 1934-1935 (DOCD-6038)
She has speech-appearances on some single Walter Roland’s records, so check his discography for that.
Otherwise an easy fix for a mighty singer.
Lucille Bogan’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 Records B0001030-02, 1966, V/A, 1 track)
American Folk Blues Festival ’66 (Fontana TL 5389, 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
Fannie May Goosby
Born 1902, date of death unkown, but after 1934. Recorded 1923–1928.
All her eleven recorded sides are on this surprisingly important Document-compilation:
Female Blues Singers, Volume 7: G/H (1922-29) (DOCD-5511)
Fannie May Goosby’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. 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.
As this box has tracks missing from the Document-series since they surfaced later 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)
Just for reference, this are the three Document-CDs. 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.
Papa Charlie Jackson’s complete recordings in one place, plus Bo Weavil Jackson’s entire catalogue.
Clifford Hayes & the Dixieland Jug Blowers
Lived 1893–1941, recorded 1924–1931.
Hayes was the center of a loose Louisville Jug Band outfit playing under different names and for different main acts – so watch out, there’s a whole lot of stuff coming with this besides Hayes‘ „solo“ work. Nice! The Document (RST Records) collection will do the trick.
Clifford Hayes & The Louisville Jug Bands (JPCD-1501-2, Vol. 1, 1924–1926). Contains recordings by the formations SARA MARTIN and her Jug Band, Whistler and his Jug Band, Old Southern Jug Band, Clifford’s Louisville Jugband, Dixieland Jug Blowers.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 2 (1926-1927) (JPCD-1502-2, Vol. 2, 1926–1927). Contains recordings by the formations Dixieland Jug Blowers, Earl McDonald’s Original Louisville Jug Band, Whistler and his Jug Band
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 3 (1927-1929) (JPCD-1503-2, Vol. 3, 1927–1929). Contains recordings by the formations Dixieland Jug Blowers, Clifford Hayes‘ Louisville Stompers,
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 4, 1929–1931, Clifford Hayes & Louisville Jug Bands Vol 4 1929 – 1931 (JPCD-1504-2, Vol. 4, 1929–1931). Contains Clifford Hayes‘ Louisville Stompers, Kentucky Jazz Babies, Phillips‘ Louisville Jug Band, Kentucky Jug Band, Kid Coley, Whistler and his Jug Band, Jimmie Rodgers and the Louisville Jug Band, Ben Ferguson and the Louisville Jug Band, John Harris and the Louisville Jug Band.
Clifford Hayes’ complete recordings
Living dates unknown, recorded 1924–1929
birth name Waymon Henry.
16 sides are credited to Sloppy Henry as a solo artist, but he also recorded as a sideman and in a crowd with other people – so although there used to be an LP collecting just his body of work, his recordings nowadays are scattered over several Document-compilations, grouping him in with his musical peers. The single LP is hardly available, but it’s this one:
Sloppy Henry: Complete Recordings In Chronological Order (1924-1929) (RST records BD 2063, 1924–1929)
The way to go today though is this one. Sure, more tedious, but these compilations have a high historical and contextual value:
Eddie Heywood & The Blues Singers 1923 – 1926 (DOCD-5380, V/A, 8 tracks, 1924–1926)
Complete Recordings in Chronological Order Vol. 1 (Document MBCD 2004, credited to Peg Leg Howell / Eddie Anthony, 2 tracks, 1928)
Complete Recordings in Chronological Order Vol.2 (Document MBCD 2005, credited to Peg Leg Howell / Eddie Anthony, 2 tracks, 1928)
Male Blues of the Twenties Volume 1 (1922-1930) (DOCD-5482, V/A, 4 tracks, 1929)
Sloppy Henry’s complete recordings
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:
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 one 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!
Rev. Edward W. Clayborn
Living dates unknown, recorded 1926–1930.
Complete Recorded Works 1926-1928 in Chronological Order (DOCD-5155)
plus one alternate take are on DOCD-5154
Rev. Edward W. Clayborn’s complete recordings
Living dates unknown, recorded 1926–1927
Winston recorded 8 sides (4 singles). They are on this Document-release, shared with –>Leona Williams:
Complete Recorded Works (1922-1927) (DOCD-5523)
Edna Winston’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 1901–1969, recorded (1927–)1928 and 1966.
aka Rubin Lacy, Reubin Lacy, Rubin Lacey, Rube Lacey
Rube Lacy was reportedly an important figure in early Delta blues. Two tracks from 1928 survive, they’re both on the familiar and essential Document-compilation:
Son House & the Great Delta Blues Singers (1928-1930) (DOCD-5002, 1928)
He quit the music scene and became Reverend, so there are at least two gospel-tracks with Lacy credited on this later LP:
Sorrow Come Pass Me Around: A Survey of Rural Black Religious Music (Advent 2085, V/A, 1974. 2 tracks with Lacy, recorded 1966)
These should be just about Lacy’s available recordings – a quantity that’s nowhere near the influence he had on delta blues:
Rube Lacy’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
aka Sluefoot Joe, Barefoot Bill
Lived 1905–1960, 65 or 66, recorded 1927–1930.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order (1927-1930) (DOCD-5090)
Ed Bell’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.
Rev. Johnny Blakey
Unknown living dates, recorded 1927–1928.
„Son of Thunder“: Complete Recordings in Chronological Order (1927-1928) (DOCD-5363, 1927-1928).
This also contains all recordings by Rev. M. L. Gipson.
It misses two of Blakey’s musical tracks (he recorded sermons with or without singing), „The God That Did Not Answer“ and „Christ Conquered the Devil“. You can find these two tracks on:
Preachers And Congregations Volume 1 (1927-1938) (DOCD-5529) (two tracks)
Then there are four sides of short non-musical sermons. Different ways to get them, but I personally found them here:
Spreading the Word: Early Gospel Recordings (JSP 7733)
Rev. Johnny Blakey’s complete recordings
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
Thomas A. Dorsey
aka Georgia Tom
Lived 1899–1993, recorded blues 1928–1939 (issued takes only until 1934)
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order Volume 1: September 1928 to 5 Febuary 1930 (BDCD-6021, 1928–1930}
Complete Recorded Works, Vol.2 (BDCD-6022, 1930–1934)
V/A- releases (these are just alternate takes):
Too Late Too Late Blues – Newly Discovered Titles and Alternate Takes – Volume 1 (1926-1944) (DOCD-5150, 2 tracks)
Too Late Too Late Vol 4 (1892 – 1937) (DOCD-5321, 1 track)
Jazz & Blues Piano, Vol. 2 (1924-1947)(DOCD-5662, 2 track)
When he got religion and left the blues behind, Dorsey would of course become the ‚father of gosel music‘, writing thousands of songs. I’m not going to collect his gospel output here. The collections above cover his blues output.
Thomas A. Dorsey’s complete blues 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
aka Ishman Bracey, Ishmael Adams
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.
aka Slim Gordon
Lived 1906–1962, recorded 1928–1949.
The Document-series is great, partly because they pair Weaver with peers and cohorts across several collections. But so does the JSP-set (with different people though – no Eddie Map here) and it just gives you the chronological run-down of his entire catalogue, including by his band The Georgia Browns.
Atlanta Blues (Big City Blues From the Heartland) (JSP 7754)
This set also includes the two Document-collection of –>Peg Leg Howell, but it’s the same: Some of the „extra“-artists there are here, some aren’t and vice versa – for me, it’s a straight toss-up between Document und JSP for these sets here.
Curley Weaver’s complete recordings
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.
The Hokum Boys were a loose collective (or rather just a moniker for different constellations) and started as the name for the backing band for people like Georgia Tom (Tom Dorsey), Tampa Red and Big Bill Broonzy (among others). While they did end up recording under their name as proper recording artists, their beginnings are slightly scattered across the discographies of others.
For starters, the first recordings associated with them were actually published under „The Hokum Boys“ – but on Document Records, these records appear on a Tampa Red-collection – simply because he was and remained more famous as a solo artist – while the Document series for the Hokum Boys leave out something like the first dozen of their records (to have them appear on related solo artists compilations). But here we go:
In Chronological Order, Volume 2 by Tampa Red (DOCD-5074)
Same goes for this:
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order Volume 1: September 1928 to 5 Febuary 1930 by Georgia Tom aka Thomas Dorsey (RST BDCD-6021)
Complete Recordings in Chronological Order: June to December 1929 (DOCD-5236) (one of their „proper“ collections)
All the Classic Sides 1928 – 1937 by Big Bill Broonzy (JSP 7718, huge JSP-collection, 2 tracks from 1930 by the Hokum Boys with Big Bill Broonzy leading)
The Complete (1935-1937) (DOCD-5237) by the Hokum Boys & Bob Robinson
The unrelated Hokum Trio (with Ikey Robinson) also occasionally used this name, but are not listed here.
The Hokum Boys‘ complete recordings
Lived 1890-1958, recorded solo 1929.
aka Henry „Son“ Sims
Henry Sims played the fiddle, famously for Charley Patton, and recorded four songs as a recording artist in 1929. They are on the familiar and essential –>Charley-Patton-compilation:
Complete Recordings 1929-1934 (JSP 7702, 1929)
Henry Sims‘ complete recordings
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 least until 1941, these Sleepy John Estes’ complete recordings
possible real name James Garfield Echols
lived c. 1902–c. 1959, recorded 1929.
Akers, whose real name is unknown, recorded just four sides in 1929 for Vocalion. But these recordings proved to be influential to the point of making him a household name of earliest country blues.
You can best find these recordings on the amazing Document-collection
Son House & the Great Delta Blues Singers (1928-1930) (DOCD-5002, 1928–1930) which you can also find listed under –>Son House
Garfield Akers‘ complete recordings
Blind Joe Reynolds
Lived 1900 or 1904–1968, recorded 1929–1930
aka Blind Willie Reynolds
Reynolds recorded four sides in 1929 as Blind Joe Reynolds and four sides – only two were issued – as Blind Willie Reynolds in 1930.
You get four sides (1929/1930) on this definite compilation featuring Son House and others:
Son House & the Great Delta Blues Singers (1928-1930) (DOCD-5002, 1929/1930)
and his remaining two 1929-sides on here:
Troubled Hearted Blues – Vintage Guitar Blues 1927 – 1944 (DOCD-32-20-4).
Although there are dozens of compilations containing one or two of his sides, this is the most concise and best way to snatch them. The latter DOCD-compilation is the only compilation I found featuring both remaining 1929-sides.
Blind Joe Reynolds‘ 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 681 510 ZL, 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 largely 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)
Several never before issued (and missing above) tracks from around 1942 are here:
Blue 88s (Hi Horse 19001, 1942, V/A)
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 (Brunswick LP 009 012, 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.
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1929-1930) (DOCD-5187)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1930-1937) (DOCD-5188)
Leothus «Lee» Green’s complete recordings
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.
„And he created an enduring body of American music, for he personally inspired just about every Delta bluesman of consequence, and some blueswomen as well. Along with Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, and a few others who created not just styles but dynasties, he is among the most important musicians twentieth century America has produced. Yet we know very little about his formative years, and practically nothing about how he learned his art.“(Palmer, Robert: Deep Blues. New York: Penguin Books 1982, 57).
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).
Living dates unknown, recorded 1929.
Two sides are known. They’re on the familiar Son House-compilation:
Son House & the Great Delta Blues Singers (1928-1930) (DOCD-5002, 1929)
This compilation is a definite, definite pick, as it includes numerous other mythical takes by mythical artists.
Kid Bailey’s complete recordings
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 1900–1952, recorded 1930 and 1941.
Brown recorded four sides in 1930, two of which survive. Get them on the familiar Son House-compilation:
Son House & the Great Delta Blues Singers (1928-1930) (DOCD-5002, 1930)
One additional number from 1941 is available on numerous compilations. Any will do, I’d go with this one:
Legendary Sessions – Delta Style (RSE-5, 1941. Creates overlap with other essential compilation, but has at least three tracks best available here).
Brown is featured on numerous recordings with Son House and Charley Patton – so the story doesn’t end quite there. But his three solo recordings alone put him in the pantheon. That’s the blues, ladies and gentlemen!
Willie Brown’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)
When the Levee Breaks: Mississippi Blues: Rare Cuts, 1926-1941 (JSP CD 7781, 1930, contains two tracks that were known but lost until 2005. Both also available on The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: Super Rarities & Unissued Gems of the 1920s and ’30s (Yazoo 2202)
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
Living dates unknown, recorded 1930.
Louise Johnson recorded 4 (pretty classic) sides in 1930. They’re all on the essential and definite
Complete Recordings 1929-1934 (JSP 7702), a compilation of all of –>Charley Patton’s works and some of his peers.
Louise Johnson’s complete recordings
Living dates unknown, recorded 1930.
aka Peg Leg Thompkins, James Thompkins
Thompkins recorded two sides, one of which survives – the absolute classic „Bedside Blues“, issued 1931. You get it on the familiar compilation featuring Son House:
Son House & the Great Delta Blues Singers (1928-1930) (DOCD-5002, 1930)
Jim Thompkins‘ 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 Chatmon and Walter Vinson) and a „reunion“ album, after Chatmon had started recording again in the 1960s.
The Mississippi Sheiks’ 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 1902 or 1903–1972, recorded 1933–1935
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1933) (DOCD-5144, 1933)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1934-1935) (DOCD-5145, 1934–1935)
Too Late, Too Late: Volume 12 · 1917-1948 (DOCD-5659, contains one alternate take of „Frisco Blues“, 1933)
He worked a lot with –>Lucille Bogan, so see there.
Walter Roland’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
Lived 1902–1975, recorded solo 1934.
Birth name Bertha Lee Pate
Bertha Lee has three – very good – sides credited to her as a recording artist and she sang on some of Charley Patton’s recordings (her husband). Anyway, they are all on the familiar Charley Patton box set that you should own by now:
Complete Recordings 1929-1934 (JSP Records JSP7702, 5 CDs)
Well, this was easy.
Bertha Lee’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
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
Cripple Clarence Lofton
Lived 1887, 1896 or -97 –1957, recorded 1935–1943.
Volume 1: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order (1935-1939) (Document BDCD-6006)
Volume 2: Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order (1939-1943) (RST BDCD-6007)
Cripple Clarence Lofton’s complete recordings
Reverend Gary Davis
Lived 1896–1972, recorded 1935–1971.
Meet You at the Station: The Vintage Recordings (1935-1949) (DOCD-5060), same as Complete Recorded Works 1935-1949 in Chronological Order (both on Document)
If I Had My Way: Early Home Recordings (Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40123, 1953)
The Sun of Our Lives: Solos, Songs, a Sermon, 1955-1957 (World Arbiter 2005, 1955-57)
Demons and Angels: The Ultimate Collection (Shanachie 6117, 1956–1966)
American Street Songs (OBC CD 524-2, 1956, split release with Pink Anderson)
Pure Religion and Bad Company (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings SFW 40035, 1957 album)
Blues & Ragtime (Shanachie 97024, 1962–1966)
At The Sign Of The Sun (Heritage CD 03, 1962)
At Home and Church 1962 – 1967 (Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop – SGGW 130/1/2, 3 CDs, 1962–67)
The Guitar & Banjo of Reverend Gary Davis (Prestige Folklore FL 14033, 1964)
Lo‘ I Be With You Always (Sonet / Kicking Mule Records SNKD 1, 1962–68)
O, Glory: The Apostolic Studio Sessions (Edsel EDCD 482, 1969)
Sun Is Going Down (Smithsonian Folkways FS 3542, 1969)
From Blues to Gospel (Biograph BCD 123, 1971)
In Concert (Kicking Mule No. 101, 1962)
An Afternoon With Rev. Gary Davis at Allegheny College, Meadville, P.A. 1964 (DOCD-5693, 1964)
Reverend Gary Davis Live (1964, Gospel Heritage CD 02)
Blind Gary Davis (Document DLP 521, prob. 1967, live in Toronto)
The Reverend Gary Davis at Newport (Vanguard SRV-73008, live 1965)
Live & Kickin‘ (Just a Memory JAM 9133-2, 1967)
Bring Your Money, Honey! (Fontana 886 505 JCY, 1968)
Delia – Late Concert Recordings 1970-71 (American Activities UACD103, 1970–71)
Philadelphia Folk Festival:The Prestige/Folklore Years, Vol. 4: Singing Out Loud (Prestige PRCD-9904-2, V/A, 3 tracks)
Now, Davis recorded so extensively during the 1960s folk revival that there really is no telling how many more sessions and live recordings might crop up. Also, the phase between 1949 and 1955 isn’t documented very well.
But this is as good as I could do with the help of professional discographies and whatnot. His early work is about completely documented here, so that’s good.
By reasonable approximation
Reverend Gary Davis‘ complete recordings…?
Lived 1898–1947, recorded 1935–1942.
Complete Recorded Works (1935-1942) (DOCD-5179)
Doctor Clayton’s complete recordings
Big Joe Williams
Lived 1903–1982, recorded 1935–1951.
Skip over the two (incomplete) Document-CDs and go straight to this one:
Big Joe Williams and the Stars of Mississippi Blues (JSP 7719, 5 CDs, 126 tracks)
This features Williams‘ stuff as well as all of Tommy McClennan’s recordings – and some more records by other related blues performers. Well, well!
Big Joe Williams‘ complete recordings and more
Casey Bill Weldon
Lived 1909–ca. 1970, recorded 1935–1938.
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1935-1936) (DOCD-5217)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1936-1937) (DOCD-5218)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1937-1938) (DOCD-5219)
Casey Bill Weldon’s complete recordings unless this or that track surfaced somewhere else
real name Robert Clifford Brown.
Lived 1910–1966, recorded 1935–1949, 1953.
There are two- and three-disc compilations, but no box has all the stuff from the Document series:
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1935-1936) (DOCD-5171)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1937-1938) (DOCD-5172)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1938) (DOCD-5173)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1939-1940) (DOCD-5174)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5 (1940-1941) (DOCD-5175)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 6 (1941-1942) (DOCD-5176)
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 7 (1942-1949) (DOCD-5177)
Big Bill Broonzy and Washboard Sam (Chess LP-1468, 1953 [p. 1962], an additional album with –> Big Bill Broonzy)
Washboard Sam’s complete recordings
Lived 1905–after 1946, recorded 1936–1946 (probably)
The Document series about this elusive guy is our best bet:
Jimmie Gordon, Vol. 1: 1934-1936 (DOCD-5648)
Jimmie Gordon, Vol. 2: 1936-1938 (DOCD-5649)
Jimmie Gordon, Vol. 3: 1939-1946 (DOCD-5650)
Jimmie Gordon’s complete recordings
Black Boy Shine
birth name Harold Holiday
Lived 1908–1952, recorded 1936–1937.
Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: 1936-1937 (DOCD-5278, 1936-1937, with the all four sides by Black Ivory King
Unissued Test Pressings and Alternate Takes, 1934-1937 (DOCD-5465, 1937)cha
Black Boy Shine’s complete recordings
Lived 1911–1938, recorded 1936–1937.
The Complete Recordings (Legacy C2K 64916)
The surviving 29 songs that Johnson recorded in 41 takes, all of them on this double-disc. These are
Robert Johnson’s complete recordings
The Chatman Brothers
A rather random moniker for Lonnie Chatmon and Sam Chatmon for some sides they recorded for Bluebird.
They recorded 10 sides, 2 of which were lost. They’re all on the Document-CD for the
–>Mississippi Sheiks, so look there.
Also see under –>Sam Chatmon / Sam Chatman
The Document series will do the trick:
Hamfat Swing: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 1 (Apr – Nov 1936) (DOCD-5271)
Jam Jamboree: Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1936-1937) DOCD-5272)
Rampart & Gravier Blues: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 3 (Oct 1937 – Apr 1938) (DOCD-5273)
Oh Rider: Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1938-1939) (DOCD-5274)
Among the band members were the brothers Charlie McCoy and „Kansas Joe“ McCoy, so compare them for their other stuff.
The Harlem Hamfats‘ complete recordings
aka Babe Kyro Lemon Turner / Babe Kero Lemon Turner / Buck Turner
Lived 1905 or 1907–1972, recorded 1937, 1960.
I Am the Boss Card in Your Hand (Arhoolie CD 374, 1960, 1937). This collection allegedly contains all of his work: The two 1960-sessions, and the six 1937-tracks tacked onto the end.
It misses at least one track from the 1960-sessions, „Farther Along“, which was issued earlier on Arhoolie’s
Black Ace (Arhoolie F 1003, 1960). But it does have all the other tracks.
There are about four tracks from the 1960-sessions that apparently were never issued. Some discographies note them as being on the Arhoolie-collection (and nowhere else) – but they’re not there. Well, okay then!
He also did some film appearances (f.e. 1941, 1962) not listed here.
Black Ace’s / Babe Kyro Lemon Turner’s complete recordings
Lived 1909–1967, recorded 1937–40, 1948–1967.
The Robert Nighthawk Collection, 1937-52 (Acrobat ADDCD3225, contains Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, 1937-1940 (Wolf WBCD-002) as Robert Lee McCoy and also contains Prowling With the Nighthawk (DOCD-32-20-6, which starts 1950)
Black Angel Blues (Red 29, 1948-1950, 1964, huge overlap except for two songs), split with Forest City Joe
Bricks in My Pillow (Delmark DD-711, 1951/52, large overlap but has several alternate takes)
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 recordingsThe Robert Nighthawk Collection, 1937-52 (Acrobat ADDCD3225, contains Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, 1937-1940 (Wolf WBCD-002) as Robert Lee McCoy and also contains Prowling With the Nighthawk (DOCD-32-20-6, which starts 1950)
Black Angel Blues (Red 29, 1948-1950, 1964, huge overlap except for two songs), split with FOREST CITY JOE
Bricks in My Pillow (Delmark DD-711, 1951/52, large overlap but has several alternate takes)
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)
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
Lived 1911–1978, recorded solo 1937.
All his 4 solo sides are on the Wolf Records compilation of –>Son Bonds, so look there.
He was a sideman of Sleepy John Estes among others, but solo, these are
Charlie Pickett’s complete recordings
John Lee „Sonny Boy“ Williamson
aka Sonny Boy Williamson I, birth name John Lee Curtis Williamson
Lived 1914–1948, recorded 1937–1947.
The original Sonny Boy, and though there is a five disc Document series, the two JSP-boxes include about 75 tracks more from his circle where he was involved. Good stuff:
The Original Sonny Boy Williamson, Vol. 1 (JSP 7797)
The Later Years: 1939-1947 (JSP 77101)
Sonny Boy Williamson’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)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969 Volume 2 (Hip-O B0003224-02, 1967, V/A, 1 track)
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
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
Sonny Terry lived 1911–1986, recorded 1938–1986
Brownie McGhee lived 1915–1996, recorded 1940–1995(?)
They also recorded as seperate artists Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee of course, but I put their solo stuff here as well.
This is terrible to assemble. Their pre-folk-revival output is already large, and it isn’t collected nicely on concise sets – partly because lots of it went unissued, partly because some singles just never made it on any LP or even compilation. So already their available output between 1938 until 1958 (their first album) is going to be very spotty.
They both started recording solo for Folkways in the 1940s and -50s – there is no box collecting all this, so you would need to get all of those albums. They are legion. But there is a Folkways best-of for both of them.
So besides the Document-series for Terry, and McGhee’s entire pre-war solo output (available by itself, but included in one of the large sets below), what I list here are just the largest compilations. None of them are complete, but they add some of their early stuff that’s nowhere else and take part of their album-tracks until about 1960. After that you’ll have to just get the albums, and the myriad folk revival-live albums they recorded, and all the stuff with other artists the recorded, and and and.
I’ve got to say, this is the first and only discography so far where I simply gave up after looking at the available discographies in print and comparing it with the available compilations.
Complete Recordings 1938-1945 (DOCD-5230, Terry’s solo Document vol 1)
Complete Works in Chronological Order Vol. 2: 1944-1949 (DOCD-5657, Terry’s solo Document vol 2, misses „Greyhound Bus Station“ from Stinson LP 55)
Folkways anthology sampler:
The Folkway Years (1945-1959) (Smithsonian Folkways CD SF 40034, Brownie)
The Folkways Years 1944-63 ( Smithsonian Folkways 40033, Sonny), my review: spoiler: click to read
Country Blues Troubadours 1938-1948 (JSP 7721, 5 Cds) (contains the entire The Complete Brownie McGhee (Columbia 475700 2, Brownie’s pre-war solo for Okeh))
The Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee Story (PROPERBOX 193, 1938-1960, 4 CDs) major overlap, but contains about 50 tracks not on the above set
and if you must, get Whooping the Blues (Quadromania Jazz Edition) (Membran 222485-444, 4 CDs) (1958-1974) for some more scattered tracks, but we’re dealing with major overlap at this point.
From 1960 onwards, I know of no nice comprehensive collections.
maybe not even their essential recordings
– but this is all I’ve got if you want to cut corners and still have a lot of their music.
Blue Lu Barker
Lived 1913–1998, recorded 1938–1949, 1989.
1938-1939 (Classics 704)
The Chronogical Classics: Blue Lu Barker 1946-1949 (Classics 1130)
Live at New Orleans Jazz Festival (Orleans Records 2111, live 1989)
Blue Lu Barker’s complete recordings
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
Lived 1905–1961, recorded 1939–1942.
There’s a JSP-set Big Joe Williams and the Stars of Mississippi Blues ((JSP 7719, 5 CDs, 126 tracks, see under –>Big Joe Williams) which has also all of McClennan’s stuff and a lot more.
If you hate the idea of getting that set, there is Bluebird Recordings 1939-1942 (RCA 07863 67430 2) – nice double-disc (also better than the two Document discs).
Tommy McClennan’s complete recordings
John Henry Barbee
Lived 1905–1964, recorded 1938, 1963–1964.
His few early tracks are on this Document compilation:
Memphis Blues (1927-1938) (Document DOCD-5159, 1938, V/A)
His „proper“ 1960s collections here:
Blues Masters, Vol. 3: I Ain’t Gonna Pick No More Cotton (Storyville STCD 8003, 1964)
Blues Live! (Storyville STCD 8051, 1964, split release with Sleepy John Estes)
And his 1960s work on V/A compilation:
Down Home Slide (Testament 6009, 1963, V/A, 1 track)
Chicago Blues – Live at the Fickle Pickle (Flyright LP 549, 1963, V/A, 2 tracks)
Chicago Blues (Spivey 1003, 1964, V/A, 2 tracks)
Encore! for the Chicago Blues (Spivey LP 1009, 1964, V/A, 1 track)
American Folk Blues Festival ’64 (Fontana TL 5225 / Optimism LR CD-2024, V/A, 1 track)
John Henry Barbee’s complete recordings
Lived 1915–1977, recorded 1939-1964 with Ella Johnson
The Chronogical Classics: Buddy Johnson 1939-1942 (Classics 884)
The Chronogical Classics: Buddy Johnson 1942-1947 (Classics 1079)
The Chronogical Classics: Buddy Johnson 1947-1949 (Classics 1115)
The Chronogical Classics: Buddy Johnson 1950-1951 (Classics 1244)
Walk ‚Em: The Decca Sessions (Ace CDCHD 623, adds four 1952 songs, the rest is overlap)
Can’t locate 1952’s „The New Situation / Be Reasonable“ and „Just To Be Yours / Somehow, Somewhere“.
Buddy and Ella Johnson 1953-1964 (Bear Family BCD 15479 DH, 4 Cds, 104 tracks)
And that’s them.
Buddy Johnson’s complete recordings
Champion Jack Dupree
Lived 1908 (or 1909 or 1910)–1992, recorded 1940–1991.
Early Cuts 1940 -1953 (JSP 77120)
Walkin‘ the Blues: The Very Best of Champion Jack Dupree (Collectables CD-2874, rest of 1955)
These two sets collect everything (apart from about half a dozen tracks) until 1955 – really terrific, get this stuff.
The time he recorded for different labels between 1955 and 1960 is badly documented. These compilations below collects most of that material, but they do have major overlap:
Shake Baby Shake [The Essential Blue Archive] (Blue Label SPV 50812)
Shake Baby Shake (Detour 33-007, adds some unissued Groove & Viks Sides)
Piano Blues: New Orleans Barrelhouse 1960 (Magpie PYCD 53)
Champion of the Blues (Atlantic 8056, 1961 album)
This collects two of his best albums with a lot of bonus material, get this one for sure:
Two Classic Albums: Plus 40s & 50s Singles – Blues From the Gutter / Natural & Soulful Blues (Avid Roots AMSC1006, 1958/59)
The Women Blues of Champion Jack Dupree (Folkways FS 3825, 1961 LP)
From 1960 onwards, Dupree recorded for Storyville in Europe. Most of this material is available, but in the following years, those sessions were scattered throughout several albums, later compilations and several V/A-compilations – it’s really a great, astounding mess (the material is consistently good though). I left out several V/A-comps, but this is a bulk of his 1960s work. It is probably most sensible to get the CD-issues, they have the most in one place:
Blues Masters, Vol. 6 (Storyville STCD 8006)
Trouble, Trouble (Storyville SLP 145, 1961)
Of New Orleans (Storyville ST 21009, 1962)
The Blues of Champion Jack Dupree Vol.1 (Storyville STCD 8019)
The Blues of Champion Jack Dupree, Vol. 2 (Storyville STCD 8020)
Truckin‘ On Down (Storyville STCD 1829, 1960-63)
The Blues of Champion Jack Dupree (Storyville STCD 8031)
V/A-comp CDs with storyville material:
Barrelhouse Blues & Boogie Woogie, Vol. 1 (Storyville STCD 1830)
Barrelhouse Blues & Boogie Woogie, Vol. 2 (Storyville STCD 1844)
Barrelhouse Blues & Boogie Woogie, Vol. 3 (Storyville STCD 1845)
Storyville LPs with at least some songs not issued on the above CDs:
Papa Bue’s Viking Jazzband and Jack Dupree (Storyville SLP 150)
The Incredible Champion Jack Dupree (Sonet SNTF 614)
Portraits in Blues Vol. 5 (Storyville SLP 161)
The Best of the Blues (Storyville SLP 151)
Check out his entire Storyville-catalogue in this amazing document, which also tells you which LPs are equivalent to others etc.
(it contains minor errors, e.g. SLP 151 isn’t the same as ST 21009 – while SLP 193 is, though)
I Blueskvarter: 1964, Volume Three (Jefferson Records SBACD 12658/9, 1964, V/A, 7 tracks)
Up until 1964, this is about 90% of his stuff that is comparatively easy to assemble (there’s more on obscure EPs and scattered V/A-comps).
From 1965 onwards, the albums are your best bet, starting with
From New Orleans to Chicago / Champion Jack Dupree and His Blues Band (BGO Records BGOCD649, 1966/67 two-fer)
Dupree ’n‘ McPhee: The 1967 Blue Horizon Session (Ace CDCHM 1063, 1967 session)
Jivin‘ With Jack (Jasmine JASMCD 3008/9, 1967 live)
The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (Columbia 518516 2, 1968/69. Contains two albums: When You Feel the Feeling You Was Feeling ( Blue Horizon S 7-63206) and ScoobyDoobyDoo (Blue Horizon 7-63214) and more)
Tricks (GNP Crescendo GNPS-10001, 1968 session)
The Heart of the Blues Is Sound (BYG 529.019, 1969 session)
Until 1970, this is the best I can do. There are some major corners to cut and this is much more than just his essential stuff. But it isn’t all of it, and I’ll revisit this for the time after 1970 at some point.
Until 1970, this is most, if not quite all of
Champion Jack Dupree’s complete recordings
real name Lillian Green or Lillie May Johnson
Lived 1919–1954, recorded 1940–1951.
The Chronological Lil Green 1940-1941 (Classics 5072)
The Chronological Lil Green: 1942 – 1946 (Classics 5099)
The Chronological Lil Green: 1947 – 1951 (Classics 5131)
Lil Green’s complete recordings
Lived 1902 or 1903 (possibly 1907)–unknown, recorded 1941–1942.
Catfish Blues: Mississippi Blues, Vol. 3 (1936-1942) (DOCD-5671, 1941–1942). This includes Petway’s 14 issued sides and some tracks by –>Mississippi Matilda and her then-husband – and –>Mississippi Sheiks member – Sonny Boy Nelson (= Eugene Powell).
Robert Petway’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
Arthur „Big Boy“ Crudup
Lived 1905–1974, recorded 1941–1974(?).
Complete Recorded Works 1941-1954 In Chronological Order, vol 1 (11 September 1941 to 6 September 1946) (DOCD-5201)
Complete Recorded Works 1941-1954 in Chronological Order, Vol. 2 (6 September 1946 to 11 March 1949) (DOCD-5202)
Complete Recorded Works 1941-1954 in Chronological Order, Vol. 3 (11 March 1949 to 15 January 1952) (DOCD-5203)
Complete Recorded Works 1941-1954 in Chronological Order, Vol. 4 (15 January 1952 to 8 April 1954) (DOCD-5204)
Get these Document series discs and his remaining official albums he cut (starting with 1962’s
Mean Ol‘ Frisco [Charly Blues Masterworks Vol. 50] (Charly CD BM 50 )), and I think you’re set.
Unless I’m missing obscure tracks on various-artist-compilatios, these should be
Artur „Big Boy“ Crudup’s complete recordings
birth name McKinley Morganfield
Lived 1913–1983, recorded 1941–1981.
The Complete Plantation Recordings (Chess CHD-9344, 1941–1942)
Library of Congress Recordings (1941-1942) / Early Commercial Recordings (1946-1950) (DOCD-5146, some overlap with the former, but some otherwise not available cuts from 1946/47, also by others with Waters as a sideman)
The Complete Muddy Waters (1947-1967) (Charly CD RED BOX 3, 1947–1967, 9 discs. It’s kind of unbelievable, but this really is virtually all the officially published stuff, incl. some alternate takes up until 1967. Missing are some originally unissued live and studio tracks that later surfaced on scattered V/A-compilations, some live recordings where he appeared for a track or two at the American Folk Blues Festivals in Germany, some Newport. Also, some alternate takes missing. We’re not talking big numbers though, but beware that you’ll „only“ have about (rough estimate) 90 % of his stuff from this period if you get this box. I don’t list all the „American Folk Blues Festival“-stuff, because it’s easier to just get all those records which you need to fill up the discographies of all the particapting guys, but I’ll make a separate list for all those compilation at some point)
Now let’s fill some minor gaps for the time until 1967:
Muddy Waters And Otis Spann In Concert 1958 (Krazy Kat LP 7405)
Hoochie Coochie Man (LRC CDC 9050, 5 additional songs)
Goin‘ Way Back (Just a Memory JAM 9130, 1967, an entire archival 1967 session with familiar songs)
One More Mile (MCA CHD2-9348, large overlap, but at least two 1965-songs only here)
Alan Lomax Presents Folk Song Festival At Carnegie Hall (UAL 3050, 1959, V/A, 2 songs) AND
American Folk Blues Festival ’63 (Fontana 681 510 ZL, V/A, 1 song) AND
Rare Live Recordings Volume One (Black Bear 901, Python PLP-BB 901) AND
Broken Soul Blues (United Artists UAL 3137, credited to Memphis Slim, 1961, Muddy plays on „Rock Me“ and „Sunrise Blues“)
From 1968, get the official (studio and live) albums, starting with Electric Mud (Cadet Concept LPS-314, 1968).
But more archival releases include:
Live the Life (Testament TCD 6001, 1968, with Otis Spann)
Rare Live Recordings Volume One (Black Bear PLB-BB 901, Python PLP-BB 901)
Rare Live Recordings Volume Two (Black Bear PLB-BB 902)
Rare Live Recordings Vol. 3 (Black Bear PLP-BB 903, 1970)
Live in Paris 1968 (France’s Concert FC-121, 1968)
19 Tracks from the Film Chicago Blues (Red Lightnin‘ RL 0055, V/A, 1970, 3 tracks, this appears on some other discographies)
Goin‘ Home Live in Paris 1970 (Fan Club FCD 99, 1970)
Then there is a row of appearences with his band on various Victoria Spivey-records, so look there.
Generally, check –>Victoria Spivey, –>Memphis Slim and –>Otis Spann for more Muddy Waters.
This is what I can do up until 1968 or 1970. I left out some single scattered tracks because I couldn’t be bothered (really about three or four). Note that there’s probably more archival live stuff from the late 1960s and later that I didn’t track down here. But this is still pretty okay. And of course there’s a lot of material after 1970. Check out this discography: http://www.bluesandrhythm.co.uk/documents/200.pdf
For the 1970s, get his studio and live albums. But there is for example this short-cut:
Original Album Classics (Columbia 88697730622) containing his classic albums: Hard Again (Blue Sky PZ 34449, 1977), I’m Ready (Blue Sky JZ 34928, 1978) and King Bee (Blue Sky JZ 37064, 1981).
