Label: Yazoo, Shanachie Records
Release Date: 1989
Releases: 1990; June 21, 2005
Recording Time: 68 minutes
Recording Date: 1927 - 1929
Styles: Acoustic Blues, Acoustic Texas Blues, Country Blues, Early American Blues, Folk-Blues, Pre-War Blues, Pre-War Country Blues, Regional Blues, Songster, Texas Blues
These recordings, dating between 1927 and 1929, are a unique body of work: work songs, minstrel numbers, rags, and what we now define as the blues, all offered in an unpretentious form that would have been every bit as compelling had Henry Thomas cut them this way 40 years later. Songs such as "Arkansas," "Fox and the Hounds" (featuring the reed pipes that Thomas also excelled at playing), and "Little Red Caboose" represent a brand of upbeat dance music associated with late-19th century entertainment, a tradition already largely lost or becoming lost when Thomas cut these numbers. Yet Thomas, who was already in his 50s when he recorded these tracks, sings and plays them with a beguiling ease and honesty, not to mention a dexterity on the guitar that makes him sound every bit as vital and urgent as Big Bill Broonzy or any of the other up-and-coming blues legends just starting out at the time these sides were laid down. The blues numbers, including "Shanty Blues," "Woodhouse Blues," "Honey, Won't You Allow Me One More Chance?," and "Bull Doze Blues" are compelling in their own right -- they display musical and lyrical virtuosity and, in the latter two cases, offer a chance to hear the sources for classic works by Bob Dylan and Canned Heat, respectively. Luckily for historians, Henry Thomas recorded for Vocalion and not for one of the truly lost labels like Paramount, and all 23 surviving sides of his work sound very good on this CD.
by Bruce Eder
Mastered By: Liner Notes – Nick Perls; Painting, Cover – Frederick Carlson; Producer – Bernard Klatzko; Sleeve Notes – Mack McCormick, Stephen Calt; Vocals, Guitar, Panpipes [Quills] – Henry Thomas.
Henry Thomas credit derived from sleeve notes.
Credits: Stephen Calt - liner notes; Robert Johnson - composer; Bernard Klatzko - producer; Nick Perls - mastering; Henry Thomas - composer, guitar, primary artist, vocals; Traditional - composer; Robert Vosgien - digital mastering.
Tracks: 1) Fishin' Blues; 2) Old Country Stomp; 3) Charmin' Betsy; 4) Lovin' Babe; 5) Railroadin' Some; 6) Don't Leave Me Here; 7) The Little Red Caboose; 8) Bob McKinney; 9) Honey, Won't You Allow Me One More Chance?; 10) Run, Mollie, Run; 11) Shanty Blues; 12) Woodhouse Blues; 13) John Henry; 14) Cottonfield Blues; 15) Arkansas; 16) The Fox and the Hounds; 17) Red River Blues; 18) Jonah in the Wilderness; 19) When the Train Comes Along; 20) Bull Doze Blues; 21) Don't Ease Me In; 22) Texas Easy Street; 23) Texas Worried Blues.