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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Cool Cool Blues, The Classic Sides 1951-1954 by Sonny Boy Williamson

Label: JSP Records.
Release Date: Feb. 20, 2006, Mar. 14, 2006.
Recording Time: 277 minutes.
Recording Date: March 12, 1951 - November 12, 1954.
Release Info: Compilation Studio Recording.
Recording information: Houston (03/12/1951-11/12/1954); Jackson (03/12/1951-11/12/1954); Memphis (03/12/1951-11/12/1954).

Styles: Electric Harmonica Blues, Harmonica Blues, Electric Blues, Electric Delta Blues, Regional Blues, Delta Blues.

Recorded in: Jackson 1951 - tracks 1-1 to 1-17, 2-1 to 2-12, 2-17, 2-18, 3-1 to 3-12; Jackson 1952 - tracks 2-13 to 2-16, 4-18, 4-19; Memphis 1952 - tracks 3-15 to 3-23; Houston 1953 and 1954 - tracks 3-13, 3-14, 4-1 to 4-4, 4-11, 4-12, 4-24 to 4-26; Jackson 1953 and 1954 - tracks 1-18 to 1-25, 2-19 to 2-25, 3-24, 3-25, 4-5 to 4-17, 4-20 to 4-23.

Rice Miller (or Alec or Aleck Miller -- everything about this blues great is somewhat of a mystery) probably didn't need to take the name of the original Sonny Boy Williamson (John Lee Williamson) to get noticed, since in many ways he was the better musician, but Miller seemed to revel in confusion, at least when it came to biographical facts, so for whatever reason, blues history has two Sonny Boy Williamsons. Like the first Williamson, Miller was a harmonica player, but he really sounded nothing like his adopted namesake, favoring a light, soaring, almost horn-like sound on the instrument. He was also a natural songwriter, and his blues-based compositions show a sharp attention to detail unusual in a genre built largely on cliché and a handful of repeated patterns. This four-disc collection brings together all of his first recordings, done for Lillian McMurry's Trumpet Records, a tiny Jackson, MS, label that issued Williamson's sides from 1951 until 1955, at which time his contract was bought out by Chicago's Chess Records, who then began issuing his sides on the Checker imprint. From the first track here, the sparse and urgent "Eyesight to the Blind," it is obvious that Williamson was something special, with a clear vision of what he wanted to do, and song after song here exhibits a rough and wild joy, walking the blues side of the street with a loose-limbed swagger. Particularly striking is "Mighty Long Time," a duet of sorts featuring Williamson on vocals and harmonica, and Cliff Givens of the Southern Sons Gospel Quartet on vocal bass. Givens' sung bassline gives the tune an odd, eerie, and atmospheric edge, and it is simply a remarkable recording. The great slide guitarist Elmore James also shows up on several cuts, including the delightfully realized "Pontiac Blues," and Williamson adds his harp to the first-ever version of James' classic "Dust My Broom." Many of the tracks here feature Williamson in his role as a sideman, adding harmonica textures to recordings by James, Big Joe Williams, Luther Huff, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Bobo Thomas, Jerry McCain, Willie Love, Sherman "Blues" Johnson, Tiny Kennedy, and Wally Mercer, making this set a stunning survey of early-'50s country blues. Williamson's Checker sides were better recorded, but the ragged skill at work on these Trumpet recordings really shouldn't be missed. Without going to a Delta juke joint on a hot Saturday night, you can't get much closer to the center of the blues than this.
by Steve Leggett

Personnel: Elmore James, Luther Huff, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Big Joe Williams, Bobo "Slim" Thomas (vocals, guitar); Jerry "Boogie" McCain (vocals, harmonica); Willie Love (vocals, piano); Cliff Givens, Tiny Kennedy (vocals); Percy Huff, Carl "Wimpy" Jones, Christopher Collins, Lonnie Holmes, J.V. Turner, Joe Willie Wilkins, Lester Williams, Milton Campbell, B.B. King, James Williams , Calvin Newborn (guitar); Bernard Williams (saxophone, tenor saxophone); Carlton Wells (saxophone); Robert Hamp, Bill Fort, Richard "Dickie Boy" Lillie, Duke Huddleston (tenor saxophone); Richard Sanders (baritone saxophone); J.W. Walker, Phineas Newborn, Jr., Ford Nelson (piano); Joe Dyson, Junior Blackman, Houston Stokes, Walter McCain, Alex Wallace, Rusty Alfred (drums).

Liner Note Author: Neil Slaven.
Unknown Contributor Role: Cliff Givens.

