Lead Belly: How many versions of „Easy Rider“ (See See Rider, C.C. Rider) did Lead Belly record?

Answer: Probably about five.

But aha! This is another update to my Complete Discography of Lead Belly recordings. This time, a contradiction was spotted by Bernard Sigaud.

My list used to have a take of „Easy Rider (See See Rider“ for the session of May 1944 (appearing on DOCD-5310 and SFW40045) and another take, „Easy Rider“, for June 1946 (appearing on DOCD-5311 and SFW40201). Bernard noticed that these two takes seem to be the exact same take.

And he’s right!

When I went throught the available documentation, there seems to be an uncertainty or a mistake for the May 1944-session (and its following documentation) that goes something like this:

The take certainly stems from some mid-1940s session Lead Belly made for Moses Asch – this much was always known, but the details of those sessions seemed to be unclear for a long time. The title „Easy Rider (See See Rider)-1“ does show up in the discography by Wolfe/Lornell (1992) for the session in May 1944, but this session does have the Wolfe/Lornell disclaimer „[It is uncertain if these selections were recorded at the same session]“. Wolfe/Lornell give the 1950-Folkways LP 4 (or 2034 or FP34) as the first appearance of this track. They note the title „Easy Rider-2“ for June 1946, with an non-label „Disc 5501“ as first source.

These two takes mentioned separately by Wolfe/Lornell are the same take in question.

The liner notes of the first big CD-reissue of Folkways FP34, which is SFW40045, follow Wolfe/Lornell and also note the „Easy Rider“ take as from May 1944.

Liner notes Bourgeois Blues – Lead Belly Legacy Vol. 2, Smithsonian Folkways 40045

The Document Records CD DOCD-5310 also reproduces this and puts the take at May 1944. Now, as Wolfe/Lornell noted, there was always doubt about the tracks of this May 1944-session: „[It is uncertain if these selections were recorded at the same session]“. As it turns out, the discography by Fancourt/McGrath (2006) does list a number of songs from FP34, but „Easy Rider“ is not to be found there. But the title „Easy rider (See see rider)-1“ does show up for June 1946, with „Disc 5501?, Fw FP 34“ as source. The later Folkways Collection SFW40201 notes „Easy Rider“ as from June 1946 with Folkways 2034 (FP34) as the first appearance.

Liner notes Lead Belly – The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, Smithsonian Folkways 40201

So in both instances, this would be the take that Wolfe/Lornell had placed for May 1944. The Document Records DOCD-5311 simply works with this information and uses the take as from June 1946.
The mistake seems to be simple: Folkways mistakenly placed the take in 1944 for its first issue in 1950 and there was contradictory information in Wolfe/Lornell with an „Easy Rider“-take for May 1944 and for June 1946. As this turned out to be the same take, it was obviously concluded at some point (I don’t know anything about the specifics) that there was no „Easy Rider“-take for May 1944 after all.
The placement of the take on DOCD-5310 is therefore misplaced and outdated – at least that’s what the documents say now. It would be interesting to have a look at the documentation to find out when the knowledge arose that this mid-1940s Asch-recording of „Easy Rider“ wasn’t from 1944 but from 1946. But I have no idea.

Short take away:

  1. There is (as of now) no „Easy Rider“-take from May 1944.
  2. DOCD-5310 and SFW40045 mistakenly list an „Easy Rider“ -take from May 1944.
  3. DOCD-5311 contains the same take, listed for June 1946.
  4. SFW40201 contains the same take, listed for June 1946.

I deleted the „Easy Rider“-entry in my list for May 1944 and put a note for the version of June 1946.

Thanks, Bernard!

Jimmy Johnson: Tobacco Road

Rating: 8.1/10
Rated as
: Album
Album Status
: Genre Contender
Released: 1978
Recorded: 1977
Specific Genre: Chicago Blues, Soul Blues
Main Genre: Electric Blues, Blues
Label: MCM Blues Records

1 Long About Midnight 2 Strange Things Happening 3 Look on Yonder Wall 4 I’m Crazy About My Baby 5 Tobacco Road 6 Breaking Up Somebody’s Home 7 Sweet Little Angel 8 Three Times Chicago

Can’t control the vibration, after all I didn’t make it myself

Most discographies will allude to 1979’s Johnson’s Whack as Jimmy Johnson’s first album, or might be referring to qualifications like his ‚domestic‘ debut and whatnot, but this little gem from 1978 (recorded 1977) is Johnson’s actual debut (and was issued in France – and he did record half an LP in 1975, on the same French label). At fifty years of age, Johnson suffered the fate of many great bluesmen of the postwar generation: important as a studio session for decades, important to the sound of the soulful Chicago blues of bigger names, and too late into the game now to make a big splash for himself.