Although I am pretty satisfied (but I can’t be!) with this effort here, I’m going to flag this as „approximate“ as a reminder of how much more work there would be to track down the actual rest:
Muddy Waters‘ complete recordings
birth name John Len Chatman, aka Peter Chatman
Lived 1915–1988, recorded 1941–1986
The Complete Recordings 1940-1941 (EPM 158032)
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 2: 1946-1948 (EPM 159862)
The Complete Recordings Vol.3, 1948-1950 (EPM 160142)
The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4: 1951-1952 (EPM 160392)
The Come Back (Delmark DE-762, 1952–54)
Memphis Slim U.S.A. (Delmark DE-710, available 1954 United sessions)
Rockin‘ the Blues (Charly CD BM 21, 1958/59 VeeJay sessions)
Chicago Blues Masters, Vol. 1 (Capitol 7243 8 29375 2 4, 1959 live with Muddy Waters)
Blues From Dolphin’s of Hollywood (Ace CDCHD 357, V/A, contains his four 1955 sides)
Chicago Piano 1951-1958 (Paula/Flyright FLY CD 31, V/A-comp with his 4 songs from 1957)
Newport Folk Festival: Best of the Blues 1959-68 (Vanguard 193/95-2, V/A, 3 CDs, 3 songs. Lots of other important performers)
So, this is all the scattered stuff until 1959 – from this point, you’ll have to get the albums, starting with 1959’s
The Real Boogie Woogie (Folkways FG 3524), but you might want to get Real Gone’s 4 CD set, it’s a great short cut:
Six Classic Albums (Real Gone RGMCD227) containing mentioned The Real Boogie Woogie, At the Gate of Horn (Vee Jay LP-1012, 1959), Memphis Slim and the Real Honky Tonk ( Folkways FG 3535, 1960), Memphis Slim, U.S.A. (Candid CJM-8024, 1961), Alone With My Friends (Battle BM 6118, 1963) and All Kinds of Blues (Bluesville BVLP 1053, 1962).
Don’t forget about the live albums.
Memphis Slim arguably recorded more than any other piano blues man, so this actually isn’t too bad, he’s well documented. Great!
Memphis Slim’s complete recordings
Robert Lockwood Jr.
Lived 1915–2006, recorded 1941–2006.
“Lockwood, who was already impatient with the Delta’s traditional blues forms and was spending his nights off tuning into network radio broadcasts by Count Basie and other jazz bands, was about to play a crucial if largely unsung role in modernizing Delta blues. He was the first electric guitarist heard over the radio in the Delta, and the first many younger guitarists in the area heard anywhere. He was the first Delta guitarist to popularize a jazz-influenced, single-string lead guitar style.”(Palmer, Robert: Deep Blues. New York: Penguin Books 1982, 178.)
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 1916–2006, recorded 1941–2001.
Blues from Kansas City (GRP 614), identical to The Chronogical Classics: Jay McShann and His Orchestra 1941-1943 (Classics 740)
The Chronogical Classics: Jay McShann 1944-1946 (Classics 966)
these two create overlap with above and each other, but are the next best thing for his 1947-1951 output, though incomplete!
Jimmy Witherspoon & Jay McShann (Black Lion BLCD760173)
Jumpin‘ the Blues (Proper Records PVCD-131)
for his late 1940s and especially his solo-1950s output (which is small), there are no complete collections, several singles apparently never appeared on any compilations at all. Fortunately, we’re talking about a dozen tracks total or two dozen maximum.
But in other sad news, from this point on, it’s just his albums, starting with 1966’s
McShann’s Piano (Capitol ST 2645)
Good luck, really quite disappointing. The large time-gaps in his solo-recording career exist because he focused on being a sideman for some years, for example for –>Jimmy Witherspoon.
Quite spotty, but the best we can do. Up until 1946 (and still a pretty good bet up until 1951):
Jay McShann’s complete recordings
Lived 1915–1987, recorded 1944–1965.
This starts nicely in the 1940 and ends in a 1960s mess.
Start with the Classics Series:
The Chronological Joe Liggins 1944–1946 (Classics 5020)
The Chronological Joe Liggins 1946–1948 (Classics 5063)
The Chronological Joe Liggins 1948–1950 (Classics 5108)
The Chronological Joe Liggins 1950–1952 (Classics 5155)
Continue with this collection, some overlap, but it’s mostly about alternate or unknown takes:
The Honeydripper: Rare and Unreleased Recordings 1946-1949 (Night Train 7031, 1946–1949)
Then these two very good collections:
Joe Liggins And The Honeydrippers (Specialty 7006 or Ace CDCHD 307, 1950–1954, massive overlap, but includes a take of „Little Joe’s Boogie“ not identical to the other 1950s take, as well as about half a dozen unique numbers like „Freight Train Blues“)
Joe Liggins And The Honeydrippers, Vol. 2: Dripper’s Boogie (Specialty SPCD-7025-2, 1950–1954, overlap continues, but has about half a dozen tracks best available here)
And it ends with a nice session album from the early 1960s:
Honeydripper (Mercury MG 20731, 1962 session album)
Above gives you a very, very complete collection. Now let’s continue with some absurdly detailed stuff.
The Best of Afrs Jubilee, Vol. 10 (Live) (RST Records 1010, 1945, V/A, includes one live performance of „How Come“ 1945)
Let’s Have A Ball Tonight (Natasha Imports NI 4025, V/A, contains a single unique 1950 take of „Pink Champagne“)
Mercury Blues ’n‘ Rhythm Story 1945-1955 (Polygram 528292, V/A, 3 tracks from 1954)
can’t locate LP/CD for:
„Ham Bone Boogie“ (1949, B-side of „What Is the Reason“)
„Justina“ (1957, backed with „Go Ahead“)
„Tell Me So“ / „In the Wee Hours“ (1960 single, Honeydripper 9011/14)
„House Party“ / „Tell Me So“ (1965 single, Duplex 1004)
Consider this big collection, which is great in itself, but a bit of a nuisance when it comes to completing your collection:
Collection 1944–57 (Acrobat 9061, 1944–1957)
Context: This collection contains between 80 and 90 % of the Classics-series and some tracks from the other compilations – so the overlap is gigantic, but you can’t get this one just to replace all of the others. Yet it does uniquely contain „Go Ahead“ (from the 1957-single), so well, there’s that.
Yes! My second attempt to complete this, and it is much better now.
Joe Liggins‘ complete recordings
Lived 1915–1969, recorded 1944–1964
1944-1945 (Chronogical Classics 885)
The Chronogical Classics: Wynonie Harris 1945 – 1947 (Chronogical Classics 1013)
Don’t You Want to Rock? The King & Deluxe Acetate Series (Ace CDTOP2 1124, 1947–1950), this is more than equivalent, better and more complete than 1947-1949 (Chronogical Classics 1139)
The Chronogical Classics: Wynonie Harris 1950 – 1952 (Chronogical Classics 1289)
Women, Whiskey & Fish Tails (Ace CDCHD 457, 1951–1957)
Lovin‘ Machine (Ace CDCHD 843, 1951–1960)
Roulette Rock & Roll Volume 2 (Sequel Records NEM CD 670; V/A-comp, 6 tracks, 1960)
Shoutin‘, Swingin‘ & Makin‘ Love (Chess CHV 412; V/A-comp, 3 tracks, his last 1964 session)
There are two additional sides he recorded for Atco („Destination Love“ and „Tell a Whale of a Tale“) that have been released on Rock Mr. Blues – The King and Atco Recordings 1949-1956 (Rev-Ola CRBAND19). But mind that title: these are just SOME of his King records and just THESE TWO SONGS from the Atco-single. So it creates massive overlap for just that single. A dark spot on an otherwise nice list, sorry everybody.
Wynonie Harris’s complete recordings
Lived 1922–1999, recorded 1944–??
This box seems to be very rare, very expensive – and actually not complete: The Complete Aladdin Recordings of Charles Brown (Mosaic MD5-153, 1945–1956, 5 CDs, 98 tracks).
What you want is this:
The Classic Earliest Recordings (JSP 7707, 1944–1950, 5 CDs, 120 tracks)
and the sixth and LAST disc of this Classics series (about five songs overlap):
The Chronogical Classics: Charles Brown 1944-1945 (Classics 894, 22 tracks)
The Chronogical Classics: Charles Brown 1946 (Classics 971, 22 tracks)
The Chronogical Classics: Charles Brown 1946-1947 (Classics 1088, 23 tracks)
The Chronogical Classics: Charles Brown 1947-1948 (Classics 1147, 24 tracks)
The Chronogical Classics: Charles Brown 1948-1949 (Classics 1210, 24 tracks)
this one –> The Chronogical Classics: Charles Brown 1949-1951 (Classics 1272, 23 tracks)
This is all his (and Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers‘) stuff up until 1951. Then there are the following, not quite complete, but pretty comprehensive compilations.
Cryin‘ Mercy (Blue Orchid 211, 2 CDs) (redundant first CD, but the second CD chronologically contains many tracks up until 1956)
Blue Over You: The Ace Recordings (Westside WESM 610, unissued tracks 1959–1960)
The Very Best of Charles Brown (Collectables COL-CD-2891, 2004, has some tracks chronologically from 1960–1963)
I’m sure I’m missing a few things here. And anyway, from the early 1960s on, it gets hard and confusing, you’ll basically have to hunt down his albums and the constantly issued clean-up compilations from here on.
But up until the late 1950s, these are just about
Charles Brown’s complete recordings
Reverend Gatemouth Moore
Lived 1913–2004, recorded 1945–1977
Couldn’t find single „Did You Ever Love a Woman?“/“I Ain’t Mad at You Pretty Baby“ (ca. 1945, Gilmore’s Chez Paree 853/4)
Couldn’t find single „Somebody’s Got to Go“/“Jumping at the Chez Paree“ (ca. 1945, Gilmore’s Chez Paree 855/6)
Cryin‘ and Singin‘ the Blues (1945/46) (his entire output 1945/46 lacking one possible alternate take)
Hey Mr. Gatemouth: Complete King Recordings (1947) (his entire 1947 output)
Le Gospel (1939/1952) (Body&Soul 2439, V/A, contains one 1951-song)
Couldn’t find the 78-b-side „Glory, Glory Hallelujah“ (ca. 1951) on a CD
Couldn’t find 78-single „I’m going through“ backed with „Thank You Jesus“ (ca. 1951) on a CD
Couldn’t find 78-single „Ain’t God Alright“/“Silent Night“ (ca. 1951) on a CD
Couldn’t find single „They Buried Sin – Part 1“ / „They Buried Sin – Part 2“ (ca. 1952) on a CD
Revival! (1957, some sources say 1959/60)
After Twenty-One Years (1973 revival-album)
Well, this is spotty, but the spots are known, at least.
Reverend Gatemouth Moore’s complete recordings
Ivory Joe Hunter
Lived 1914–1974, recorded 1933 (one track), 1945–1958.
Too Late, Too Late: Vol 10 – 1926-1951 (Document DOCD-5601, clean-up comp, contains Hunter’s first record, 1933’s „Stack-O-Lee“)
1945-1947 (Chronological Classics 5015, 1945–1947)
1947 (Chronological Classics 5026, 1947)
1947-1950 (Chronological Classics 5049, 1947–1950)
1950-1951 (Chronological Classics 5113, 1950–1951)
Blues, Ballads & Rock ‚N‘ Roll (Ace CDCHD 747, 1954–1958)
There’s a weird gap of about half a dozen singles from 1952 and also 1957 that don’t seem to have been issued on CD anywhere. Well. This is still a very clean and neat way to get all the rest. So, as availability goes:
Ivory Joe Hunter’s complete recordings
Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers
Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers: Los Angeles Blues (Complete Recordings 1949 – 1950) (Westside WESD 217, 1949–1950)
Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers: The Modern & Dolphin Sessions 1952-54 (Ace CDCHD 1148, 1952–1954)
For their earlier recordings, see –>CHARLES BROWN. After Brown left the group, they turned to other vocalists. Most of that stuff you’ll find under –>FLOYD DIXON.
With the stuff listed under Brown and Dixon, these are probably
Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers‘ complete recordings
birth name Samuel John Hopkins
Lived 1912–1982, recorded 1946–1981.
All the Classics: 1946-1951 (JSP 7705, 1946–1951)
contains among other things The Complete Aladdin Recordings (EMI CDP 7-96843-2, 1946), my review: spoiler: click to read
Lightnin‘ Special: Volume 2 of the Collected Works (JSP 7790, 1951-1956 for Hopkins, but contains late-1950 sides by L.C. Williams, Lil‘ Son Jackson, Manny Nichols, Thunder Smith, Soldier Boy Houston, J.D. Edwards, Ernest Lewis, Frankie Lee Sims)
The Herald Recordings: 1954 (Collectables COL-CD-5121, 1954 – major overlap with above, but a few unique tracks)
Lightnin‘ Hopkins (his 1959 revival album)
The Tradition Masters (Tradition TCD 1084, 1959), fantastic set, contains both albums for Tradition which are Country Blues (Tradition TLP 1035, 1959) and Autobiography in Blues (Tradition TLP 1040, 1960).
Four Classic Albums: Third Set (Avid Roots – AMSC1363) contains The Rooster Crowed in England (77 LA 12-1, 1959), Lightnin‘ (Bluesville LP 1019, 1960), Lightnin‘ Strikes (Vee-Jay LP 1044, 1962), Last Night Blues (Bluesville BVLP 1029, 1960).
Joel & Lightnin‘ Hopkins (Heritage HLP 1001 or Collector’s Issue C-5530, 1959 – this is an impossible to get, elusive item. There are obscure CD issues on Fourmatt and Reloaded, five really hard to find tracks by Hopkins…)
(1946-1960) (Heritage (E) 77 LA 12-3 or Story of the Blues CD 3524-2) – huge overlap, mainly for two 1959 and 1960 songs: „Tom Moore’s Farm“ and „The Slop“.
Be sure to get these two collections:
Lightnin‘ Hopkins & The Blues Summit (World Pacific WP 1296 or Fuel 2000, 302 061 101 2, 1960), with Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Big Joe Williams
Blues Hoot (DCC Compact Classics DZS 1081 or 100, 1960/1961), with Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Big Joe Williams. These two collections collect some tracks recorded in slightly shifting combos from one member to all four and everything in between, the original issues are elusive and scattered, the track titles inconsistent, the crediting chaotic – just get these two and you’re set. Don’t worry about: Davon LP 2015, Society (E) LP 1015, Society LP 1020, Society 1009… – these sessions showed up in numerous formats. Focus on these CDs.
Mojo Hand: Complete Sessions (P-Vine PCD-5749, 1960, excellent CD, contains the original album plus all other tracks from that session)
The Complete Candid Otis Spann / Lightnin‘ Hopkins Sessions (Mosaic MD3-139, 1960. split release with Otis Spann–>ROBERT LOCKWOOD on guitar and –>ST. LOUIS JIMMY ODEN takes the vocals on some tracks).
Strikes Again (Collectables COL-CD-5216, 1961, large overlap, at least 2 unique tracks)
Lonesome Life (Collectables 5262, 1961, large overlap, only 1 unique track „Good as Old Time Religion“)
The Little Darlin‘ Sound of Lightnin‘ Hopkins: Lightnin‘ Strikes Twice (Koch KOCCD 9850, 1961–196?, contains among others The Lost Texas Tapes Vol. 4 (Collectables LP 5206, 1964))
Lightnin‘ Sam Hopkins (Arhoolie F 1011 – but get the expanded CD: Arhoolie Records PCD-93619, 1961–1962, completing the session and cutting down the number of more Arhoolie output)
Remaining Titles: 1950-1961, Vol.1 (Document DOCD-5609, overlap but unique 1961 track „Hello (Austria)“)
Joel, Lightning & John Henry (Arhoolie CD 340, 1964, credited to The Hopkins Brothers – Lightnin‘ Hopkins with his two brothers!)
The Swarthmore Concert (OBC CD 563, 1964 live)
Sometimes I Believe She Loves Me (Arhoolie CD 451, 1964 live, with Barbara Dane)
Cadillac Man (Drive Archive 41004, 1964, contains the entire live sessions Guest Star LP 1459)
The Complete Prestige/Bluesville Recordings (Prestige Bluesville 7PCD-4406-2, 11 albums from 1961–1965)
contains: Last Night Blues (Bluesville BVLP 1029, 1961) , Lightnin‘ (Bluesville BVLP 1019, 1961), Blues in My Bottle (Bluesville BV 1045, 1962), Walkin‘ This Road by Myself (Bluesville BVLP 1057, 1962), Lightnin‘ & Co. (Bluesville BVLP 1061, 1963), Smokes Like Lightnin‘ (Bluesville BVLP 1070, 1963) , Hootin‘ the Blues (Prestige Folklore FL 14021, 1964), Goin‘ Away (Bluesville BVLP 1073, 1963), Down Home Blues (Bluesville BVLP 1086, 1965), Soul Blues (Prestige PR 7377, 1965) and My Life in the Blues (Prestige PR 7370, 1965)
King of Dowling Street (Sunset Blvd CD-SBR-7993, 1964-?, contains among others King of the Blues (Pickwick 33 PC 3013, 1964)
With His Brothers Joel and John Henry / With Barbara Dane (Arhoolie F 1002, 1965)
Ball and Chain (Arhoolie F 1039, 1965), immense overlap, but I only could find „Gabriel“ here, for example
Live at Newport (Vanguard CD 79715, 1965)
Lightnin‘ Hopkins (Sage ERO 8001, 1965 – unfortunate overlap, but some unique tracks)
Lightnin‘ Strikes (Verve-Folkways FVS 9022, 1965, overlap with above, but unique tracks)
From the Vaults of Everest Records (Collectables 94, contains Something Blue (Verve-Folkways FT 3013, 1965) and more songs)
Live! At the 1966 Berkeley Blues Festival (Arhoolie CD 484, 1966, split release with Clifton Chenier & Mance Lipscomb)
Po‘ Lightnin‘ (Arhoolie CD 403, 1967)
Texas Blues Man (Arhoolie F 1034)
Fishing Clothes: The Jewel Recordings 1965 – 69 (Westside WESD 228, 1965–1969, contains Blue Lightnin‘ (Jewel LPS 5000, 1965), Talkin‘ Some Sense (Jewel LPS 5001, 1968), The Great Electric Show and Dance (Jewel LPS 5002, 1969) and more. Nice.
Wake Up the Dead (Cicadelic 6869, 1968–1969), with Billy Bizor
Free Form Patterns (Charly Records J 750, 1968)
Shootin‘ Fire (Cicadelic 41169, 1969 session, with one track possibly from 1961)
Strikes Again (Home Cooking HC-S-102, 1968)
Blowing My Blues Away (Home Cooking HCS 111, 1968, by Billy Bizor, featuring Hopkins)
California Mudslide (And Earthquake) (Vault SLP 129, 1969 album)
Lightnin‘ (Poppy PYS 11000, 1969 album)
In the Key of Lightnin‘ Hopkins (Tomato CD 2098, 1969)
Lightning Hopkins in Berkeley (Arhoolie 1063, 1969)
Blues Is My Business (Edsel EDCD 353, live 1971)
You’re Gonna Miss Me (Edsel EDCD 357, live 1971)
It’s a Sin to Be Rich (Verve 517 514, 1972)
The Sonet Blues Story (Verve B007210-02, 1974, technically a reissue of Legacy of the Blues, Vol. 12 (Sonet SNTF 672), adding two tracks)
Lightnin‘ Hopkins (Island 1009, 1976, 3 tracks) –> couldn’t locate this one.