Personnel includes: Richard Sanders - baritone saxophone (tracks 3-15 to 3-23); Buck Henson - bass (tracks 4-1 to 4-4, 4-11, 4-12, 4-24 to 4-26); Herman Fowlkes - bass; Johnny Morgan - bass (tracks 1-22, 1-23, 4-7 to 4-9); Leonard Ware - bass; Raz Roseby - bass; T.J. Green - bass (tracks 2-3 to 2-8, 3-5 to 3-12); Wilbur Steinberg - bass (tracks 3-19 to 3-23); Cliff Givens - bass, vocals (tracks 1-11 to 1-17); Houston Stokes - drums (tracks 3-19 to 3-23); Junior Blackman - drums; O'Neil Hudson - drums (tracks 1-19 to 1-21, 4-5 to 4-23);  Phineas Newborn Sr. - drums (tracks 3-15 to 3-18); Rusty Alfred - drums (tracks 4-1 to 4-4, 4-11, 4-12, 4-24 to 4-26); B.B. King - guitar (tracks 1-24, 1-25, 4-10, 4-15, 4-17); Big Joe Williams - guitar; Calvin Newborn - guitar (tracks 3-15 to 3-23); Carl "Wimpy" Jones - guitar (tracks 1-24, 1-25, 4-10, 4-15, 4-17); Christopher Collins - guitar (tracks 2-19 to 2-25);  J.V. Turner - guitar; Joe Willie Wilkins - guitar; Lester Williams - guitar (tracks 4-1 to 4-4, 4-11, 4-12, 4-24 to 4-26); Little Milton - guitar (tracks 3-5 to 3-12); Percy Huff - guitar (tracks 2-9 to 2-12); Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup - guitar, vocals; Elmore James  - guitar, vocals (tracks 1-3 to 1-10, 2-18); Luther Huff - guitar, vocals; Jerry "Boogie" McCain - harmonica, vocals; Sonny Boy Williamson - harmonica, vocals; Ford Nelson - piano (tracks 3-19 to 3-23), Phineas Newborn Jr. - piano (tracks 3-15 to 3-18), Willie Love - piano, vocals; Bernard Williams - saxophone; Otis Green - tenor saxophone (tracks: 3-1 to 3-4); Wally Mercer - tenor saxophone, vocals; Sherman "Blues" Johnson - vocals; Tiny Kennedy - vocals.

Credits: Rusty Alfred - drums; Junior Blackman - drums; Milton Campbell - guitar; Christopher Collins - guitar; Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup - guitar, primary artist, vocals; Joe Dyson - drums; Bill Fort - sax (tenor); Herman Fowlkes - bass; Cliff Givens - bass, vocals; T.J. Green - bass; Robert Hamp - sax (tenor); Buck Henson - bass; Lonnie Holmes - guitar; Duke Huddleston - sax (tenor); Luther Huff - guitar, primary artist, vocals; Percy Huff - guitar; Elmore James - guitar, primary artist, vocals; Sherman Johnson - primary artist; Carl "Wimpy" Jones - guitar; Tiny Kennedy - primary artist, vocals; B.B. King - guitar; Richard "Dickie Boy" Lillie - sax (tenor); Willie Love - piano, primary artist, vocals; Jerry "Boogie" McCain - harmonica, primary artist, vocals; Walter McCain - drums; Wally Mercer - performer, primary artist; Johnny Morgan - bass; Ford Nelson - piano; Calvin Newborn - guitar; Phineas Newborn, Jr. - piano; Raz Roseby - bass; Richard Sanders - sax (baritone); Neil Slaven - liner notes; Wilburn Steinberg - bass; Houston Stokes - drums; Bobo "Slim" Thomas - guitar, primary artist, vocals; J.V. Turner - guitar; J.W. Walker - piano; Alex Wallace - drums; Leonard Ware - bass; Carlton Wells - saxophone; Joe Willie Wilkins - guitar; Bernard Williams - sax (tenor), saxophone; Big Joe Williams - guitar, primary artist, vocals; James Williams - guitar; Lester Williams - guitar; Sonny Boy Williamson II - primary artist; Sonny Boy Williamson I - primary artist.