On Tobacco Road, Johnson sports the melismatic, exhilarated singing style of B.B. King and a not unsimilar guitar technique than another King (Albert) – somewhere between an articulate sting and a bending, organic wail. But he is distinct from both as Johnson goes sneakily funky where BB King goes smooth, he goes raw where King goes schmaltzy and he kicks into a dryly cool, rugged groove where King faceplants in overexcited horn sections. While this somehow got a „live“ tag, there clearly is no audience present (at some points, you can hear what amounts to background studio chatter), so this is probably closer to a studio session which greatly benefits the slightly ramshackle, laid-back couch-groove of the whole set. In terms of cool Chicago soul blues, this is not unlike what Earl Hooker did in the mid-1960s, but with a jazz-informed drummer and a really steady rhythm guitarist supplying a comforting background for Johnson to take off from. Watch out for some funky little drum fills and some great breakdowns which showcase Johnson’s vocals – especially on the hurt, grief-stricken yet somehow defiantly energetic showstopper „Feel Like Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home“.

As electric soul blues goes, this is a highly recommended set precisely because it moves in areas somewhat out of fashion at the time – it isn’t self-consciously trying to be overly theatrical and doesn’t fall into any of the flashy traps of the genre, it’s just some bloke, some beers, and some emotive, low-key blues.

Lead Belly: His complete Victor/Bluebird recordings

How to acquire all recordings Lead Belly made for the Victor Records label (absorbed by RCA Records in 1929) and its subsidiary label Bluebird Records? Lead Belly recorded for Victor RCA/Bluebird on two dates: June 15th and June 17th of 1940 (a saturday and a monday, as it happens), a total of 27 known tracks.

The Lead Belly collection Take This Hammer – The Secret History of Rock & Roll (Bluebird 82876 50957 2 or RCA 50957), the fifth volume of Bluebird series When the Sun Goes Down sometimes has the claim to sport „The Complete RCA Victor Recordings“.

This is one track short of the truth: While it does have the unissued first take „Grey Goose“ (Victor 051327-1), it misses the alternate take of „Grey Goose (Take 2)“ (Victor 051327-2). These are often mistaken for one another, as the vocal performances of Lead Belly and the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet were very precise – but apart from slightly different speeds (which could be due to pitch differences), some of the Quartet vocalists do notably different things in the background on the two tracks.

This track, „Grey Goose (Take 2)“ can almost exclusively be found on Document Records „Too Late, Too Late“: More Newly Discovered Titles And Alternate Takes, Volume 6 (1924-1946) (DOCD-5461).

There are two more Document Records that contain Victor/Bluebird recordings: Complete Recorded Works 1939-1947 In Chronological Order: Volume 1 (1 April 1939 To 15 June 1940) (DOCD-5226) and Complete Recorded Works 1939-1947 In Chronological Order: Volume 2 (17 June 1940 To Summer 1943) (DOCD-5227).

These are excellent compilations that contain many other Lead Belly tracks that you can almost exclusively get on them – so you need them. But they do not contain two tracks from the Victor sessions that are available on Take This Hammer: versions of „Yellow Gal“ and „Julianne Johnson“.

This creates one of the more unfortunate overlap situations for Lead Belly: If you get all three Document Records compilations (which you should), you’ll need to get Bluebird’s Take This Hammer for just two tracks.

This is a problem that nowadays can be solved through downloads, I guess, but then you miss out of the liner notes. Here is the tabella for Lead Belly’s Victor/Bluebird sessions:

Lead Belly’s Victor/Bluebird Recordings
No. / SourceTitleDocumentothersRemarks
New York June 15, 1940  Huddie Ledbetter   vocal/guitar with speech-1
051295-1, Victor 27268Pick A Bale Of CottonDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051296- , Victor unissuedYellow GalRCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye; RCA 50957 notes it as „051296-1“
051297-, Victor unissuedWhoa Back, BuckDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051298-1, VictorMidnight SpecialDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051299-1, Victor 27268Alabama BoundDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051500-1, VictorRock Island LineDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051501-, Bluebird B8791Good Morning BluesDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051502-, Bluebird B8791Leaving BluesDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051503-1, VictorT.B. BluesDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051504-, Bluebird B8709Red Cross Store BluesDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051505-, Bluebird B8550Sail On, Little Girl, Sail OnDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051506-, Bluebird B8709RobertaDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051507-, Bluebird B8559AlbertaDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051508-1, VictorI’m on My Last Go RoundDOCD-5226RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
New York June 17, 1940  Huddie Ledbetter   vocal/guitar with speech-1
051322-1, Victor Easy RiderDOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051323-1, Bluebird B8750New York CityDOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051324-, Bluebird B8570Worried BluesDOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051325-, Bluebird B8570Don’t You Love Your Daddy No More?DOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye. Fancourt notes that Wolfe/Lornell also incorrectly note this track for August 4, 1949.
051326-1, Bluebird B8750You Can’t Lose-A Me ChollyDOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye. Fancourt notes that Wolfe/Lornell also incorrectly note this track for August 4, 1949.
051327-1, Victor unissuedGrey GooseDOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051327-2, Victor 27267Grey Goose (Take 2)DOCD-5461in: Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051328-1, Victor unissuedDidn’t Ol‘ John Cross The Water?DOCD-5411RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051329-1, Victor 27267Stew BallDOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051330-, Victor unissuedTake This HammerDOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051331-, Victor unissuedCan’t You Line ‚EmDOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye
051332-Julianne JohnsonRCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye; RCA 50957 notes it as „051332-1“
051333-1, Victor 27266Ham An‘ EggsDOCD-5227RCA 50957in: Wolfe/Lornell; Dixon/Godrich/Rye