Lightnin’s Boogie (Just a Memory 9151-2 or Just a Memory RSC 0009, live 1977)
Mighty Crazy (Catfish KATCD 225, 1978, split release with Big Mama Thornton)
Rising Sun Collection – Louisiana Red, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Lightnin‘ Hopkins (Just a Memory RSC 0011, 1980, split release, 3 tracks)
Forever (EPM Blues Collection 157792, 1981 – his last recordings).
V/A-compilations and other:
Conversation With The Blues (A Documentary Of Field Recordings) (Decca LK 4664, 1 track 1960. This is an elusive test pressing, the track seems to appear nowhere else).
Sing Out With Pete! (Folkways LP 2455, 1960, credited to Pete Seeger, 1 track with Hopkins)
Look, It’s Us! (Jester Records Inc. – J-1, V/A, 1963, 1 track, elusive)
Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads, and Beyond (Arhoolie CD 518 A-D, V/A, 1963, 1 track „Tom Moore’s Farm“)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 (Hip-O CD B0001030-02, V/A, 1964, 1 track, „Mojo Hand“)
American Folk Blues Festival ’64 (Fontana TL 5225, V/A, 1964, 2 tracks)
Great Bluesmen: Newport (Vanguard VSD 77/78, 1965, V/A, 2 tracks)
Blues With a Feeling: Newport Folk Festival Classics (Vanguard CD 2-77005, 1965, V/A, 3 tracks)
Well, there we are. Legend has it that Hopkins is the most prolifically recorded blues artist ever: showing up at the studio, refusing to record until paid, then improvising numbers until the contractual obligation was fulfilled (I mean, he was and is the coolest, no competition).
This list might not be complete – but it’s really the closest I’ll get. So, very approximately:
Lightnin‘ Hopkins‘ complete recordings
This collection contains four original albums, but they all were reissued with bonus material. This collection is neat, but really incomplete when it comes to all things he recorded during this time:
Four Classic Albums (Avid Roots EMSC 1225, 1959–1962) contains Lightnin‘ and the Blues: The Herald Sessions (Buddha 74465 99782 2, 1959), Country Blues (Rykodisc TCD 3001, 1961), Lightnin‘ in New York (Candid 9010, 1960) and Mojo Hand (Fire FLP-104, 1962).
Lived 1915–1992, recorded 1946–1991.
Chicago Blues, Volume 1, 1939 – 1951 (DOCD-5270, his first six sides from 1946 and 1950. Split release with Alfred Fields and Tony Hollins)
Evening Shuffle (West Side WESM 635, 1952-53, his JOB recordings)
Between 1953 and 1965 there is a big gap as a recording artist (we know the drill). Shines returns with
Chicago / The Blues / Today! Vol. 3 (Vanguard VSD 79219, 1965, V/A, 6 tracks by Shines)
Masters of Modern Blues (Testament 5002, 1966)
With Big Walter Horton (Testament 5015, 1966, more tracks from that and 1969 session)
Bottleneck Blues (Testament 5021, 1966, V/A, one more last track from that 1966 session)
From here on out, it’s basically getting the CD-reissues (with additional tracks) of his live and studio albums. I’m listing about as much as I can reasonably scratch together:
Last Night’s Dream (Blue Horizon 7 63212, 1968 session, 1969 album)
Really Chicago’s Blues (Adelphi 1005, 1969 – co-credited to other blues greats)
Standing at the Crossroads (Testament CD 5022, 1970, this reissue listed on RYM as Standing at the Crossroads)
Johnny Shines (Hightone CD 8028, 1970 session, 1974 album)
Traditional Delta Blues (Biograph BCD 121, 1972, reissue of 1972’s Sittin‘ on Top of the World (BLP 12044))
Hey Ba-Ba-Re-Bop! (Black and Blue 33.582, 1971, live album)
Chicago Blues Festival 1972 (Black and Blue 33.502, 1972)
The Blues Came Falling Down – Live 1973 (Omnivore OVCD-328, 1973, live archival)
Country Blues (XTRA 1142, 1974, reissued as „Worried Blues Ain’t Bad“, TBA 13004)
Johnny Shines and Company (Biograph BLP-12048, 1974)
Recorded Live 1974 (Wolf 120.914, 1974 live)
Too Wet to Plow (Blue Labor BL 110, 1975)
Live Recording at Yubin Chokin Hall on March 1975 (Bourbon BMC-2003, 1975 live)
„Live“ in Europe 1975 (DOCD 32207, 1975, live archival)
Hangin‘ on (Rounder 2023, 1980, with Robert Lockwood Jr.)
Mister Blues Is Back to Stay (Rounder 2026, 1981, with Robert Lockwood Jr.)
Back to the Country (Blind Pig BP 74391, 1991, with Snooky Pryor)
Check out also the discography of OTIS SPANN for more major appearances by Shines.
I’m reasonably confident that this is a good approximation of his studio as well as his available live output, though the latter is shakier of course. Let’s call it
Johnny Shines‘ complete recordings
Lived 1927-1980, recorded 1946-1972.
The Complete Aladdin Recordings of Amos Milburn (Mosaic Records MD7-155, 1946–57, 7 CDs, 124 tracks)
Sing My Blues Tonight: The Ace Blues Masters Volume 1 (Westside WESM 530, V/A, 1 song, 1959)
He recorded three singles in 1960/61 which are not readily available on good compilations. Hm. These are:
Please Come Home for Christmas / Christmas (Comes But Once a Year) (King 45-5405, other side by CHARLES BROWN, 1960)
My Sweet Baby’s Love / Heartaches That Make You Cry (King 45-5483, 1961)
Movin‘ Time / The Hammer (King 45-5529, 1961)
We continue with:
The Motown Sessions, 1962-1964 (Motown 314 530 611-2, 1962–1964)
R&B Hipshakers Vol. 2: Scratch That Itch (Vampi Soul CD 126, V/A, 1 song, 1967)
R&B Hipshakers Volume 4: Bossa Nova and Grits (Vampi Soul 45064, V/A, 1 song, 1967)
It gets fuzzy after this. I couldn’t find any solo recordings of Milburn after 1967, but he worked at the very least as a session musician on other records, reportedly dying of a stroke during a session for JOHNNY OTIS.
Anyhow, this is probably almost complete, and for sure until 1967, these are
Amos Milburn’s complete recordings
The Big Three Trio
Consisted of Willie Dixon, Leonard „Baby Doo“ Caston & Ollie Crawford
The Big Three Trio (Columbia Roots’N’Blues 467248, 1947–1952, credited to Willie Dixon)
I Feel Like Steppin‘ Out (Dr. Horse RDB 804, 1946–1952)
These two discs collect about two thirds of their entire output, missing about 16 tracks (not counting this or that alternate take of the songs presented above). The rest, alas, is scattered or elusive. Some tracks appear on this or that sampler, but only very few. I doubt many the following singles have even made it on an LP-compilation, let alone a CD.
Anyway, these are the tracks not on either of the compilations above:
„Lonely Roamin'“, „Get Up Those Stairs, Mademoiselle“, „It Can’t Be Done“, „Baby I Can’t Go On Without You“, „Get Her Off My Mind“, „Till the Day I Die“, „Dry Bones“, „Why Do You Do Me Like You Do“, „Goodbye Mr Blues“, „Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild Women“, „There’s Something on My Mind“, „Blip Blip“, „Practising the Art of Love“, „Torture My Soul“, „Be a Sweetheart“, „Too Late“
Other than that:
The Big Three Trio’s complete recordings
birth name Albert Luandrew
Lived 1906–1995, recorded solo 1947–1987(?).
Sunnyland Slim is one of the imposing figures – meaning, even when he played as a sideman to one of the bigger stars and recording artists, he is still sometimes credited or co-credited. This makes his „solo“-career a bit messier, depending on the information you follow. Anyhow.
There is a good JSP set, Sunnyland Slim and his Pals – The Classic Sides 1947-1953 (JSP 7783), with several artists (which might be essential for other reasons), but it is very spotty for Sunnyland Slim, especially compared to the essentially complete Chronogical Classics series. There is also a large collection called 1947 – 1961 (Real Gone CD 293) which is large and budget-priced, but it is nowhere near comprehensive.
So be sure to start with:
The Chronological Sunnyland Slim 1947-1948 (Chronological Classics 5013)
The Chronological Sunnyland Slim 1949-1951 (Chronological Classics 5035)
The Chronological Sunnyland Slim 1952-1955 (Chronological Classics 5171)
These have all his stuff as a frontman or „leading sideman“ from the period, except two alternate takes: „I’m Just a Lonesome Man“ and „When I Was Young“.
(compare to 1947 – 1961)
The Cobra Records Story: Chicago Rock and Blues 1956-1958 (Capricorn 9 42012-2, V/A, 3 tracks from 1956!)
The La Salle Chicago Blues Recordings – Vol. 2 (Wolf 120.297 CD, V/A, 1 track from 1959!)
… (but get the reissue #Southland CD 10 called Chicago Blues Session, containing the complete 1960 session with LITTLE BROTHER MONTGOMERY)
Meat and Gravy from Bea and Baby (Castle Music 610, V/A, contains 2 tracks from poss. 1960)
Chicago Ain’t Nothin‘ But a Blues Band (Delmark 624, V/A, 1960, 2 tracks)
Slim’s Shout: The Blues of Sunnyland Slim (OBC D 26804, 1960 album, bonus track issue)
Blues Piano Orgy (Delmark CD 626, V/A, 1963, 4 tracks)
Live in ’63 ((Varèse Sarabande 302 061 300 2, live 1963, archival, with J.B. LENOIR)
Chicago Blues (Spivey 1003, V/A, 1964, 2 tracks)
I Blueskvarter Chicago 1964, Volume One (Jefferson SBACD 12653/4, V/A, 1964, 5 tracks)
Blues Southside Chicago (Decca LK 4748, V/A, 1964, 2 tracks)
Portraits in Blues Vol. 8 (Storyville SLP 169, 1964 session, but get the bonus tracks reissue, say, Storyville CD 8008)
Barrelhouse Blues & Boogie Woogie Vol. 2 (Storyville CD 8044, V/A, 1964, 4 tracks)
Barrelhouse Blues and Boogie Woogie Vol. 3 (Storyville SLP 213 / CD 8045, V/A, 1964, 3 tracks)
American Folk Blues Festival ’64 (Fontana TL 5225, V/A, 1964, 1 track)
Bye Bye, Bird…Solo Blues (Scout Sc-1, V/A, 1964, 1 track)
Blues Anytime! (Evidence ECD 26052, 1964, also titled „Hubert’s American Blues“ or „American Folk Blues“)
The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (Blue Horizon 88697192172, 1968, contains Midnight Jump (BH S 7-63213) and more, also by JOHNNY SHINES)
Slim’s Got His Thing Goin‘ On (World Pacific 21890, 1969 album). These are 11 tracks. Sunnyland Slim recorded 13 more on that session. The entire session (including the album) is said to be released on a 3-CD-Box with other artists, called
Rediscovered Blues, Vol. 2 as part of the „Capitol Blues Collection“, with a catalogue number something like „Capitol CDP 36284 or 724383628421. All this information is online in numerous sources – but all sources point out that no one has ever seen or laid hand on the physical CDs. Most sources assume that Capitol planned and promoted this set (which is why there is specific information) but never actually released it. Anyway, if you find this, you reached the end of the rainbow – let me know!
All Stars Blues World of Spivey Records (Spivey 1011, V/A, 1969, 1 track)
Really Chicago’s Blues (Adelphi AD 1005, V/A 1969, 3 tracks)
Sad and Lonesome (Jewel LPS 5010, 1971 album)
Meat and Gravy – The Best of Cadillac (Castle CMDDD 610, V/A, 1971, 7 tracks)
Plays the Ragtime Blues (Bluesway BLS 6068, 1973 album)
Legacy of the Blues, Vol. 11 (Sonet SNTCD 671, 1973 album)
Sunnyland Slim’s Blues Jam With Delta Blues Band (Storyville SLP 245, 1973)
Barrelhouse Blues and Boogie Woogie Vol. 1 (Storyville STCD 8030, V/A, 3 tracks)
Barrelhouse Blues and Boogie Woogie Vol. 2 (Storyville STCD 8044, V/A, 2 tracks)
She Got A Thing Goin‘ On (Earwig Music CD 4942, 1971–1983)
Blues Reference: Chicago Blues Festival 1974 With Jimmy Dawkins (Black and Blue BB 470, 1974, with Big Voice Odom)
Travelin‘ (Black and Blue BB 433, 1974)
Depression Blues (Festival FLD 648, 1974)
Live in Europe 1975 (Airway AR-SBB 4757, 1975)
Long Tall Daddy (Arcola Records A CD 1006, 1976, with Big Time Sarah)
Heavy Timbre Chicago Boogie Piano (Sirens SR-5002 CD, V/A, 1976, 6 tracks)
The Blues Wailed in Berkeley (Southland SCD-37, 1976)
Smile On My Face (Delmark DD-735, 1977)
Be Careful How You Vote (Earwig 4915, 1977–1983)
Old Friends (Earwig 4902, 1979, credited to Old Friends)
Decoration Day (L+R CDLR 72007, 1980)
Sunnyland Train (Evidence ECD 26066, 1983)
Snake in my Bedroom (Drive 3206, V/A, 1983–1984, aka Chicago Blues Meeting)
National Downhome Blues Festival, Vol. 1 (Southland SCD-21, V/A, 1984)
Chicago Jump (Evidence ECD 26067, 1985)
Tenth Anniversary Anthology, Vol. 1 – Live from Antone’s (Antone’s Ant 0004, V/A, 1985, 1 track)
Live at the D.C. Blues Society (Mapleshade MS 512630, 1987)
And that’s them, all I could find. Watch out for those Earwig-releases, they gather a lot of stuff very orderly.
Sunnyland Slim’s complete recordings as a frontman or „credited“ sideman
Lived 1914–1994, recorded 1947–1984 (1993?).
The compilations of Eddie Boyd’s work are so large and nice while being so outrageously overlapping at the same time that it is almost comical. While they seem rich and thoughtfully done at first („complete“ this, „complete“ that, nice chronology), they basically all feature two or three absolutely unique tracks, while the other two or three dozen overlap with the other collections. It is absolutely flabbergastig, to the point one could say: Any Eddie Boyd collection is great, because none is perfect.
All these directly below come with HUMONGOUS overlap, among the worst examples of discographical desaster I’ve seen:
Eddie Boyd: The Blues Is Here To Stay 1947–1959 (Jasmine JASMCD 3039)
Five Long Years – The Complete Recordings Vol.2, 1951-1953 (EPM 160562, 1951–1953)
Rattin‘ and Running Around (Crown Prince IG-400, 1953–1956)
The Singles Collection 1947-62 (Acrobat ADDCD3250, 1947–1962)
Eddie Boyd: Vacation From The Blues (Mojo 2167, 1957–1964)
The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (Blue Horizon 82876769682, 1960, 1967/68)
And above wraps up his beginnings until the mid-1960s. Now get some scattered V/A-tracks:
I Blueskvarter Chicago 1964, Volume One (Jefferson Records SBACD 12653/4, V/A, 1964)
Blues With a Feeling: Newport Folk Festival Classics (Vanguard VCD2-77005, V/A, 1965, 1 track)
American Folk Blues Festival ’65 (Fontana 885 422 TY, V/A, 1 track, 1965)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 (Hip-O CD B0001030-02, V/A, 1965, 1 track)
And from here we’re just out to hunt the albums, starting 1966:
Five Long Years (L+R CDLR 72009, 1965, his 1966 album)
Praise the Blues (Philips XPL 655033, 1967 album)
Eddie Boyd and His Blues Band ( Decca / SKL 4872, 1967 album)
Praise to Helsinki (Love LRLP 25, 1970 album)
„Mello‘ Hello!“ (Blue North BNCD 003, 1970 live album)
The Legacy of the Blues Vol.10 (GNP Crescendo GNPS 10020, 1973/74)
Hand in Hand (Blue Angel BA 1, 1978 live album)
Eddie Boyd: My Lady (Lobo 002, 1978 live album)
Eddie Boyd with Ulli’s Blues Band: Soulful (Magic Angel BA2, 1979 live album)
A Sad Day (Paris Album PLB 2 28509, 1980 album)
Lovers‘ Playground (Stockholm RJ-204, 1984 album)
„Live“ in Switzerland 1968 (Storyville STCD 8022, live 1968)
Eddie Boyd: for sincere listening (Bluebeat S-77331, live 1968)
Barrelhouse, Blues & Boogie Woogie Vol. 2 (Storyville STCD 8044, 1968, V/A, 1 track)
Barrelhouse Blues and Boogie Woogie Vol. 3 (Storyville STCD 8045, 1968, V/A, 1 track)
Nice, but obsolete if all above is acquired:
The Complete Recordings 1947-1950 (EPM 160002, 1947–1950, major overlap but some unique tracks)
Third Degree (Charly CD BM 42, 1953–1959, major overlap)
Couldn’t locate on LP/CD:
„Tortured Soul“, „Came Home This Morning“, „I’ve Been Deceived“, „Let’s Tie the Knot“, „Nothing“ (Heco 45008)
And well, after falling ill, he only appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival 1986 (I haven’t found any indication that a record survived) and he apparently published a gospel-cassette in 1993.
Eddie Boyd’s complete recordings
Birth name Mabel Louise Smith.
Lived 1924–1972, recorded solo 1947–1967.
The Complete OKeh Sessions 1952-55 (Legacy EK 53417)
This one has about seven tracks that don’t show up on the following larger collections.
Savoy Blues Legends: Candy! (Savoy 93018-2, 1956–57, 2 CDs, 46 tracks)
misses 25 tracks that are on this one:
Complete King, Okeh & Savoy Releases 1947-1961 (Acrobat ADDCD3161, 2Cds, 53 tracks)
misses 18 tracks that are on Savoy Blues Legends, but has more in total. These two compilations share 28 tracks out of 99, so going with both is still the best bet.
Blues In The Night No. 1 (Phontastic PHONT NCD 8815, V/A, 1958, Series Newport Jazz Festival 1958, July 3rd-6th – Vol. III)
You’ll find two otherwise missing songs „Foolin‘ Blues“ and „Dirty Deal Blues“ on this otherwise redundant compilation:
The Chronological Classics Blues & Rhythm Series: Big Maybelle 1944-1953 (Chronological Classic 5809, 1944–1953)
Big Maybelle did vocals for the elusive orchestra led by Christine Chatman, so there would be a few additional tracks not in her own discography until 1967.