Tracks, Disc 1: 1) Eyesight to the Blind; 2) Crazy About You Baby; 3) Stop Crying; 4) Do It If You Wanna; 5) Cool, Cool Blues; 6) Come on Back Home; 7) I Cross My Heart; 8) West Memphis Blues; 9) Sonny Boy's Christmas Blues; 10) Pontiac Blues; 11) Mighty Long Time; 12) Nine Below Zero; 13) She Brought Life Back to the Dead (45); 14) She Brought Life Back to the Dead (78); 15) Too Close Together; 16) Stop Now Baby; 17) Mr. Down Child; 18) Cat Hop; 19) Gettin' Out of Town; 20) Red Hot Kisses; 21) Going in Your Direction; 22) Empty Bedroom; 23) Boppin' With Sonny; 24) From the Bottom; 25) No Nights by Myself.

Tracks, Disc 2: 1) Mama Don't Allow Me - (with Big Joe Williams); 2) Delta Blues - (with Big Joe Williams); 3) Overhauling Blues - (with Big Joe Williams); 4) Whistling Pines - (with Big Joe Williams); 5) Friends and Pals - (with Big Joe Williams); 6) Juanita - (with Big Joe Williams); 7) She Left Me a Mule - (with Big Joe Williams); 8) Bad Heart Blues - (with Big Joe Williams); 9) Dirty Disposition - (with Big Joe Williams); 10) 1951 Blues - (with Big Joe Williams); 11) Bull Dog Blues - (with Big Joe Williams); 12) Rosalee - (with Big Joe Williams); 13) My Baby Boogies All the Time - (with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup); 14) I Wonder - (with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup); 15) Gotta Find My Baby - (with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup); 16) Make a Little Love - (with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup); 17) Catfish Blues - (with Bobo "Slim" Thomas); 18) Dust My Broom - (with Elmore James); 19) East of the Sun - (with Jerry "Boogie" McCain); 20) Wine-O-Wine - (with Jerry "Boogie" McCain); 21) Stay Out of Automobiles - (with Jerry "Boogie" McCain); 22) Middle of the Night - (with Jerry "Boogie" McCain); 23) Love to Make Up - (with Jerry "Boogie" McCain); 24) Crazy 'Bout That Mess - (with Jerry "Boogie" McCain); 25) Fall Guy - (with Jerry "Boogie" McCain).

Tracks, Disc 3: 1) Take It Easy Baby - (with Willie Love); 2) Little Car Blues - (with Willie Love); 3) Everybody's Fishing - (with Willie Love); 4) My Own Boogie - (with Willie Love); 5) Feed My Body to the Fishes - (with Willie Love); 6) Falling Rain - (with Willie Love); 7) Vanity Dresser Boogie - (with Willie Love); 8) Seventy Four Blues - (with Willie Love); 9) 21 Minutes to Nine - (with Willie Love); 10) Shady Lane Blues - (with Willie Love); 11) Nelson Street Blues - (with Willie Love); 12) V-8 Ford - (with Willie Love); 13) Shout Brother, Shout - (with Willie Love); 14) Way Back - (with Willie Love); 15) Pretty Baby Blues - (with Sherman "Blues" Johnson); 16) Sugar Mama - (with Sherman "Blues" Johnson); 17) Hot Fish - (with Sherman "Blues" Johnson); 18) Lost in Korea - (with Sherman "Blues" Johnson); 19) Early in the Morning Baby - (with Tiny Kennedy); 20) Strange Kind of Feeling - (with Tiny Kennedy); 21) Blues Disease - (with Tiny Kennedy); 22) Don't Lay This Job on Me - (with Tiny Kennedy); 23) Have You Heard About the Farmer's Daughter - (with Tiny Kennedy); 24) Too Old to Get Married - (with Wally Mercer); 25) If You Don't Mean Business - (with Wally Mercer); 26) Hey, Miss Lula - (with Wally Mercer).

Tracks, Disc 4: 1) She's Crazy; 2) 309; 3) Sonny's Rhythm; 4) City of New Orleans; 5) Keep It to Yourself; 6) Going in Your Direction; 7) Clowning With the World; 8) I Ain't Beggin' Nobody; 9) Shuckin' Mama; 10) From the Bottom; 11) She's Crazy; 12) Sonny's Rhythm; 13) Keep It to Yourself; 14) Going in Your Direction; 15) From the Bottom; 16) I Ain't Beggin' Nobody; 17) From the Bottom; 18) Gotta Find My Baby - (with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup); 19) Gotta Find My Baby - (with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup); 20) Worried Blues - (with Willie Love); 21) Lonesome World Blues - (with Willie Love); 22) Wonderful Baby - (with Willie Love); 23) Willie Mae - (with Willie Love); 24) Worried Blues - (with Willie Love); 25) Shout, Brother, Shout - (with Willie Love); 26) Willie Mae - (with Willie Love).