Lightnin' Hopkins: Ground Hog Blues – "Sittin In With" Sessions

Rating: 3.6/10
Rated as
: Collection
Compilation Status
: Obsolete
Released: 2004
Recorded: 1947–1951
Specific Genre: Acoustic Texas Blues
Main Genre: Acoustic Blues, Blues
Label: Universe [Italy]

Disc 1: 1.1 Coffee Blues 1.2 Gotta Move 1.3 Freight Train 1.4 Don’t Think I’m Crazy 1.5 Dirty House Blues 1.6 Everything Happens to Me 1.7 Cairo Blues [by Lil‘ Son Jackson] 1.8 Bad Whiskey [by Lil‘ Son Jackson] 1.9 Ground Hog Blues [by Lil‘ Son Jackson] 1.10 Automobile Blues 1.11 Got to Go [Zolo Go] 1.12 Unsuccessful Blues 1.13 Rollin‘ Woman Blues 1.14 Big Mama Jump (Little Mama Blues) 1.15 Ida Mae 1.16 Shining Moon 1.17 Give Me Central (Hello Central) 1.18 Contrary Mary 1.19 Bald Headed Woman
Disc 2: 2.1 One Kind Favor (See that My Grave Is Kept Clean) 2.2 I Wonder Why 2.3 Tap Dance Boogie 2.4 Down to the River 2.5 New Short Haired Woman 2.6 Broken Hearted Blues 2.7 New York Boogie 2.8 Long Way from Texas 2.9 Mad as I Can Be [Tell Me Boogie] 2.10 I’m Beggin‘ You 2.11 Why Did You Get Mad at Me? 2.12 Home in the Woods [No Good Woman] 2.13 Praying Ground Blues 2.14 Back Home Boogie 2.15 Studio Chatter/My Heart to Weep 2.17 New Worried Life Blues 2.18 I’ll Never Forget the Day [You Do Too]

John Lee Hooker told me one day, he said: if you don’t get it like this you’re wrong

Let’s see, there is a lot to unpack here. This is advertised as the sessions for the „Sittin‘ In With“ label, issued by an obscure Italian label („Universe“) focusing on vintage reissues. And while a slight majority of the tracks in fact stems from these 1951 sessions (in New York and Houston), there are some tracks that Hopkins made in 1948/49 for the Gold Star Records label (1.10–1.16, with 1.14 „Big Mama Jump“ actually from 1947). Several of the tracks were issued later, under labels such as Mainstream, Time, Jax and Mercury.

This makes some sense: Producer Bob Shad had founded numerous labels, Sittin‘ In With, Time, Jax, Mainstream and others, then later sold Sittin‘ In With to Mercury (under which umbrella he started EmArcy, so Bob Shad turns out to be… something of a giant. He is also the grandfather of Judd Apatow. Judd’s sister Mia Apatow manages the label’s properties nowadays). And Shad issued records under his labels that were licensed from and had been earlier recorded by the Gold Star label. This explains the numerous labels involved – they all had something to do with Bob Shad and all the recordings were made – at least very roughly – during contiguous sessions.