This sadly isn’t a completely clean catch, but the two single collections on Savoy and Acrobat are already a terrific start – and if you hunt down the other tracks, you’ll have
Big Maybelle’s complete recordings
Clarence „Gatemouth“ Brown
Birth name Clarence Brown Jr.
Lived 1924–2005, recorded 1947–2004.
Boogie Uproar: Texas Blues and R&B 1947-1954 (JSP 7758, 4 CDs, V/A, contains Gatemouth’s recordings from this period as well as several other artists!)
Between 1955 and 1961, Gatemouth recorded about a dozen tracks that are not neatly collected on one compilation. You get most of those on compilations like The Original Peacock Recordings (Rounder 2039, 1948–1959), San Antonio Ballbuster [Drive] (Red Lightnin‘ RL0010, 1948–1959), Gate Walks to Board: 1947-1960 Aladdin & Peacock Sides (Hoodoo 263524, 1947–1960) or Boogie Uproar: The Complete Aladdin/Peacock Singles, As & Bs 1947-1961 (Jasmine JASMCD 3079, 1947–1961) – but none of them has all the tracks and they create absolutely massive overlap with each other and the other records in this list. Unfortunate!
Okie Dokie (Aim Records AIM 1304 CD, most his 1964/65 recordings)
San Antonio Ballbuster [Charly Blues Masterworks Vol.6] (Charly Records CD BM 6, the remaining 1965 recordings)
You’ll have to hunt down albums from this point on, starting with 1972’s The Blues Ain’t Nothin‘ (Black and Blue 33033). Gatemouth shuffled in and out of the music business but remained active until his death in 2005.
Give or take a few alternate tracks (and the badly documented period from 1955 to 1965), until 1965 these are
Clarence „Gatemouth“ Brown’s complete recordings
Lived 1925–1981, recorded 1947–1972(?)
The Chronological Roy Brown 1947-1949 (Classics 5021, 1947–1949)
The Chronological Roy Brown 1950-1951 (Classics 5036, 1950–1951)
The Chronological Roy Brown 1951–1953 (Classics 5090, 1951–1953)
Mighty Mighty Man! (Ace CDCHD 459, his King recordings 1953–1959)
The Complete Imperial Recordings (Capitol 7243 8 31743 2 4, his Imperial and Capitol recordings 1956–58)
There’s a weird gap of about a dozen 1960–1963 singles that partly hadn’t been issued, and the rest hasn’t really seen the compilation-light of day.
Hard Times (Bluesway BLS-6056, 1973 album with his 1967/68 recordings)
Now, as said, Brown’s work became very obscure, even elusive from the late 1960s onwards, and he only recorded very few additional tracks on extremely obscure, badly documented labels.
Apart from the unissued singles, a couple of singles ranging from 1968–1972 (and a few later in the 1970s) haven’t ever been released on compilations at all, only this or that track shows up on V/A-compilations. But apart from these (about two dozen tracks), everything is on this list here.
To get an idea about his entire discography and the missing singles, compare:
But apart from these and some alternate tracks, these really are
Roy Brown’s complete recordings
Birth name Marion Walter Jacobs
Lived 1930–1968, recorded solo 1947–1968.
The Complete Chess Masters (1950-1967) (Geffen Records – B0012636-02, 1950–1967, 5 CDs, 126 tracks)
This is the one to get, all his Chess/Checkers records which is basically 90% of his solo output.
The following contain the half dozen tracks recorded 1947–49 and single scattered tracks after 1950 not recorded for Chess. All of these create massive overlap, but that’s the way the bee bumbles:
The Chronological Classics Blues & Rhythm Series: Little Walter 1947 – 1953 (Classics 5091, 1947–1953)
Blues with a feeling [The Essential Blue Archive] (Blue Label SPV 97752, contains a number of early singles credited to other people like Muddy Waters, but composed and sung by Little Walter)
The Blues World of Little Walter (Delmark DL-648, 1950–51, more obscure stuff)
The 1949 B-side „I Want My Baby“ (for Tempo-Tone) is nowhere to be found on a CD-compilation, as far as I could tell.
Anyway, the Chess masters box set is just amazing. Just about
Little Walter’s complete recordings
John Lee Hooker
Lived 1912 or 1917–2001, recorded 1948–2001.
„Finally, you could go to his earliest recordings. But here Hooker’s deceptiveness gets positively wicked. He sometimes recorded under the name of John Lee Cooker or John Lee Booker or just John Lee – easy aliases to penetrate – but he mixed these up with trickier pseudonyms, „Delta John“ or „Texas Slim“ or „Birmingham Sam“ or „The Boogie Man“ or „Little Pork Chops.“ So many sessions, so many labels, so little information: with John Lee Hooker, even the hard facts of discography take on a suggestive, hypothetical quality.“ (Gioia, Ted: Delta Blues. New York, London: W. W. Norton 2009, 235)
Hooker recorded for a myriad labels under about a dozen different names – this makes his pre-album career a collector’s nightmare. Still, let’s see what we can do, just be aware there’s no clean solution.
There is a quite complete collection by Body & Soul (6 double-CDs):
The Complete John Lee Hoker, Vol. 1: Detroit 1948–1949 (Body & Soul 3057012)
The Complete John Lee Hoker, Vol. 2: Detroit 1949 (Body & Soul 3063142)
The Complete John Lee Hoker, Vol. 3: Detroit 1949–1950 (Body & Soul 3067872)
The Complete John Lee Hoker, Vol. 4: Detroit 1950–1951 (Body & Soul 3074742)
The Complete John Lee Hoker, Vol. 5: Detroit 1951–1953 (BS 2500)
The Complete John Lee Hoker, Vol. 6: Detroit – Miami 1953–1954 (BS 2653)
These have become extremely rare and partly insanely expensive (when I first wrote this entry, the amazon price for vol. 6 was 1300 dollars, no typo, while vol. 1 stood at 175 dollars. the rest goes for between 25 and 300). Get as much of these as you can afford – anything below 50 is an incredible bargain.
There’s another basically unattainable one which is nothing short of stunning:
The Vee-Jay Years, 1955 – 1964 (Charly CD RED BOX 6, 6 CDs, ~300 dollars…)
But for his early pre-album years, this incomplete set is your best bet:
The Classic Early Years 1948-1951 (JSP JSPCD7703)
Now, each of the following has a lot of material not on the others, but the factual overlap will be quite large if you get all these. Still, the additional material is always larger than the overlap, so…
Alternative Boogie: Early Studio Recordings, 1948-1952 (Capitol 7243 8 33912 2 6, some overlap, but a lot of stuff not on the above sets)
Early Years: Classic Savoy Sessions (Metro Doubles METRDCD532, 1948–1959)
The Modern, Chess & Veejay Singles Collection 1949–62 (Acrobat Music ACQCD7103, 1949–1962, 4 CDs, creates some overlap but very good collection.)
If you’re fed up with this kind of stuff, you might want to get this 50-year-overview:
Hooker (Shout! Factory / 826663-10198, career-spanning 4 CD set)
After 1960, you’ll have to get the albums, that’s when they started to issue those.
Well, this isn’t neat and by no means complete, but for the effort I’m going to reward myself and call these
John Lee Hookers‘ esssential recordings up until 1960
Frankie Lee Sims
Lived 1917–1970, recorded solo 1948–1960.
This is an easy, if slightly haphazard three-step-journey.
Juke Joints, Vol. 4: That’s All Right with Me (JSP 77168, V/A, 4 CDs, collects numerous artists, but is probably a most reliable place to get Sims‘ first four sides from 1948).
Then the biggest chunk of his work is right here:
Masterly Texas Blues – Music With a Swagger (JSP CD 4217, 1953–1957, split release with Mercy Dee Walton)
This contains the entire 1970-collection Lucy Mae Blues (Ace CDCHD 423, 1953–1954: all of his recordings for Specialty).
Walkin‘ With Frankie (Aim 1089, 1960, CD-reissue of Walkin‘ With Frankie: (Unissued Cuts From 1960), Krazy Kat 7428, a formerly elusive session that saw the light of day in 1985).
Nice. Aside from alleged and dubitable work as a sideman, this is a pretty concise thing with a clearly essential collection from JSP.
Frankie Lee Sims‘ complete recordings
Lived 1924–2006, recorded 1948–1962.
Given the fact she had some R&B hits, this woman is mightily bad documented. Below are just compilations I could find that do not seem to have any overlap. Most of these don’t have publishing dates etc. Weird.
Creole Gal (Route 66 KIX 8, 1948–1949, with Paul Gayten)
It Hurts to Be in Love! (Sing 1155, vinyl only, has some tracks not on the following CD, but much less in total)
It Hurts to Be in Love (Official CD 9138, 26 tracks on the CD reissue)
Nothing But the Blues (Palace M-793, with the Specs Williams Quartet)
Regal Records In New Orleans (Ace CD 362, V/A-compilation)
Ladies Sing The Blues – Volume 2 (Savoy SJL-2256, V/A-compilation, 3 tracks)
The OKeh Rhythm and Blues Story 1949-1957 (Epic E3K 48912, V/A, 1 track)
Can’t find these singles noted in Fancourt/McGrath’s Blues Discography on any CD- or LP-compilation : „I Don’t Get My Kicks Anymore“, „I Ain’t Go It Bad No More“, „I’m Tired (of Waitin‘ For You)“, „Leave It To Me“, „Wild and Wooly“.
There is very minor overlap between this or that noted compilation above. For an overview, compare http://www.rocky-52.net/chanteursl/laurie_a.htm
Apart from those noted missing, these are
Annie Laurie’s complete recordings
Forest City Joe
aka Forrest City Joe, birth name Joe Bennie Pugh
Lived 1926–1960, recorded 1948 and 1959.
Downhome Delta Harmonica (Deltacat 1003, split release with –>Polka Dot Slim)
Forest City Joe’s complete recordings
Lived 1925–2015, recorded 1949–2014.
This is a bit of a mess and there is really no way to get everything, even from his early years, in a neat and concise way.
King recorded around ~250 songs on the Modern Records labels (Crown/Kent/RPM) between 1949 and 1962 (an estimation but an educated one). So his early work is large but manageable. While he recorded nothing but singles for eight years, the labels started putting out „albums“ (mostly collecting published singles), thirteen in number. These already had minor overlaps among themselves.
ACE Records reissued ten of these albums with extensive bonus tracks. If you hunt down the ACE reissues one by one, you’ll have a historically important, excellently made collection with 184 tracks total (and very minor overlaps – I haven’t counted precisely, but no more than four or five songs seem to show up twice). Despite the extensive bonus tracks, there are still dozens of published singles from this era that aren’t on here (but are on Option 3 below, for example).
But there are several ways to get about 90% of his early output in sets, so I’ll just list those with their advantages and disadvantages.
The Complete RPM-Kent Recording Box 1950-1965 (P-Vine Records PCD-LP-3/20, 234 CD-tracks, but many alt. takes etc.)
If you want to indulge yourself with 17 CDs, an LP, alternate takes, incomplete takes etc. you’ll have to get Bear Family’s The Complete RPM-Kent Recording Box 1950-1965.
Pro: This obviously does have next to all published sides for RPM/Kent recorded in that time span and it is by far the largest set. No other set can even remotely touch this one in terms of completeness.
Contra: It costs an insane amount of money (+400), and at least B.B.’s two earliest singles (recorded for Bullett!) are not here. Neither are many of the tracks that were recorded back then but not released, but which do show up as bonus tracks on re-issued albums and, to some degree, the other options here.
Option 2 (recommended)
Milestones of a Blues Legend (Documents 600267, 182 tracks, 1949–1962)
This is a Document box set with his first ten albums. Two of these are rare and haven’t been readily issued on CD! It fills some of the gaps of Option 3.
Pro: contains two albums that were never actually re-issued on CD before: Compositions of Duke Ellington and Others (rare) and the entire Twist With B.B. King. To be taken with a grain of salt though, see below. Also, all the ten albums come with a plethora of necessary bonus tracks… but different bonus tracks than the ACE reissues.
Contains the albums Singin‘ the Blues (Crown CLP 5020), The Blues (Crown CLP 5063), B.B. King Wails (Crown CLP 5115), Sings Spirituals (Crown CLP-5119), Compositions of Duke Ellington and Others (Crown CLP-5153), King of the Blues (Crown CLP 5167), My Kind of Blues (Crown CLP-5188), Blues for Me (United US 7708, aka More B.B.King), Easy Listening Blues (Crown CLP-5286) and Twist With B.B. King (Crown CLP 5248).
This is the largest of the affordable sets I’ve found! I recommend it. It’s really quite cheap and I think it’s worth the overlap with other sets.
Contra: It has to be said that the Duke Ellington-album is actually by conductor Maxwell Davis and features King on vocals on only one track (the rest is just instrumental big band) – it gets credited to King purely to get attention. The „Twist with“-album is a compilation consisting entirely of previously released songs (some changed titles) available on the other albums of this set. So they are historically accurate regarding the publishing history, but musically quite pointless.
Also, a few tracks show up twice, for instance as an album track and (sometimes retitled) bonus track. This reflects King’s erratic publishing history from that period, but it’s a bit of a downer. Still, it’s the best you can get for the money.
As opposed to Option 3, misses the complete Blues in My Heart (Crown 5309, 10 songs) and misses one song of The Great B.B. King (Crown US-7728). Also misses about 6 additional tracks. So: has more tracks total than Option 3, but misses about 17 (?). Last but not least, this edition uses tracks that have better OR worse mastering than other compilations, for example Option 3 has better sound for some songs.
Complete Recordings 1949-1962 (Enlightenment EN6CD9055, 168 tracks)
This contains dozens of singles and ten early albums/compilations with different sequencing: Singin‘ the Blues , The Blues, B.B. King Wails, Sings Spirituals, King of the Blues, My Kind of Blues, The Great B.B. King, Blues for Me (aka More B.B.King), Blues in My Heart (aka A Heart Full of Blues), Easy Listening Blues (as well as six cuts of Twist With B.B. King – but only because these were already on other albums).
Pro: You can get the album Blues in My Heart on this (missing on Option 2) and contains dozens and dozens of singles that aren’t on the ten mentioned albums – most of those are on the bonus tracks of the ACE reissues and on Option (2) though. This has about at least ~20 tracks that are not on Option(2), but fewer tracks overall.
It seems to be completely chronological, is super-low budget (like under 20 Dollars) while still being okay quality considering the package. Sound is pretty good.
It is one of the largest of the affordable sets, has slightly better sound quality in certain spots than Option (2), but is overall less satisfying. I’d personally go with Option(2), even though that one has some sound problems on a few tracks.
Contra: There really is no consistency to what made the cut here in what order. There are all kinds of labels, this or that elusive track that didn’t make it on any of the other sets here… but there’s no system. It’s a (very large) grab bag. There are even some songs that appear TWICE (under different alternative titles). This is a common theme for B.B.’s publishing history from that period.
As opposed to Option(2), explicitly missing are the four tracks to complete Twist with B.B. King (though they probably do appear here under their original titles, check my statement above), all but two or three tracks from B. B.King Sings Compositions Of Duke Ellington & Others (rare!) and some (partly obscure) singles from this period, you can read about it here:
That review’s assessment has some errors though: 5 of the 32 songs claimed missing are actually on the set (title differences…).
Considering the package: It’s okay quality visually and materially, but of course zero effort went into the presentation: No recording dates, no actual liner notes. You know the budget drill. Still, this is a good buy.
The Complete Singles As & Bs: 1949-62 (Acrobat Music ACFCD7504, 123 tracks)
Pro: contains 11 tracks not on Option 3, even has some that aren’t on Option 2. Well made packaging.
Contra: misses 17 tracks that are on Option 3, a lot less tracks than Option 2.
The Vintage Years (Ace ABOXCD 8, 106 tracks)
This seems to be very nice looking set from 2002.
Pro: It contains at least two songs that weren’t anywhere to be found on Option 2–4.
Contra: Stretches further into the late 1960s (so has more tracks from that era on the last CD), but isn’t nearly as complete as the other options, especially missing the early years.
Now, obviously King’s story didn’t end here, but up until about 1962, the recommended sets here are the best way to get something approximating
B.B. King’s complete recordings (until 1962)
Big Jay McNeely
Lived 1927–2018, recorded 1949–2018.
This isn’t an easy case, as McNeely doesn’t appear in professional „blues“ discographies very reliably – his recordings were either too rhythm&blues, too jazz, too rock’n’roll for the holy purists of cataloguing things. McNeely also has a very weird career – a star in the 1950s and (to a degree) early 1960s, he stopped recording until the 1980s (where things picked up again).
Anyway: This is probably spotty, but it’s the most I could do. His early phase is probably represented reasonably well here.
The Chronological Big Jay McNeely 1948-1950 (Classics 5009)
The Chronological Big Jay McNeely 1951-1952 (Classic 5058)
The Chronological Big Jay MnNeely 1953–1955 (Classics 5170)
Nervous! (Saxophile Records SCD-103, 1951-57)
Crazy (Saxophile Records SCD-105, 1949–1957)
There Is Something on Your Mind (Collectables 6377). Contains: Swingin‘ (Big J JLP-103, 1957–1961) and Live at Birdland 1957 (Big J JLP-108, 1957).
Recorded Live at Cisco’s, Manhattan Beach, Calif. (Warner Bros. W 1523, live 1962, p. 1963)
And now his comeback albums and later career:
From Harlem to Camden (Ace CH 111, 1984) – his comeback album
AZ Bootin‘ (Big J JLP-107, 1988).
Blow the Wall Down (Ornament CHCD-7.543, 1990)
Cherry Pie (Big J-Records JCD-112, 1996) with Dana Gillespie
Saxy Boogie Woogie (Vagabond Records VRCD 8.08033, 2008) with Axel Zwingenberger
Live in Switzerland (Big Jay McNeely Masters 2009, digital file)
I’m Still Here: Big Jay Sings The Blues (Cleopatra CLOCD1083, 2018)
This is a pretty good approximation of
Big Jay McNeely’s complete recordings
Birth name Antoine Dominique Domino Jr.
Lived 1928–2017, started recording 1949
Out of New Orleans (Bear Family / BCD 15541, 8 CDs, goes for about 100-300 right now)
This contains almost everything from 1949–1962, except for these tracks:
„Domino Stomp (Twistin‘ the Stomp)“ on The Chronological Fats Domino 1953 (Classics 5095, 1953)
„My Heart’s in Your Hands“ and „Are You Going My Way“ on album Fats Domino Rock and Rollin‘ (Imperial LP-12388, 1956 recordings)
„Just a Little While (to Stay Here)“ and „When You’re Smiling“ on Let’s Dance With Domino (Imperial LP-9239)
I don’t know why these didn’t make it on the Bear Family compilation. They’re also missing on the respective issues of the Chronological Classics Series, which is otherwise excellent and maybe the cheaper option, IF you can find them. But they only reach until 1958. So… anyhow, the Chronological Classics series is still a bit better for the respective years than the „Imperial Singles“ volumes as those only collect his Imperial singles, not the (very few) other tracks.
Here’s the list of the Classics Series that you might want to skip in favour of the Bear Family collection.
The Chronological Fats Domino 1949-1951 (Classics 5025)
The Chronological Fats Domino 1951-1952 (Classics 5060)
The Chronological Fats Domino 1953 (Classic 5095, see above)
The Chronological Fats Domino 1954-1955 (Body & Soul 5301)
The Chronological Fats Domino 1955-1957 (Body & Soul 5302)
The Chronological Fats Domino 1957-1958 (Body & Soul 5303)
The Chronological Fat Domino 1958 (Body & Soul 5304)
Things pick up again here:
The Imperial Singles Volume 5, 1962-1964 (Ace CDCHD 1323, this stretches the Imperial works from 1962 to 1964).
From 1964 onwards, there are a few large collections, but none of them is complete – you’ll need to seek out his albums and probably myriads of anthologies. Okay then.
Fats Domino’s complete recordings
Lived 1929–2006, recorded 1949–1996(?)
Now, the bad news is that (apart from some unissued tracks), quite a number of Dixon’s singles have never been put on a compilation some others are scattered on several V/A-comps (not listed here). And some compilations even just appeared as vinyl-LPs (on Bear Family).
But the bulk of his work (with some minor overlaps) is available on these few compilations:
Cow Town Blues: The Seminal 1948-50 Recordings (Ace CDCHD 740, 1948–1950)
His Complete Aladdin Recordings (Capitol 7243 8 36293 2 9, 1949–52)
Marshall Texas Is My Home (Specialty SPCD 7011-2, 1953–57)
Empty Stocking Blues ( Route 66 KIX-27)
Wake Up and Live! (Alligator ALCD 4841, 1996 live)
I guess this is as convenient as it gets, so just about
Floyd Dixon’s complete recordings
Birth name Henry Roeland Byrd
Lived 1918–1980, recorded 1949–1980
Mardi Gras In New Orleans: Complete Recordings 1949-1962 (Jasmine 2013)
Well, that is neat, isn’t it. There are other good sets (from 1949-57 and so on) which are less complete – of course Jasmine Records knows what they’re doing.
From this glorious start, it descends into an unholy mess very quickly. Let’s see what the hell of anthologies and V/A-compilations has in stock for us:
Fess: The Professor Longhair Anthology (Rhino R2 71502, creating massive overlap in all directions, has some more mid-60s singles, MISSES the B-side „Bald Head“ from 1963)
The Best of Louisiana Music: Over 60 Minutes of the Best Mardi Gras Party Music! (Rounder CD AN 08, V/A, adds 1 more song „Big Chief, Pt. 1“, not on the above…)
New Orleans Soul ’60s: Watch Records (Mardi Gras Records MG 1047, V/A, provides 2 more sides plus 1 alternate „Big Chief“ cut from 1964)
And that’s it until 1964! Except the 1963 take of „Bald Head“ which seems not to have made it on and CD or LP.
As many others that somehow didn’t get caught up in the folk revival, our professor had to drop out of music in the late 1960s, becoming a janitor. His career was revived through the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1971 (there’s no record) – and it’s the albums and festival appearances from that point on, starting with 1974’s Rock ’n‘ Roll Gumbo (Blue Star 80.606) which wasn’t issued until 1977. His first reappearance on record after 1964 would be 1976’s V/A-comp New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 (Island ISLD 9424).
With those last two mentions, until 1976, these are
Professor Longhair’s complete recordings
Joe Hill Louis
Lived 1921–1957, recorded 1949–1957.
As is common with weirdos, Joe Hill Louis‘ discography is bits and pieces, but there’s a surprisingly consistent way to get virtually all of it. Start with this JSP-set:
King Of The One Man Bands – Key Postwar Cuts 1949-1954 (JSP 4208, 1949–1954, 2 CDs). This is a set that covers his entire and basic output, only leaving out a few important cuts available elsewhere (it’s been done by people in the know, after all) and missing some alternate takes.
The Be-Bop Boy (Bear Family BCD 15524, 1952-1953). This used to be the first sizeable collection and has overlap with the one above, but gives you important recordings for the Sun label that the later JSP-set leaves out (since available here).
Boogie in the Park (Ace CDCHD 803, 1950-1953). We’re in deep overlap territory with the jSP-set here, but it does have a few numbers not available there. It’s a bit unfortunate.
Other than that, there are some elusive singles of his later career that are traceable but never made it on CD, apparently, like his last 1957-record „Glamour Girl / Keep Your Arms Around Me“.
A tiny bit spotty, some overlap, but overall a nice and easy way to get 95% of his output with no worries.
Joe Hill Louis‘ complete recordings
Big Mama Thornton
Birth name Willie Mae Thornton
Lived 1926–1984, recorded 1950–1980(?)
The Essential Recordings (Primo PRMCD 6212, 1950–1961)
contains: The Chronological Classics Blues & Rhythm Series: Big Mama Thornton 1950 – 1953 (Classics 5088, 1950–1953)
Hound Dog – The Peacock Recordings ( MCA 10668 overlap, 1 additional track from 1955)
Then there’s this completely unfortunate constellation:
If I Have To Wreck L.A.: Kent & Modern Records – Blues Into The 60s Vol.2 (Ace CD 1577, V/A, 1 side from the elusive 1965-single Before Day / Me and My Chauffeur)
20 Great Blues Recordings of the 50s and 60s, Vol. 1 (Cascade Records 1005, V/A, has the other side from that single)
Sotoplay 0033-single „The Truth’ll Come to the Light / Summer Time“
Sotoplay 0039 „Tomcat“
Sotoplay 0050 „Mercy / Yes I Cried“
Speed 851 „You Don’t Need Me / Checkin‘ Out“
Movin 144 „There ain’t nothin‘ you can do Pt. 1 / There ain’t nothin‘ you can do Pt. 2“
Movin 145 „Don’t do me this way / Let’s go get stoned“
Here we go again:
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969 Volume 2 (Hip-O / B0003224-02, V/A, 1965, 1 track)
In Europe (Arhoolie F 1028 / Arhoolie CD 9056, 1966 album)
With the Muddy Waters Blues Band – 1966 (Arhoolie CD 9043, 1966 album)
John Hammond’s Spirituals to Swing 30th Anniversary Concert (1967) (Columbia G 30776, 1967 V/A, 3 tracks)
All Night Long They Play the Blues (Fantasy D 41361, 1967, V/A, contains 2 single sides „Because It’s Love / Life Goes On“)
Ball and Chain (Arhoolie 1039, 1968, 3 tracks, split release with Larry Williams and Lightnin‘ Hopkins)
Stronger Than Dirt / The Way It Is. (Charly / CDX 24), twofer, contains:
Stronger Than Dirt (Mercury SR 61225, 1969 album) and
The Way It Is (Mercury SR 61249, rec 1969, 1970 album).
The Blues… A Real Summit Meeting (Buddah BDS 5144, 1973 Newport Jazz Festival with Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Eddie „Cleanhead“ Vinson)
The Complete Vanguard Recordings: Big Mama Swings contains Jail (Vanguard VSD 79351, 1975 live album), Sassy Mama [live in Montreal] (Just a Memory JAM 9154-2, 1975 live album) and more from that 1975-session. These 1975-recordings are her last proper studio recordings and releases. From this point until her death in 1984, she played festivals and made TV-appearances, only a few of those performances have been released on record:
San Francisco Blues Festival Vol. 3 (SS-8011, V/A, 3 tracks, 1979)
and maybe there’s this or that additional track – I don’t know.
And there this CD, posthumously released 2002:
Mighty Crazy (Catfish KATCD225FP, with Lightnin‘ Hopkins. According to discogs „Most probably recorded 19th June, 1978 at the „Juneteenth Blues Spectacular“, Miller Outdoor Festival, Houston, Tx.“)
What can I say, this gets spotty in the mid-1960s since she recorded for obscure and badly preserved labels, and it get spotty in the mid-1970s until her death, because she played this song or two at scattered festivals whose publishing history is always difficult to follow – admittedly, this is a general problem of the myriad of blues festival and Various-Artists-records that document them.
So all in all, not too bad. Especially that „Essential“-CD collecting her early stuff is a trove.
Big Mama Thornton’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
Birth name Chester Arthur Burnett
Lived 1910–1976, recorded 1951–1973.
This one is not going down without MASSIVE overlap, if you get all of these. But there are literally single tracks appearing on only ONE compilation, even though the rest is just overlap. Very unfortunate, I feel sad.
You can very broadly divide his recordings into stuff for Chess and stuff for RPM/Modern
The largest (but incomplete Chess collection is this one):
Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960 (Hip-O Select B 001530902, 4 CDs, goes for about 170 right now)
For RPM/Modern, go with these:
Memphis Days – The Definitive Edition Vol. 1 (Bear Family / BCD 15460)
Memphis Days – The Definitive Edition Vol. 2 (Bear Family / BCD 15500)
Rides Again (Flair / V2-86295, 1951/52 RPM/Modern). This one contains 5 tracks that aren’t anywhere else, three of which are alternate takes of other songs, and I think „My Friends“ is actually a version of „Stealing My Clothes“. So there is really only „Dog Me Around“ as a main reason to get this one…
The Complete RPM & Chess Singles As & Bs: 1951-1962 (Acrobat / ACTRCD9039, RPM cuts, large overlap with the above but has some tracks nowhere else)
Then it’s Chess again:
The Real Folk Blues / More Real Folk Blues (cuts from 1953-55 and 56 to 67)
Howlin‘ Wolf / Moanin‘ in the Moonlight (both albums also on Four Classic Albums (Avid Roots AMSC 1162) with two albums by –>MUDDY WATERS)
Ain’t Gonna Be Your Dog (remainder of chess vaults, essential)
The Chess Box (this yet again creates massive overlap, but has a few 1964-1973 Chess tracks that aren’t collected anywhere else. we’re talking about a dozen tracks though)
and that should cover all his studio stuff until 1964 (and for Chess a bit later) and some more stuff, sadly with overlap.
From 1964 you’ll have to get a few live albums and V/A-comps (American blues festival) and his individual recordings.
Apart from that, these are – with large overlaps of the noted collections above –
Howlin‘ Wolf’s complete recordings until at least 1964.
Sonny Boy Williamson
aka Sonny Boy Williamson II, Rice Miller, Aleck Miller, Alex Miller
Lived 1912(?)–1965, recorded 1951–1965.
The Classic Sides 1951-1954: Cool Cool Blues (JSP 7766, 1951–1954)
The Chronological Sonny Boy Williamson 1953-1956 (Classics 5188, 1953-1956)
The Chess Years (Charly CD RED BOX I, 1955-1964)
The 1979-LP below possibly contains alternate takes of „Don’t Make a Mistake“ and „Find Another Woman“, but I wouldn’t bet on it. If not, then it is made obsolete by the above collections, so let’s find out:
Don’t Make a Mistake: Unreleased & Rare Recordings 1953-1963 (Blues Ball 2004, 1953-1963)
–> these four above make obsolete: Clownin‘ With the World
Chicago Blues Harmonicas (Paula Records PCD-7 FLYRIGHT, 1991, V/A, 2 tracks from 1958)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 (Hip-O Records B0001030-02, V/A, 1963, 2 tracks)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969 Volume 2 (Hip-O Records B0003224-02, V/A, 1963, 2 tracks)
The Unissued 1963 Blues Festival (Red Lightnin‘ RL 0060, 1963, 5 tracks, with Matt „Guitar“ Murphy and Memphis Slim)
American Folk Blues Festival ’63 (Fontana 681 510 ZL, V/A, 1963, 2 tracks)
American Folk Blues Festival ’64 (Fontana TL 5225, V/A, 1964, 2 tracks)
Lost Blues Tapes/More American Folk Blues Festival 1963-1965 (ACT 6000-2, V/A, 1963/1964)
Sonny Boy Williamson & Walter Horton – Solo Harp (Document Records DLP 575, 1963, split release with Walter Horton.
Bye Bye, Bird…Solo Blues (Scout SC 1, V/A, 1963/1964, 3 tracks)
Final Sessions 1963-4 (Blue Night Records BN 073-1668, 1963/1964. This covers: The Last Sessions 1963, Rarity RLP 1)
Portraits In Blues Vol. 4 (Storyville SLP 158, 1963)
The Blues Of Sonny Boy Williamson (Vol.2) (Storyville SLP 170, 1963)
–> these two make obsolete: Keep It To Ourselves (Alligator Records ALCD 4787)
Blues Masters Vol. 12: The Storyville Sessions 1963 (Storyville STCD 8012, 1963)
In Paris (GNP Crescendo GNP-10003, 1963, with Memphis Slim)
Sonny Boy Williamson & The Yardbirds (Repertoire REP 4776-WY, 1963/1964) –> these are the entire recordings with the Yardbirds.
The Animals With Sonny Boy Williamson (Charly CD CHARLY 215, 1963) –> these are the recordings with the Animals.
Chris Barber Presents … Lost & Found Vol. 3 (Blues Legacy 5069X, 1964, credited to Chris Barber)
Don’t Send Me No Flowers (Marmalade 607004 / 608004, 1965. With Brian Auger & the Trinity, Joe Harriot, Alan Skidmore, Jimmy Page)
Blues Classics By „The Original“ Sonny Boy Williamson (Arhoolie CD 310, 1965 – last radio recordings)
Well, I am not convinced these are his entire recordings. His 1960s-recordings, mostly appearances and performances in the European blues revival circuit, are as scattered and hard to track down as possible. He also recorded tracks with the same title dozens of times, making it hard to cross-reference without tracking down every possibly redundant issue. Finally, there’s only so much that discographies can do – with his scattered recording, it’s very likely that this or that track has been forgotten or that new live material cropped up that I am not aware of. But all in all, this is very good for his early period, although we’re dealing with major overlap. The JSP-set and the Chess-set are just splendid.
Sonny Boy Williamson’s complete recording
Lived 1918–1963, recorded 1951–1963.
The Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956 (ACE aboxcd 4, 1951–1956)
King of the Slide Guitar: The Complete Chess, Chief & Fire Sessions (Charly / CD RED BOX4, 1951, 1957–1963)
Whose Muddy Shoes [The Original Chess Masters] (MCA / CHD-9114, some overlap, but adds two Chess sides and John Brim tracks)
You will find other compilations with „Catfish Blues“ on them, which isn’t here. This was the B-side to „Dust My Broom“ and was performed and recorded by Bobo Thomas, without Elmore James.
You will also find „Black Snake Blues“ on some compilations which is probably a mistitled „Black Snake Slide“ which in turn is an alternate title of „Up Jumped Elmore“. So don’t worry about these.
Elmore James’s complete recordings
Big Walter Horton
aka Shakey Horton
Lived 1921–1981, recorded solo 1951–1980.
One of the weirder discographies to track down because for all his influence and stature as a blues giant, Horton mainly played „with“ other people – people that sang and/or played guitar, making them the „recording artist“. Sure, Horton escaped this more than most other harmonica players from his period, but it’s still a hunt on Various-Artists-compilations, weirdly co-credited split releases and collections of all sort. As such, I’m not at all confident this is complete. This is also one of the discographies I couldn’t quite pursue after 1970 since I (as of now) lack documentation. But here we go. Don’t expect a lot of nicely compiled albums or sets here.
You can start out with the inevitable JSP-set:
Blues Harmonica Giant: Classic Sides 1951-1956 (JSP 2305, 1951-1956)
This set contains the tracks from The Sun Blues Box: Blues, R&B and Gospel Music in Memphis (Bear Family Records BEA 17310, 2013, V/A, 5 tracks from 1951, including his first single. These tracks are pretty exclusively available here). For more of this period (as a sideman), check –>JOE LOUIS HILL; Mouth Harp Maestro (Ace CDH 252, 1951) – note that at the end of this, there are two or three tracks don’t really show up in any discography – these might be just retitled tracks from the numerous alternate tracks, many of these show up with slightly different titles from this period; and Memphis Recordings 1951 (P-Vine PCD-3008, 1951-1956? – overlap with above, but some other hard to find tracks).
Harmonica Blues Kings (Delmark DD 712, 1954, with Alfred Harris aka Alfred „Blues King“ Harris)
Above is everything from 1951 until 1956, maybe this or that alternate take missing. At least two sides never made it onto a CD.
The Soul of Blues Harmonica (Argo 4037, 1964. Horton’s debut album)
King of the Harmonica Players (Delta LP 1000, elusive 1972-compilation with scattered recordings, at least two or more unique tracks from 1966-1972 here)
Southern Comfort (Sire LP 97011, 1969 album, credited to Southern Comfort)
With Big Walter Horton (Testament 5015, 1969, by Johnny Shines)
Really Chicago’s Blues (Adelphi 1005, 1969 – co-credited to other blues greats)
Modern Chicago Blues (Testament 5008, 1962, V/A, 2 tracks)
Down Home Harp (Testament 6011, 1962, V/A, 2 tracks)
I Blueskvarter Chicago 1964, Volume One ( (Jefferson SBACD 12653/4, V/A, 1964, 6 tracks with Robert Nighthawk)
I Blueskvarter: 1964, Volume Three ( (Jefferson SBACD 12658/9, V/A, 1964, 3 tracks)
Blues Southside Chicago (Delmark LK 4748, 1964, V/A, 1 track)
Chicago Anthology – Have A Good Time – Chicago Blues (Sunnyland KS-101, V/A, 1964, 2 tracks)
The Blues Revival Volume 1 1963-1969 (DOCD-5697, 1965, V/A, 4 tracks. There’s an extra track „Things Ain’t What They Used to Be“ on Document DLP 575, but I couldn’t verify due to inaccessability)
American Folk Blues Festival ’65 (Fontana 885 422 TY, V/A, 1965, 1 track)
Lost Blues Tapes/More American Folk Blues Festival 1963-1965 (ACT 6000-2, V/A, 1965 or ACT(G) CD 9204, 1 track)
Chicago / The Blues / Today! (Vanguard VSD 79216/7/8, V/A, 1965, 1 track)
The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions 1967-1969 (Columbia 494641-2, 1969, by Fleetwood Mac, about 8 tracks with Horton)
Spivey’s Blues Parade (Spivey LP 1012, 1969, V/A, 1 track, see –> VICTORIA SPIVEY)
Spivey’s Blues Cavalcade (Spivey LP 1015, 1970, V/A, 1 track, see–> VICOTIRA SPIVEY)
American Folk Blues Festival 1970 (Scout Sc-7, 1970, V/A, 2 tracks)
Until 1970 (and until I do an update):
Big Walter Horton’s complete recordings
birth name Eddie Jones
Lived 1926–1959, recorded 1951–1958.