This is where the good news for this compilation stop because to say that the obscure „Universe“ label here did a shoddy job would be an understatement. Let’s see: First, there is no rhyme or reason to what made this double disc from these sessions. These are neither the complete Sittin‘ In With sessions nor is there are a comprehensive approach to the sublabel tracks. Secondly, here is no sense at all in the few scattered Gold Star tracks, no comprehensiveness, no session cohesion, no chronology. Lots of holes. Furthermore, some of the information and track titles are plain wrong („Somebody’s Got to Go“ here is a different number called „Zolo Go“ or „Zologo“). Worst of all, contrary to the information given here, three of the tracks were not recorded by Lightnin‘ Hopkins at all: „Cairo Blues“, „Bad Whiskey“, and, in a major plot twist, the bloody [i]title track[/i] „Ground Hog Blues“ from 1948/49 (for Gold Star). Why? Gold Star also housed a young aspiring bluesman called Lil‘ Son Jackson (check out his discography for reference), who could mimic Hopkins to a tee as he learned the blues from his mentor and who is often lumped together on large Texas blues compilations alongside Hopkins and others.

This kind of reckless editing gives me fits. Even worse: This collection is completely obsolete, as you can get the entire sessions elsewhere, with no holes and no need for scavenging needlessly scattered tracks on other collections. The definite one being JSP’s All the Classics: 1946–1951. In fairness, that huge collection for some reason misses „Tap Dance Boogie“ and „You Do Too (I’ll Never Forget the Day)“, both of which are here. But you can get those and more on serious collection like Hello Central – The Best of Lightnin‘ Hopkins (which incidentally has some tracks missing on All the Classics).

So, be all that as it may: This is an obsolete, borderline useless slapdash cheapo ragbag to which you should give no serious consideration. The music here of course is laidback, great acoustic and electric Texas blues, but the poor and careless research ruins the fun of owning this set with overall great music. There are numerous collections that are far more serious and superior. I also worry at night about the fact that this has become one of the more wide-spread compilations, but maybe I should know better.

Cannon’s Jug Stompers: The Complete Works 1927–1930

Rating: 8.1/10
Rated as
: Collection
Compilation Status: Decent Overview
Released: 1992
Recorded: 1927–1930
Specific Genre: Jug Band
Main Genre: Blues, Acoustic Blues
Label: Yazoo

1 Minglewood Blues 2 Walk Right In 3 Going to Germany 4 Bring It With You When You Come 5 Bugle Call Rag 6 Prison Wall Blues 7 Feather Bed 8 Noah’s Blues 9 Wolf River Blues 10 Madison Street Rag 11 Viola Lee Blues 12 Cairo Rag 13 Last Chance Blues 14 Mule Get Up in the Alley 15 Pretty Mama Blues 16 Money Never Runs Out 17 Pig Ankle Strut 18 Jonestown Blues 19 The Rooster Crowing Blues 20 Hollywood Rag 21 Heart Breakin‘ Blues 22 Ripley Blues 23 Tired Chicken Blues 24 Big Railroad Blues

Played around the little town, your head chock full of rum

Jug band blues is an odd hybrid of folksy and urban, ragtime-y, jazzy and country blues elements. The reverbarting, murmuring sound of the jug, the rattling banjo and dominating harp make for an overall make-shift street corner atmosphere. Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers were among the most successful and – since some of their numbers became blues standards as well as pop hits for other, much later artists – endurig combos for this comparatively small and short-lived genre. It’s restricted, free-wheeling sound is removed from deep blues through the hustling, bustling city sound it had to dwell in – playful, hurried, sketchy, but always amiable and slightly mischievous. There’s little here in terms of melody or heavy emotion, but the shaggy underdog attitude makes more than up for it, at least when consumed in slight doses – this is about entertainment, presented by next-door-rascals – their lyrics often revolve around trouble with small town judges for petty crimes. As one of the quintessential outfits of this sound, the Jug Stompers are among the quintessential roots of urban blues, there is a strict need to have their material, even if you mostly find yourself listening to the odd grumbling of «Viola Lee Blues» or the tumbling, hungover «Minglewood Blues» every so often. Good stuff.

As for this particular collection, here’s from my series of «consumer guide reviews», so to speak:

Gus Cannon recorded 26 sides (as in 13 singles) with the Jug Stompers. While the vinyl version (Yazoo 1989) of this CD contained all 13 sides plus the solo material Cannon recorded as Banjo Joe, this CD-reissue only contains tracks by the Jug Stompers and is even missing 2 of their sides («Riley’s Wagon» and «Springdale Blues»).

If you want to avoid tedious holes in your collection and get the real deal (that is, Cannon’s solo stuff plus the Jug Stompers catalogue), you’ll need to get Gus Cannon’s Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 1 and theComplete Recorded Works in Chronological Order: Volume 2 (credited to Gus Cannon & Noah Lewis) by the Document Records label: They have all of it and some more side stuff, so they are the definite CD-picks. If you then get Cannon’s revival record Walk Right In from 1963, you’re about set.

Having said that, when this came out, it was the most complete Jug Stompers compilation on a single CD – which it remains until today. All the other single disc compilations claiming to be complete have less track than this one. If you want an overview of how to acquire the complete recordings of Cannon and his Jug Stompers, compare my list Complete Blues Discographies: What to Get.