The Chronological Guitar Slim 1951-1954 (Classics / CLASSICS 5139, 1951–1954, 21 tracks)
Sufferin‘ Mind (Specialty / SPCD-7007-2, 1953–1955, 26 tracks)
these two have about a dozen tracks overlap, but there’s no other way to get all of his early work.
And these are his remaining sessions (for Atco):
Atco Sessions (Atlantic / 81760-2, 1956–1958)
And that’s them in a neat package:
Guitar Slim’s Complete Recordings
Lived 1928–1958, recorded 1951–1958.
There is no Document series for him (the involved labels are too big), so you’ll have to do with the JSP-box:
The Complete Chuck Willis 1951-1957 (JSP / JSP2303, 3 Cds, 78 tracks)
If you have a massive problem with JSP, the next best thing is probably this great set including all his Columbia/Okeh recordings:
Wails! The Complete Recordings, 1951-1956 (Sundazed / SC 11122, 2 Cds, 51 tracks)
But it will then drive you stark raving mad that there’s no additional disc to cover his essential work for Atlantic.
So the recommended approach remains the JSP-box, as it truly contains
Chuck Willis‘ complete recordings
Lived 1929–1954, recorded 1951–1954.
The Chronological Classics Blues & Rhythm Series: Johnny Ace 1951 – 1954 (Classics 5318, 1951–1954)
Johnny Ace’s complete recordings
Lived 1930–2013, recorded 1951–2003.
Unfortunately, his earliest few sides are scattered throughout several V/A-compilations. These songs are „Crying All Night Long“, „Dry Up Baby“, „Crying“, „A Letter from a Trench in Korea“, „Drifting from Town to Town“, „Love My Baby“ and „Good Lovin“ (some of these exist in several takes). You’ll have to hunt these down somehow.
His following years on Duke are excellently documented:
I Pity the Fool: The Duke Recordings, Vol. One (MCA / MCAD2-10665, 1952–60)
Turn On Your Love Light: The Duke Recordings Vol. 2 (MCA / MCAD2-10957, 1960–1964)
That Did It!: The Duke Recordings Volume 3 (MCA / MCAD2-11444, 1965–1972)
This is everything he recorded from 1952 to 72. What more do you want?
Well, and it’s the albums from here on, starting with 1973’s His California Album (Dunhill / DSX 50163).
And for what it’s worth,
Bobby Bland’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 1921–1999, recorded 1953–1995.
Classic Cuts 1946 to 1953: The Early Recordings of One of the Biggest Talents in the Blues (JSP / JSP7728 or JSP77207, 4CDs, contains almost everything until 1952, despite its title. Misses about 9 songs and very few alternate takes)
Missing songs are: wicked old world, down beat shuffle, bad luck blues, i’m going away, three o’clock in the morning, there is a time for everything, raggedy daddy blues, goodbye baby, black gold
I’m A Night Owl, Vol.2 (Acrobat ACR291, overlap, but adds the remaining half dozen 1953/54 recordings)
The Complete Chess Masters (Chess / CHD2-9394, 1954–1963) – the complete Chess recordings in chronological order. I love these kind of sets.
The Complete Kent Recordings 1964-1968 (P-Vine Records 3066/9) – and again: his entire Kent catalogue including the albums up to that point. This is going splendidly.
I’ve Got the Blues & Then Some: 1969-1971 (Westside / WESD 234, Jewel/Kent sides 1969–1971)
And from here, you need to get the albums, starting with 1975’s The Ol‘ Blues Singer (GS 1006)– except 1978s Lovemaker (PCD-22309), which you should get on
The Final Kent Years )(Ace / CDCHD 831). This creates some overlap with the late-1960s collections but adds the album and some previously unreleased stuff.
Pretty neat. Reconsider Lowell.
Lowell Fulson’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 1929–1994, recorded 1953–1980s
Gonna Tell You a Story: Complete Singles As & Bs 1953-1962 (Jasmine Records JASCD 733, 2 CDs, 40 tracks), contains all his Fury-related singles, that’s 99% of his output until 1962.
His mid-1960s period is badly collected.
Out of all collections, this one has the most of the songs you need from 62-67, but not all:
An Introduction to Wilbert Harrison (Fuel 2000 / 061599). It also creates some overlap.
The Small Labels (Krazy Kat / KK 7439), some overlap, 1963-1965 recordings
Can’t locate 1965-single „Sugar Lump / Don’t Take It So Hard“, 1967-single „No One’s Love But Yours / Mini-Parade“.
For the rest, seek out:
Let’s Work Together (Sue / SSLP 8801, 1969 album)
Anything You Want (Wet Soul / WS-1001, 1970 album with recordings starting 1960)
Shoot You Full of Love (Juggernaut / JUG ST/LP 8803, 1970 album)
Wilbert Harrison (Buddah / BDS 5092, 1971 album)
Soul Food Man (Chelsea / CHL 523, 1976 album)
And that’s that, as far as I can tell at least. Harrison is mightily badly documented after the mid-1970s, because he had virtually no commercial success or relevance anymore. I read he performed into the 1980s, but it’s hard to tell online, there’s no good sources. There also doesn’t seem to be a lot of print about him.
Well, well. I’m not quite happy with this, but for now:
Wilbert Harrison’s complete recordings
Lived 1934–1998, recorded 1953–1996
See also –>Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
Blues Hit Big Town (Delmark / DD-640, 1953/54)
Messin‘ with the Kid: The Chief/Profile/U.S.A. Sessions 1957-1963 (P-Vine Records – PCD-24039, 1957–1963)
After this, he started recording albums with and without Buddy Guy. For his following solo output and the records with Buddy Guy starting 1966, you’ll have to get the albums, starting with:
Hoodoo Man Blues (Delmark / DL-612, 1965, credited to Junior Wells‘ Chicago Blues Band).
But until 1965, these are
Junior Wells‘ complete recordings
Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
see also –> Buddy Guy and –>Junior Wells
They started recording in the 1960s together, although their first double-billed album wouldn’t appear until 1972. Their last live gig together in 1993 was issued in 1998, after Junior’s death.
Anyhow, check their solo entries on this list for their stuff up until the mid-1960s – for their albums together, you’ll just have to get the studio and live albums and archival sessions one by one, starting with
Play the Blues (ATCO / SD 33-364, 1972). Well well well.
Birth name James Milton Campbell Jr.
Lived 1934–2005, recorded 1953–2005
There are these important sets to start you off:
Anthology 1953-1961 (Varèse Sarabande 066359, 1953-1961)
Running Wild Blues (Charly SNAP 262, 1953–1954) – there’s overlap with above, but has a lot more tracks from that period.
The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings (Ace CDCH2 1090, V/A, 1956, „only“ his 4 sides for Meteor and lots of other good stuff by other people). These three collections above make these two (that are by themselves good) completely redundant: The Sun Masters (Rounder SS 35), Raise a Little Sand (Red Lightnin‘ RL-0011, 1956–1958).
The above covers his entire output before he joined Chess in 1961. Below is his Chess / Checkers output until 1970.
Welcome to the Club: The Essential Chess Recordings (Chess CHD2-9350) – one of the largest and arguably the most important collection of these years. Several tracks solely or best available here.
Greatest Hits (MCA CHD-9386, 1961–1969) – OBSOLETE
Chess Rhythm & Roll (Chess CHD4-9352, V/A, only two tracks, but one of them ONLY here: 1961’s „Saving My Love for You“)
Global Roots: Chess Blues (HMV 544 540-2, V/A, two tracks, one of them uniquely here „One of These Old Days“ – this collection is completely elusive)
We’re Gonna Make It (Checker LP-2995, 1965 album, mostly overlap, but two unique tracks)
The Complete Checker Hit Singles (Connoisseur VSOP CD 351 – mostly overlap, but two unique tracks. This is dreadful).
Sings Big Blues (Checker LPS-3002, 1966 album – next to no overlap!)
Grits Ain’t Groceries ( Checker CRLS 4552, 1969 album – mostly overlap, but two unique tracks)
If Walls Could Talk (Checker LPS-3012, 1970 album, but get the bonus tracks reissue – they are unique to this)
The Checker Years 1961-70 (P-Vine Special PLP-6059/6060 – large collection, larger overlap – but about half a dozen tracks only here)
Little Milton (Chess 2ACMB-204 – large collection, ever larger overlap – but about half a dozen tracks only here)
Chess Sing a Song of Soul 4 (digital V/A-release by Geffen / Universal 2018, contains Milton’s elusive „Sometime“)
In the Beginning… (Checker LPS-3014 – V/A, contains one Milton-track, the elusive „Follow the Lamb“)
This is a nightmare. With at least three large compilations that are almost but not quite redundant to each other, my heart bleeds. Anyway. Can’t locate „Don’t Leave Her“ and this or that alternate take on LP/CD
Little Milton enjoyed a long and prosperous career after 1970, but this I will update another time.
Up until 1970, this should be 99.9% of
Little Milton’s complete recordings
Lived 1915–1992, recorded solo 1954–1989(?)
see also –>The Big Three Trio
see also –> Memphis Slim & Willie Dixon
The Original Wang Dang Doodle: The Chess Recordings & More (MCA / CHD-9353, 1954–1955). This contains the six tracks and more performed by Dixon that are also on his The Chess Box (Chess / CHD2 16500).
I Got 29 Ways – Blues Roots Series, Vol. 12 (Chess – 6.24802, 1955–1962)
I Am the Blues (Columbia / CS 9987, 1970 album)
Old Town Blues – Downtown Sides (Ace 469, 1957, V/A, 2 tracks)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969 Volume 2 (Hip-O / B0003224-02, V/A, 1962, 1-2 tracks)
American Folk Blues Festival – Live in Paris 20 Octobre 1962 (Fremeaux 3CD 5614, 1962, V/A, 3 tracks)
The Best of the Blues Singers (Denon 8530, 1962, V/A, 1 track, credited to Memphis Slim)
The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 (Hip-O Records B0001030-02, 1963, V/A, 1 track)
American Folk Blues Festival ’63 (Fontana 681 510 ZL, 1963, 2 tracks)
Chicago Blues ((Spivey 1003, V/A, 1964, 2 tracks)
American Folk Blues Festival ’64 (Fontana TL 5225 / Optimism LR CD-2024, V/A, 2 tracks)
Lost Blues Tapes/More American Folk Blues Festival 1963-1965 (ACT 6000-2, V/A, 1964, 2 tracks)
Polish Radio Jazz Archives Vol. 19 – Big City Blues & Howlin‘ Wolf in Warsaw (PR / PRCD 1871, 1964, V/A, 3 tracks)
American Folk Blues (AMIGA / 850 043, 1964, V/A, with Hubert Sumlin & Sunnyland Slim)
Encore! for the Chicago Blues (Spivey 1009, 1965, V/A, 1 track)
American Folk Blues Festival 1970 (Scout Sc-7, 1970, V/A, 2 tracks)
This is all his available solo stuff until 1970 (apart from unissued things or takes that never made it on a LP or CD).
From here on, you need to hunt down his solo live and studio albums starting with
Catalyst (1973), there really are no corners to cut.
As his solo stuff goes, this is a decent approximation to
Willie Dixon’s complete recordings
Memphis Slim & Willie Dixon
Recorded as a credited duo 1960–1968.
See also –> Willie Dixon
See also –> Memphis Slim
Dixon and Slim recorded a few albums and live albums as a credited duo, and there are some live appearances scattered throught the American Folk Blues Festival discs. It’s a bit quirky – in their discographies one album („Willie’s Blues“) shows up under Dixon (because his name goes first), another album („Songs of…“) goes under Memphis Slim, and some albums just seem to be forgotten entirely. The list here is really just their album and live album output.
Willie’s Blues (Bluesville BV-1003, 1960)
The Blues Every Which Way ( Verve / V6-3007, 1961)
Songs of Memphis Slim & Willie Dixon (Folkways FA 2385)
Pete Seeger at the Village Gate: With Memphis Slim and Wee Willie Dixon (Folkways FA 2450, 1960, credited to Pete Seeger)
Memphis Slim & Willie Dixon at the Village Gate (Folkways FA 2386, 1962)
Aux Trois Mailletz (Polydor 46 131, 1963)
So, apart from scattered live tracks:
Mephis Slim & Willie Dixon’s complete recordings
Lived 1923–1992, recorded 1953–1992.
Lived 1923–1992, recorded 1953–1992.
Hand Me Down Blues, Chicago Style (1953, Relic LP 8024, V/A, 2 first recordings)
Chicago Guitar Killers (1953, Blue Night BN 073 1669, V/A, 2 tracks)
Bad Luck Blues (1953–1962, Music Avenue 250321)
The Complete King & Bobbin Recordings (1953–1963, Collectables COL-CD-2887), creates overlap with above, but each have tracks the other doesn’t.
The Ultimate Collection (1953–1984, Rhino R2 71268)
Born Under a Bad Sign (1964–1967, Stax STX-34334-02). His 1967 breakthrough album. This reissue also contains bonus tracks nowhere else to be found.
From 1968 onwards
it’s just the studio and live albums, starting with
Live Wire / Blues Power (1968 live, Stax 2003)
But until 1968,
Albert King’s complete recordings
Lived 1924 or 1930-1970, recorded 1954-1970
The Complete Candid Otis Spann / Lightnin‘ Hopkins Sessions (Mosaic MD3-139, 1960. Robert Lockwood on guitar and St. Louis Jimmy Oden takes the vocals on some tracks).
Otis Spann: Rarest Recordings (JSP 1070) (1960)
Good Morning Mr. Blues (AP / CAPR 3016, 1963, same as Blues Masters, Vol. 10)
The Blues of Otis Spann / Cracked Spanner Head (BGO Records BGOCD668, containing the 1964 and -69 album)
Take Me Back Home (Black Magic / BM 9004, 1964 session)
The Blues Never Die! (Prestige / PR 7719, 1965 album)
Otis Spann’s Chicago Blues ( Testament / T-2211, 1966 album)
Live the Life (Testament / TCD 6001, 1965 live)
Down to Earth / The Bluesway Recordings (MCA / MCAD-11202, all Bluesway recordings, contains the albums The Blues Is Where It’s At (Bluesway / BLS 6003, 1967) and The Bottom of the Blues (Bluesway / BLS 6013, 1968)
Cryin‘ Time (Vanguard / VSD 6514, 1969 album)
The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (Sony-BMG / 82876822902, 1968/1969, contains 1969-album The Biggest Thing Since Colossus, Blue Horizon / 7-63217, and sessions)
Sweet Giant of the Blues (BluesTime / BTS 9006, 1970 album)
Last Call (MCAT1014, 1970 live)
Conversation With The Blues (Decca LK 4664V/A, 1960, 4 songs) – CD included with the book „Conversation with the Blues“ by Paul Oliver, Second Edition, published by Cambridge University Press, 1997.
American Folk Blues Festival ’63 (Fontana 681 510 ZL, V/A, 1963, 1 song)
missing „Going Down Slow (alt version)“
Raw Blues (Ace of Clubs / SCL-1220, V/A, 1964 tracks)
Blues Now (Decca / LK 4681, V/A, 1964 tracks)
La grande storia del rock 84 (Armando Curcio / GSR-84, V/A, 1964 sessions)
Chicago / The Blues / Today! Vol. 1 (Vanguard / VRS-9216, V/A, 1965 session)
The Everlasting Blues vs. Otis Spann (Spivey / LP 1013, V/A, 1969)
Up In The Queens Pad! A Musical Parlor Social Deluxe!! (Spivey 1031, V/A, 1969)
And there are 4 more songs by Spann on three LPs credited to Muddy Waters that are apparently so rare that I only found them in a Willie Dixon-discography. They’re called Muddy Waters: Rare Live Recordings Vol 1, 2 and 3 (Black Bear (E) LP 901, 902 and 903). Good luck finding those.
Also missing: 1960’s „The Bible Don’t Lie / Los Angeles Midnite Groove“
Otis Spann’s complete recordings
Lived 1934–1986, recorded solo 1954–1958.
In the Chapel: 30 of Her Greatest Hits! (Blue City 812)
I don’t actually know if these are really all her songs, but I didn’t find any additional material on any other compilation so far. Quite amazing given she made the original „Got My Mojo Working“. Did she really just record 30 sides? But according to Fancourt/McGraths Blues Discography, there are really only about four or five tracks missing, but those seem to never have seen the light of LPs or CDs.
Well, she recorded at least some more with the gospel group The Colemanaires starting 1949, but they’re even worse documented.
For her solo output, these are
Ann Cole’s complete recordings
Lived 1924-1997, recorded solo 1955-1997
Rogers recorded a few sides before he went to Chess. These sides are badly documented and compiled, only some of them are available as single scattered tracks on different random V/A-compilations. These sides are:
„Round About Boogie“ (1946, Harlem, not credited to Rogers but Sunny Land Slim)
„Little Store Blues (tk. 1)“ (1947, Barrelhouse 04)
„Little Store Blues (tk. 2)“ (1947, Barrelhouse 04)
„Ludella“ (1949, Biograph 12035)
„That’s all right“ (1949, Delmark)
„I’m In Love“ (1949, Delmark)
Have fun hunting for these. This is followed by the perfect
The Complete Chess Recordings (Chess / CHD2-9372, 1955-1959)
Believe it or not, but Rogers didn’t record in the 1960s.
Then there are the elusive 1970 sides „Ludella“, „Back door friend“ and „What Have I Done“ all featured on the CD-reissue (Testament 5028) of the 1977 LP
Chicago Blues at Home (Testament / TCD 5028).
From here on, you need to get his individual albums, starting with 1973’s
Gold Tailed Bird (Capitol / 7243 8 33916 2 2)
Jimmy Rogers’ complete recordings
Recorded 1955–2007(?), lived 1928–2008
This is a rather unfortunate case in some respects. There is a fantastic collection of all his Chess-recordings from 1955–1974. This is what you want, a 12-CD-box sets. There might be this or that Chess-track missing, possibly, but it’s more than anywhere else. It also is rare, unavailable and goes for about 600 last time I checked:
The Chess Years (Charly R&B – CD Red Box 8, 12 cds, 1955-1974).
Well that is too bad! If you can’t shell out, the next best thing you can buy is this:
6 Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles, Sessions & Live Tracks (Real Gone Jazz / RGMCD017, 4 cds, most of Chess stuff 1955–1961)
And then we have to go on another rampage of tediousness:
Rare & Well Done (Chess – CHD 9331, 1955–1968)
The Sullivan Years – Rhythm & Blues Revue (TVT CD 9447, V/A, 1 track, 1955)
Bo Diddley & Company (Checker / LP 2985, 1963, CD-version)
Hey! Bo Diddley (Instant / CD INS 5038, adds 1 track)
The Originator (Checker / LPS-3001, 1966 album)
Wrinkles – Classic and Rare Chess Instrumentals (Chess / CH-9293, V/A, 1 track 1961)
Bo Diddley’s a Twister (Checker / LP 2982, 1962 album)
Two Great Guitars (Checker / LP-2991, 1964, with Chuck Berry)
This is it until May 1961. It is already quite spotty, I couldn’t locate some of the referred LPs, couldn’t locate some track titles, and of course the tracks only on the 12-CD-box set are missing. All in all, we’re talking between one and two dozen tracks from these years missing (among those about a dozen obscure live and alternate tracks). So it’s not too bad, I guess, but the torture continues.