Howlin‘ Wolf: The Power of the Voice

Rating: 1.2/10
Rated as
: Anthology
Compilation Status
: Useless
Released: 1989
Recorded: 1951, 1952, 1970
Specific Genre: Chicago Blues
Main Genre: Blues, Electric Blues
Label: Blues Encore

1 I Ain’t Superstitious 2 Sittin‘ on the Top of the World 3 Built for Comfort 4 The Red Rooster 5 Highway 49 6 Cause of It All 7 Killing Floor 8 Brownskin Woman 9 The Sun Is Rising 10 I’m the Wolf 11 House Rockin‘ Boogie 12 Dog Me Around 13 Keep What You Got 14 My Babe Stole off 15 Crying at Daybreak 16 Passing By Blues 17 Poor Boy 18 Commit a Crime 19 Wang-Dang-Doodle 20 Do the Do 21 Worried About My Baby 22 Rockin‘ Daddy

You better keep what you got

Completely pointless cash-in compilation by the greatest hollerer there ever was. Although you get 22 tracks on a single disc, this isn’t worth your while: The track choice is completely random, all the tracks are either from 1970 or 1951/52; the sequencing is random (the disc starts with a bunch of 1970-recordings, tracks 1–7, the 1950s tracks follow, 8–16, then back to a row of the 1970-tracks, 17–22); the sound of this European issue is just awful (not scratchy, as these are studio recordings, but this is the most compressed, tinniest and flattest audio quality I’ve heard in my lifetime – which is all the worse, as Howlin‘ Wolf is about his roaring sound, totally betrayed here). Tracks 8–11 are from the same 1952-session in Memphis (but were published partly on different records under fishy circumstances), while 12–16 are from two Memphis-1952 sessions (September and October). In neither cases are these all of those sessions‘ tracks, so what’s the point? But worst of all: all the 1970-tracks are directly and redundantly taken from the famous London Howlin‘ Wolf Sessions-album, whose versions weren’t so hot to begin with.

There are so many good compilations by Howlin‘ Wolf, don’t be fooled by the large number of tracks here and be sure to skip this one. To check on how to collect Wolf’s material, compare my RateYourMusic-list Complete Blues Discographies: What to get.

A list of historically important jazz discographies

According to:

Epperson, Bruce D.: More Important Than the Music. A History of Jazz Discography. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press 2013.

Where do you look up information about jazz, blues, gospel and all that ja…ngling music, I mean besides just googling yourself to death in a pool of abundant, half-reliable information? Where do you go where the information, however correct it might be, doesn’t feel sticky? In discographies? Which ones? Epperson’s book on the topic, More Important Than the Music (2013), is fascinating. Sure, from one perspective, it gives you an abundance of facts, of nerdy information about nerds and their nerdy obsessions, it painstakingly records who published which list of jazz records at what time under what circumstances. That is the purely fact-driven aspect. On the other hand, it introduces you to a world of people whipped by their desires, bound together in love and hatred for the topic and for each other, stuck in decade-long feuds about plagiarism, money, mutual criticism and appraisal, a world full of projects only making it from the letters A to K because of over-ambition, corporate enemies or new technology. A world full of hope and despair, of half-arbitrary decisions about race, genre, cut-off dates, band formats and sound formats, driven by personal interest of the respective researcher. A world of necessary, but neither academically nor financially rewarded research, with no sustainable way to make it profitable. I don’t know if Epperson realises just how hilarious his chosen quote to end the book is, where Howard Rye says:

The single biggest factor in jazz discography is that neither Brian Rust nor Jørgen Jepsen gave a damn about the needs of those who wouldn’t buy their books!

(Rye in Epperson 2013, 212).

Talk about an exclamation point to end a book about, well, lists. This is not how a tragedy ends (or a comedy, or a romance) – this is how you end a farce, a book with farcical subject matter, intentionally or not. As I said somewhere else: A discography is but a list made by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. (Including myself, of course, although the only ‚discographies‘ I create consist of second-hand information and aim at cutting the corners of availability).

Below is a list of the jazz discographies that Epperson discusses more than just in passing and around which he constructs entire chapters or paragraphs. Epperson’s book is an eloquent, informative and fluid (and at times hilarious) read from a historical/narrative perspective, but it doesn’t have registers telling you which discographies or names are discussed on what pages, and which chapters and paragraphs deal with which time spans exactly etc. (actually, in the text, the chapter titles do indicate time spans, but they don’t do this where it would be most useful: in the „contents“ overview). So I assembled a list according to Epperson’s chronology with some of the crucial quotes for each discography. The list only treats general jazz (and blues) discographies, meaning there are no specialized discographies: no label discographies, no single-artist bio-discographies, no solographies (yes, those exist), no national discographies and so forth.

Since discographies tend to have shifting titles, different editors/authors, changing time spans and volatile edition histories, I somewhat lump the titles and publication years for the discographies together. The gist of each work’s identity will be researchable with this, if you want to dig into it. Or just read the book.

Chapter 2.2:

Schleman, Hilton: Rhythm on Record (1936)

The lack of session-level information has led many discographers to relegate Rhythm on Record to protodiscography, leaving the honors of „first discography“ to Delaunay’s Hot Discography, which appeared three months later.However, within the limited goals he set for himself, Schleman was largely successful, an discographers were still using his book some sixty-five years later.

(Epperson 2013, 29)

Chapter 2.3:

Delaunay, Charles: Hot Discography (1936)

„Charles Delaunay is the undoubted father of discography as we know it today,“ adds Sheatsley. „It was he who first saw and utilized the importance of master numbers.“

(Epperson 2013, 38)

Chapter 3.1:

Blackstone, Orin: Index to Jazz (1945–1950)

Therefore he stuck to an alphabetical-by-artist structure from start to finish, unlike Delaunay’s affinities of style arrangement.

(Epperson 2013, 51)

Chapter 3.2:

Delaunay, Charles: New Hot Discography (1948)

Recognizably a Delaunay product, it retained the affinities of style approach for musicians recorded before 1930 but abandoned it for later artists, who were grouped in straight alphabetical order in a long section of their own.

(Epperson 2013, 56)

One other prescient feature of New Hot Discography bears mentioning in some detail. Each issue (usually, but not always, a 78 rpm, two-sided single) was assigned a „discode“, a Delaunay-assigned serial number comprising a number, letter, and number.

(Epperson 2013, 59)

Chapter 3.4:

Carey, David, Albert McCarthy (and Ralph Venable): The Directory of Recorded Jazz and Swing Music [The Jazz Directory] (1949–1955)

McCarthy, Albert and Dave Carey: The Directory of Recorded Jazz and Swing Music Inlcuding Gospel and Blues Records [The Jazz Directory]. (1955–1957)

The discographic format wasn’t radically different from that of the contemporaneous Blackstone or Delaunay works, but it was crisper and clearer, mostly because, once and for all, it subordinated matrix numbers to recording sessions arranged in a chronological format.

(Epperson 2013, 69)

Chapter 3.5:

Delaunay, Charles and Kurt Mohr: Hot discographie encyclopédique (1951–1952)

The format of Hot discographie encyclopédique (HDE) was a complete break with any of Delaunay’s previous works and bore a strong resemblance to Carey and McCarthy’s series, so it instantly became known as the „French Jazz Directory„. Delaunay admitted that the times had changed and „such a work as this must be objective, not selective.“

(Epperson 2013, 76)

Chapter 4.1:

Rust, Brian: Jazz Records, A–Z (1961)

Although this session-based layout was not radically different from that in The Jazz Directory, the refinements he did develop ended up making Jazz Records, A–Z so superior to anything that came before that it was eventually called the Rust format.

(Epperson 2013, 85)

Where did you go for availability, not history? […] Even Malcolm Shaw, who edited the latest (2002) edition of Rust’s Jazz Records, A–Z, admits that „JR [Jazz Records] as it stands is probably due for a total reconsideration of the concept“.

(Epperson 2013, 4)

Chapter 4.2:

Jepsen, Jørgen Grunnet: Jazz Records, 1942–196X (1963–1970)

Survival demanded a relatively straightforward editorial policy. „This is not a complete listing of all jazz records,“ cautioned Jepsen. „This is only an attempt to list all the records known to the editor and his collaborators.“

(Epperson 2013, 89)

Chapter 4.3:

Godrich, John and Robert Dixon: Blues and Gospel Records, 1902–1942 (1964, 1969)

Dixon, Robert and John Godrich: Blues and Gospel Records, 1902–1943 (1982)

– and Howard Rye: Blues and Gospel Records, 1890–1943 (1997)

The decision to include all existing material without differentiating whether it was commercial or archival (and whether or not it was relevant to record collectors) proved to be the single most important metric by which Blues and Gospel Records came to be evaluated over the years.

(Epperson 2013, 94)

Chapter 4.5:

Leadbitter, Mike and Neil Slaven: Blues Records, 1943–1966: An Encyclopedic Discography to More Than Two Decades of Recorded Blues (1968)

–: Blues Records, 1943–1970: A Selective Discography. Vol. 1, A–K. (1987)

–: Blues Records, 1943–1970: A Selective Discography. Vol. 2, L–Z. (1994).