Bo Diddley (Checker / LP 2984, 1962 album)
… and I just noticed that the discographies start to count down his albums from pretty much this point on. There’s no better way to collect his output – basically because the CD-market snubbed Bo Diddley. Two more big CD-sets (which I don’t put up here because both are highly selective anthologies that only mess up the order if you’re keen on getting everything) and that’s all they did for him so far. So, well, this is it. Quite disappointing, but if anyone wants to send me that Chess-box-set mentioned above, let me know.
Bo Diddley’s complete recordings, until about 1961, but not even really that, and well… I tried.
Lived 1935-1997, recorded solo 1957–1989 (as far as I can tell)
The Birth of Modern Blues (P-Vine Records 5406, V/A, contains his two earliest 1957 tracks)
Complete Early Recordings exists as a professionally assembled mp3-compilation (not on CD). This was done by expert Gérard Herzhaft:
It contains all his recordings from 1957 until 1969 except for an elusive Giant-side called „Fen-Ton a Soul“.
Mellow Fellow (Charly R&B / CD BM 41, this seems to collect all his work for Seventy 7 Records, including the 1972-released LP Monday Morning Boogie & Blues (Seventy 7 / S 7-2001-S)).
This is all the stuff up until 1970. From here, get his albums, starting with 1974’s Somebody Loan Me a Dime (Alligator / AL 4705)
Fenton Robinson’s complete recordings
Lived 1935–2017, recorded 1954, 1961–2013.
You’ll need to get all the albums, there is literally no compilation even collecting parts of his discography entirely. Hm.
Birth name Jamesetta Hawkins
Lived 1938–2012, recorded 1954–2012.
This all starts with a 1954-single when she was still called Miss Peaches: Calling Moody Field- Part 1 / Calling Moody Field- Part 2 (Groove / 0009). Let me know if you find it on any CD, and good luck with that.
Then there are several large, but incomplete collections. The leanest way to go is this one:
The Anthology (NotNow Music NOT3CD093, 1955–1962, 3 CDs) – containing her first four proper albums, (At Last! (1960, Argo / LP 4003), The Second Time Around (Argo 4011, 1961), Etta James (Argo 4103, 1962), Etta James Sings for Lovers (Argo 4018, 1962)), and ALL additional singles up to and including 1962, this is the best available set for her early years, with no competition.
The Complete Modern and Kent Recordings (Ace / CDCM2 1085, 1955–1961). About 24 songs overlap, with above but gives you some more singles, some alternate takes, some obscure (unissued?) stuff – about 18 additional tracks!
If you get these two sets, it’s her entire catalogue up until 1962, including her first two compilations: Miss Etta James (Crown / CLP-5209, 1961) and Twist With Etta James (Crown / CLP-5250, 1962). These are quite obscure, obviously hadn’t been issued on CD so far and I suspect it features some old tracks that had been retitled, which was Crown’s way to cash in… but anyway, there are a few additional non-single tracks. We’re off to a fairly good start.
From here on out, you’ll have to get the studio and live albums, starting with 1964’s live Rocks the House (MCA / CHD-9184) and 1965’s studio The Queen of Soul (Argo 4040). Be sure to get the CD-reissues with bonus tracks of each album, as James continued to put out a large amount of non-album singles.
And that’s it, there’s no other way.
The non-completist might want to get the terrifically crafted The Chess Box (MCA / 088 112 288-2) which adds almost 50 songs to the stuff above from between 1963 to 1974. But it’s just a fraction of what she put out in that period.
For five albums of her very late output from 1998-2003, you can get the always well-priced
Original Album Classics (Sony 88691901252), containing Life, Love & the Blues (Private / 01005-82162-2, 1998), Heart of a Woman (Private / 010005 82180 2, 1999), Matriarch of the Blues (Private / 01005-82205-2, 2000), Blue Gardenia (Private / 01934 11580 2, 2001) and Burnin‘ Down the House (Private / 0193411633 2, 2002).
Anyway, until at least 1962
Etta James’s complete recordings
Polka Dot Slim
aka Vince Monroe, birth name Willie Monroe Vincent
Lived 1926–1981, recorded 1956–1966
Rhythm ’n‘ Bluesin by the Bayou (Ace CDCHD 1363, V/A, 1956–1959, 4 tracks)
Going to New Orleans: The Legendary Jay Miller Sessions Volume 38 (Flyright (E) Fly 601, V/A, 1 track from 1956).
Gonna Head For Home: The Legendary Jay Miller Sessions Volume 2 (Flyright (E) Fly 517, V/A, 3 tracks from 1959)
Downhome Delta Harmonica (Deltacat 1003, split release with –>Forest City Joe. A single from 1959, one from 1964, and three tracks from 1959 which are probably also on Rooster Crowed for Day: The Legendary Jay Miller Sessions – Volume 3 (Flyright 518, V/A))
Bluesin‘ by the Bayou – Rough ’n‘ Tough (Ace CDCHD 1403, V/A, 2 tracks, 1959)
Bluesin‘ by the Bayou: I’m Not Jiving (Ace CDCHD 1471, V/A, 1 track 1959)
could not locate „Give It Up / If I Had My Life to Live Over“ (Excello single Ex 2089, 1956)
could not locate „Go Ahead Slim / Trick Bag“ (Apollo 009/10, 1966 single)
Polka Dot Slim’s complete recordings
Lived 1934–1976, recorded 1956–1975
Early 1956-single for El Bee label „That’s What You Think / Country Boy“ is available on this or that sampler. This will lead to some overlap with his excellently catalogued work by label:
Three discs with all his King and Federal records:
The Very Best of Freddy King, Vol. 1 (Collectables – COL-CD-2824)
The Very Best of Freddie King, Vol. 2 (Collectables – COL-CD-2825)
The Very Best of Freddy King, Vol. 3 (Collectables – COL-CD-2826)
These collect all his work and albums up to and including 1965.
Then there are the Cotillion albums:
Freddie King Is a Blues Master (Cotillion / SD 9004, 1969 album)
My Feeling for the Blues (Cotillion / SD 9016, 1970 album)
Double-disc with all his Shelter records (three albums plus bonus):
King of the Blues (Shelter / 7243 8 34972 2 5, contains Getting Ready… (Shelter / SW-8905, 1971 album), Texas Cannonball (Shelter / SW-8913 , 1972 album), Woman Across the River (Shelter / SW-8910, 1973 album)).
So, everything up to and including 1973.
Now it’s just his two remaining studio albums:
Larger Than Life (Cotillion / SD 9016, 1970 album)
Burglar (RSO / SO 4803, 1974 album)
And from here on out, you just need to hunt down the live albums – a lot of those have also been released during the 1990s.
And that is them, allowing you to cut large corners and getting a good chunk of it in a very concise way!
Freddie King’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 1924–1970, recorded 1957–1970.
Buzzin‘ the Blues: The Complete Slim Harpo (Bear Family / BCD17339)
Slim Harpo’s complete recordings
Born 1936, started solo recording 1957
see also –> Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
This is the Beginning [The Aritistic & U.S.A. Sessions 1958-1963] (P-Vine Records – PCD-24044, 1957/8–1963, no Chess recordings)
The Complete Chess Studio Recordings (Chess / CHD2 9337, 1960–1967, all Chess records)
Folk Festival of the Blues (Argo / LP-4031, V/A, 2 tracks, 1964)
And from here on out (1967), you’ll have to get his albums.
You should cut a little corner by getting
The Complete Vanguard Recordings (Vanguard / 3VCD 178/80-2, 1968–72) which contains three albums from 1968-72 plus some other tracks: A Man and the Blues (Vanguard / VSD-79272, 1968 album), This Is Buddy Guy! (Vanguard / VSD-79290, 1968 live album) and Hold That Plane! (Vanguard / VNP 5315, 1969, rel. 1972). He also recorded for Chess during this time, so don’t miss those albums.
But until about 1967, this really is all his solo stuff:
Buddy Guy’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 1893–1987, recorded 1958–1980s(?).
No better way than to get the individual albums, but it’s doable.
Lived 1933–2003, recorded 1958–1993.
Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Singles (1958, BMG / 4050538320282) contains here entire first Bethlehem sessions, that’s the album Little Girl Blue (Bethlehem / BCP-6028, 1958) and three more remaining tracks which are also on Nina Simone and Her Friends (Bethlehem / BCP-6041). You might as well just get the latter for those three tracks, because the album itself is on this box set:
Essential Original Albums (1958–1961, Master of Music 545502) contains Little Girl Blue (Bethlehem / BCP-6028, 1958), Nina Simone Sings Ellington (Colpix / SCP 425, 1962), Nina Simone at Town Hall (Colpix / CP 409, 1959), The Amazing Nina Simone (Colpix / CP 407, 1959), Nina Simone at Newport (Colpix / SCP 412, 1960) and Forbidden Fruit (Colpix / SCP 419, 1961). This gathers some essential material she recorded for Colpix. Sadly, there is no comprehensive Colpix-box (yet).
Four Women: The Nina Simone Philips Recordings (1964-1967, Verve / 440 065 021-2) contains Nina Simone in Concert (Philips / PHM 200-135, 1964), Broadway • Blues • Ballads (Philips / PHS 600-148, 1964), I Put a Spell on You (Philips / PHS 600-172, 1965), Pastel Blues (Philips / PHM 200-187, 1965), Let It All Out (Philips / PHS 600-202, 1965), Wild Is the Wind (Philips / PHS 600-207, 1966), High Priestess of Soul (Philips / PHS 600-219, 1967). Perfect! All her live and studio albums for Philips!
And here comes a glorious set plus bonus tracks of her studio and live albums for RCA Victor:
The Complete RCA Albums Collection (RCA / 88697938902, 1967-1974), contains Nina Simone Sings the Blues (RCA Victor / LPM-3789, 1967), Silk & Soul (RCA Victor / LSP 3837, 1967), ‚Nuff Said! (RCA Victor / LSP 4065, 1968), Nina Simone and Piano! (RCA Victor / LSP-4102, 1969), To Love Somebody (RCA Victor / LSP 4152, 1969), Black Gold (RCA Victor / LSP-4248, 1970), Here Comes the Sun (RCA Victor / LSP 4536, 1971), Emergency Ward! (RCA Victor / LSP-4757, 1972), It Is Finished (RCA Victor / APL1-0421, 1974). Marvellous!
To fill up the 1960s, there are some more Colpix albums, some elusive albums (for the private Label Stroud and other) and archival (live) albums:
Nina at the Village Gate (Colpix / SCP 421, 1961)
Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall (Colpix / SCP 455, 1963)
Folksy Nina / Nina With Strings (Collectables / COL-CD-6208, 1964/1966, this is a twofer containing Folksy Nina Colpix / CP 465) and Nina Simone With Strings (Colpix / CP 496)).
Gifted & Black / Live at Berkeley (Charly / SNAP 300 CD, 1970/1973, twofer for Gifted & Black (Canyon / 7705) and Live at Berkeley (Stroud / SLP 1007).
Nina Simone (Up Front / UPF-145, 1971 live)
Live in Europe (Trip / TLP-8020 (2), 1972)
Nina Simone Sings Billie Holiday / Gospel According to Nina Simone (Charly / SNAP288CD, 1972/1972), twofer for Nina Simone Sings Billie Holiday (Stroud / SLP 1005) and Gospel According to Nina Simone (Stroud / SLP 1006).
A Portrait of Nina Simone (Festival / Album 189, 1974)
A Very Rare Evening (PM / PMR-018, live rec. 1969, issue 1979)
And this preeeetty much should wrap up Simone’s entire available output from 1958–1974. She took a four year gap of publishing after that and returned with 1978’s Baltimore. The discography gets messier from that point on with numerous live bootlegs etc. But if you stick to the official studio, archival, and live albums from 1974 onwards, you should be golden.
Nina Simone’s complete recordings
Lived 1936–2009, recorded 1958–2002.
New Orleans Street Singer (Smithsonian Folkways – SFW CD 40165, 1958 Folkways)
New Orleans Street Singer (Storyville / STCD 8023, 1959 for Heritage / Bluesville /Storyville)
Country Boy Down in New Orleans (Arhoolie / CD-348, 1959 for Folk Lyric / Arhoolie) > this issue: ARHCD 348)
Message From New Orleans (Heritage / HLP 1002, 1960 album containing some songs never released on CD)
The Complete Imperial Recordings (Capitol / 7243 8 33918 2 0, 1960-63 Imperial)
I Blueskvarter: 1964, Volume Three (Jefferson Records – SBACD 12658/9, V/A-compilation containing a 1964 session)
You’ll also need to get these sessions from some time in the 1970s:
Snooks Eaglin (Sonet / SNTF 625, instead of the less complete album The Legacy of the Blues Vol. 2 (Sonet / SNTF 625, 1971).
From that point on (1971), you’ll just need to buy the remaining albums (as of yet), starting with 1978’s Down Yonder (Sonet / SNTF 752).
But anyhow, for his early work (1958–64) and up until 1971, these are (give or take an alternate track)
Snooks Eaglin’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: reissue of His First Recordings Following Discovery)!
My Home Is in the Delta (Testament TCD 5019, 1963/64 Testament recordings)
You Gotta Move (Arhoolie CD 304, 1964/1965, reissue of Delta Blues (F 1021))
Good Morning Little School Girl (Arhoolie CD 424, great collection, collects some scattered 1964 Arhoolie tracks, creates minor overlap)
Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning (Arhoolie 1068, not all of these 1964-69 Arhoolie tracks seem to have been reissued on CD, at least this take of „I Hear Somebody Calling“)
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 Blues (Orbis BLU NC 045, 1965, reissue of 1965’s Cotton Country Blues with complete session)
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)
Friends of Old Time Music: The Folk Arrival: 1961-1965 (1964, Folkways CD 40160, V/A, 2 tracks)
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)Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads, and Beyond (1965, Arhoolie CD 518, V/A, 1 additional track)
American Folk Blues Festival ’65 (Fontana 885 422 TY, 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
Robert Pete Williams
Lived 1914–1980, recorded 1959–1980.
Proper albums (all of these have at least some tracks that don’t appear anywhere else):
Those Prison Blues (Folk-Lyric / FL 109, 1959)
Free Again (Arhoolie / CD 419, 1959)
Louisiana Blues (Takoma / B 1011, 1966)
Robert Pete Williams (Ahura Mazda / AMS 2002, 1971)
and from here on (1971) you’ll need his remaining albums
I’m Blue as a Man Can Be (Arhoolie / CD 394, 1959–1970)
Angola Prisoner’s Blues (Arhoolie / CD 419, 1952–1959)
When a Man Takes the Blues (Arhoolie / CD 395, 1959–1970)
Poor Bob’s Blues (Arhoolie / CD 511, 1962–1963)
Long Ol‘ Way From Home: The Chicago Sessions (Fuel 2000 / 302 061 391 2, 1965)
Live! (Roots / SL-501, 1966 live with Son House)
V/A-comps, live-comps with single scattered tracks:
Country Negro Jam Sessions (Folk-Lyric / FL 111, 1 track)
Angola Prison Spirituals (Arhoolie / 9036, 8 tracks)
Country Spirituals (Storyville – SLP 135, 1 track)
Raise a Rukus Tonight (Flyright / LP 545, 2 tracks)
The Blues at Newport: 1964 – Part 1 (Vanguard / VRS-9180, 3 tracks)
Blues at Newport: Recorded Live at the Newport Folk Festival – 1959-1964 (Vanguard / VCD 115/16, 1 new track)
Up The Country (Scout – Sc-S3, 1 track)
American Folk Blues Festival ’66 (Fontana TL 5389, V/A, 1 track)
Well, this wasn’t entertaining to catalogue. But here we are, with these albums and compilations you can get his most important stuff and cut this or that corner with next to no overlap. There are a large number (over a dozen) of known but unissued recordings, I don’t know if these are lost or waiting in the vaults somewhere.
Robert Pete Williams‘ 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
aka Sam Chatman
Lived 1899–1983, recorded solo 1960–1980(?)
The Mississippi Sheik (Blue Goose 2006, p.1971, rec 1966)
Sam Chatmon: Field Recordings from Hollandale, Mississippi (1976-1982), Blues At Home, Volume 2 (Mbirafon CD 102) is the more comprehensive version of this session: Hollandale Blues (Albatros VPA 8408, p.1977, rec 1976)
Sam Chatmon’s Advice (Rounder 2018, rec 1979)
Sam Chatmon and His Barbecue Boys ( Flying Fish FF-202, rec 1979)
1970-1974 (Flyright Records FLY CD 63, 1970–1974)
I Have to Paint My Face (Arhoolie F 1005, V/A-comp, 4 songs, rec 1960)
San Diego Folk Festival ’74 (KPBS 101, V/A-comp, 1 song, rec 1974)
The Devil’s Music (Red Lightnin‘ RL0033, V/A-comp, 3 songs, rec 1976)
For his earlier work, see the –>Mississippi Sheiks and/or the –>Chatman Brothers.
Now, the problem is that there are a few more tracks from the 1960s or 1970s scattered throughout V/A-compilations and anthologies – I can’t find them all and pull them together here. We’re really talking about apple scraps, so let’s say for his solo output, these are just about…
Sam Chatmon’s complete recordings
Hound Dog Taylor
Lived 1915-1975, recorded 1960, 1962, 1967 and 1971–1975.
You need to get his two studio albums and then all the posthumous live albums and sessions one by one – no easier way.
His six early sides are pretty hard to find as they’re scattered on V/A-comps – no easy fix there, either.
Birth name Iverson Minter
Lived 1932–2012, recorded 1960–2011(?)
No easier way to do it than getting many, many albums, live and studio.
Lived 1921–1993, recorded 1961(?)–late 1970s(?).
A true epitome of outsider music, Jay’s albums (which he started issuing on own labels in the late 1960s) have become elusive and hardly available. Although all of the compilations (issued on very small labels themselves) are extremely worthwhile – and probably your best, maybe actually ONLY bet to get some of his music –, there is no way of getting all the music of this maverick of true lowdown dirty dilettant-blues without hunting down all of his albums. Which will be impossible until some label releases all of it on a box set.
So what can I say: get all the compilations, accept the overlap and the fact that this might remain all that’s available to the general public.
There you go, that’s the true story of Abner Jay.
More to come.