The few who did review the 1987 revision generally considered it a significant improvement over its 1968 predecessor. Everyone agreed that its new subtitle A Selective Discography, was a far more realistic description that the first edition’s unfortunate Encyclopedic Discography label.

(Epperson 2013, 101)

Chapter 5.1:

Bruyninckx, Walter: 50 Years of Recorded Jazz. 1917–1967. (ca. 1968–1971)

–: 60 Years of Recorded Jazz. 1917–1977 (ca. 1977–1980)

–: 70/75 Years of Recorded Jazz. (late 1980s to early 1990s)

– and Domi Truffandier: 85 Years of Recorded Jazz. (CD-ROM 2003)

„Despite his continued plagiarism,“ recalled librarian Matthew Snyder, „by the late 1980’s [sic] the general opinion on Bruyninckx appeared to be that the improved quality of his work, combined with his extensive coverage, had produced the best available jazz discography.“

(Epperson 2013, 113)

Chapter 5.2:

Raben, Erik: Jazz Records, 1942–80: A Discography. (1989–2007, A–G. Unfinished)

Everyone agreed that its musicians index, included at the end of each volume and not as an appendix at the end of the series, was much needed and badly overdue […].

(Epperson 2013, 117)

Chapter 5.3:

Lord, Tom: The Jazz Discography. (1992–2002)

„It is possible that Lord’s project has already taken over the market for Raben’s volumes, and that Raben’s project will die. This possibility, in combination with the frustrations of using Bruyninckx’s paperbacks and his inept marketing of 70 Years, may mean that that, in jazz discography’s own little version of a hostile corporate takeover, Lord’s project has already emerged the victor.“ [Kernfeld/Rye]

(Epperson 2013, 125)

Lord was a businessman, a marketer who was peddling a product – the others were either professional academics or amateur scholars undertaking research. […] „Lord is more of a collator than a researcher,“ observed Edward Berger […].

(Epperson 2013, 126)

(note that this Tom Lord has no relation to the Tom Lord who made 1976’s Clarence Williams-discography)

The notable Websites and Online Articlesthat Epperson lists in his bibliography are:

http://allmusic.com/

http://jazzstudiesonline.org

http://www.jazzarcheology.com

http://www.jazz.com

http://www.redsaunders.com

http://victor.library.ucsb.edu

Lightnin‘ Hopkins: Goin‘ Back Home

Rating: 1.5/10
Rated as: Anthology
Compilation Status: Useless
Released: 1997
Recorded: 1964–1969
Main Genre: Blues
Specific Genres: Acoustic Blues, Electric Blues, Acoustic Texas Blues, Electric Texas Blues
Label: Comet 43324

1 Shaggy Dog 2 Santa Fe Blues [New Santa Fe] 3 Shinin‘ Moon [Shining Moon] 4 I’ll Be Gone 5 Shake It Baby 6 Goin‘ Back Home 7 Good Times 8 I’m Wit‘ It [What’d I Say] 9 Don’t Wake Me 10 Talk of the Town 11 California Landslide [California Mudslide] 12 Rosie Mae 13 Easy on Your Heals 14 Leave Jike Mary Alone 15 You Treat Po‘ Lightnin‘ Wrong

Good times here, but it’s better down the road

Another European cheapo collection by one of the greatest. A mix of some infectious, driving electric blues numbers in classic jaunty Hopkins-style and his trademark acoustic texas blues. Excellent, if unspectacular fret work, some surprising horn sections (on a Hopkins record!) and overall a more polished sound compared to his earlier stuff from the 1960s.

Some research: Tracks 1 and 3–10 are from 1967’s Something Blue (recorded 1965), tracks 2 and 11–13 are from 1969’s California Mudslide and the last two acoustic numbers (14–15) are from 1964’s Live at the Bird Lounge. Some track names have been slightly changed, I think intentionally, to cover up that this is probably a borderline illegal compilation just grabbing randomly from different sources (which also explains the indiscriminate mix of electric and acoustic tracks from different sessions).

Anyhow, the album Something Blue is here in its entirety though with scrambled sequencing (and inferior sound quality). So that’s okay if you find this in some one-dollar-trash bin, but any serious collector can skip this and go for the actual albums. There really is no point to any of this.

Eric Clapton: Me and Mr Johnson

Rating: 4.1/10
Rated as:
Album
Album Status:
of Discographical Interest
Released: 2004
Specific Genre: Electric Blues
Main Genre: Blues
Undertones: Chicago Blues
Label: Reprise

1 When You Got a Good Friend 2 Little Queen of Spades 3 They’re Red Hot 4 Me and the Devil Blues 5 Travelling Riverside Blues 6 Last Fair Deal Gone Down 7 Stop Breakin‘ Down Blues 8 Milkcow’s Calf Blues 9 Kind Hearted Woman Blues 10 Come on in My Kitchen 11 If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day 12 Love in Vain 13 32-20 Blues 14 Hell Hound on My Trail

Would sell you more, but they ain’t none of mine

As the title – a play on Johnson’s „Me and The Devil Blues“ – doesn’t suggest, Eric Clapton reimagines Robert Johnson’s catalogue of haunting, forlorn, sparse blues as a fun, cheerful romp. The good thing about this decision is that there are no ambiguities about it. This is the kind of relaxed, boisterous electric Chicago blues that Clapton went to musical school with, which dominated the output of popular 1970s and -80s blues and which he only partly followed on his only other straight blues album, 1994’s From the Cradle.

Belying the down-home, decidedly ‚acoustic‘ aesthetics of the album cover (which is outdated in an unsuspected way – a third photograph of Johnson has surfaced eversince, but who could’ve known) with his straight electric blues combo, this might make one think of the exhilarating Cream-reinventions of ethereal Skip James-numbers („I’m So Glad“) or the legendary cover of Johnson’s „Crossroads“. But this homage-album is an entirely different affair, with a consoling, good-natured, smotheringly nostalgic approach that in itself isn’t the problem – but nuance and, so to speak, any individual interpretation of a given song get lost in the overall joviality. Unsurprisingly, this works best on bouncier numbers like the ragtime/hokum „They’re Red Hot“, but that one was an oddity at least in Johnson’s recorded catalogue to begin with (for all we know, he could have had dozens of these shuffling folk and dance numbers in his repertoire like every self-respecting ‚blues‘ performer of the time – there was a market to supply with entertainment and most of these guys had a much broader catalogue than what this or that Lomax recorded).

I can see how this would appeal to Clapton-fans, but laidback as it is, there is a cloud of complacency here. This is the easiest way to make such an album: just have fun with those great songs, suppose a sense of ‚modesty‘. On the upside, this is so to speak the ‚back catalogue‘ of Johnson’s songbook – no „Sweet Home Chicago“, no „I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom“, no „Ramblin’ On My Mind“ – good! On the downside, Clapton uses these songs to play them like unimaginative versions of mentioned, absent standards – take every clichéd electric blues rock element, make it comfy and apply. There is not a note on this record that isn’t a hundred percent predictable, be it the rather subdued rhythm section, the functional piano licks, the disciplined lead guitar or even Clapton’s cautious, very epigonal singing (he tries no tricks with his vocals, maybe for the better). Well, well. Be sure to pick this up if that is what you’re looking for – Clapton romping through fun, in the end indistinct blues rock songs – but I’m afraid as a film, it’d be called „Deconstructing Eric“.

Bloomfield, Hammond, Dr. John: Triumvirate

Rating: 6.2/10
Rated as:
Album
Album Status: of Discographical Interest
Released: 1973
Main Genre: Blues
Specific Genres: Rhythm&Blues, New Orleans Jazz, Funk, Electric Blues
Label: Columbia

1 Cha-Dooky-Doo 2 Last Night 3 I Yi Yi 4 Just to Be With You 5 Baby Let Me Kiss You 6 Sho Bout to Drive Me Wild 7 It Hurts Me Too 8 Rock Me Baby 9 Ground Hog Blues 10 Pretty Thing

Uh-huh! Cha-Dooky-Do! Uh-huh…

Well, apart from Dr. John who had just issued In the Right Place neither John Hammond, having recorded a row of lackluster albums, nor Mike Bloomfield, coming from interesting, draining jam-experiments like The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, were exactly on a hot streak at this point in time. Of course the rootsy music here is rock solid: these guys learned from the masters and had their respective blues idioms down pat. Hammond sings all the songs, making me question if this was supposed to be the start of a supergroup with a „frontman proper“ instead of a one-off project, and while he’s technically the most skilled singer, I’m not sure his mannered style really fits the mood better here than Bloomfield’s comparatively unrefined vocals or Dr. John’s infamous croak.

The album’s most interesting aspects therefore derive from the mix of Chicago- and New Orleans-styles – Dr. John’s presence sort of forces some funky, Orleans-ian piano rhythm&blues into the affair, adding a heavily syncopated base to the more conventional blues patterns. He never really dominates with a solo though, often drowned out by a quite loud horn section – well well. But apart from the album closers (the swampy „Ground Hog Blues“ and the playful, flute-driven „Pretty Thing“), this is mostly solid, not super. I remember being really excited getting this as an American import – I’m still glad I have it, and I’d still recommend it as a historical trophy object, but it’s one of those „obvious“ team-ups that didn’t create additional magic.