The Greatest Songsters, Complete Works (1927-1929) by Richard Rabbit Brown, Mississippi John Hurt, Hambone Willie Newbern

Label: Document Records.
Release Date: 1990.
Releases: May 27, 1994.
Recording Time: 74 minutes.
Recording Date: March 11, 1927 - March 14, 1929.

Styles: Acoustic Texas Blues, Pre-War Country Blues, Regional Blues, Pre-War Blues, Acoustic Blues, Acoustic Memphis Blues, Blues Revival, Country Blues, Delta Blues, Songster.

Featured Artists: Richard 'Rabbit' Brown, Mississippi John Hurt, Hambone Willie Newbern.

This delightful disc collects the complete recorded work of three unique 1920s blues performers, Richard "Rabbit" Brown, Mississippi John Hurt, and Hambone Willie Newbern, each of whom had a highly individualized style in a genre known for homologous performers. Of these three, Hurt is easily the best known, due in part to his re-discovery in the 1960s with his skills still intact. All 13 of his Okeh sides recorded in 1928 are here, including the lovely "Blue Harvest Blues," and each exhibits his intricate guitar style and soft, gentle voice. Brown recorded five tracks in New Orleans in 1927 for Victor Records, and where Hurt is a fluid and composed performer, Brown is raggedy and halting with a voice that scratches and keens, but he brings a kind of everyman passion to his highly personal songs. "James Alley Blues" is a classic song of desperate frustration, with just a hint of humor (at least we hope it's humor, if not, then this is an absolutely murderous song). Brown's other songs here show equal amounts of odd phrasing and unexpected turns, and while he isn't a great guitarist, he builds his tunes with a kind of accumulative narrative force that makes each a singular performance. Newburn recorded six songs in Atlanta on March 13 and 14, 1929, for Okeh Records, and while his material isn't as immediately striking as Hurt's or Brown's, he shows himself to be a skillful, if unassuming, guitar player, and cuts like "Nobody Knows (What the Good Deacon Does)" are full of sly humor. A lot of early country blues players were, quite frankly, interchangeable, all out there working similar territory. These three, however, were each cut from their own unique cloth. - Review by Steve Leggett

Credits: Richard Rabbit Brown - composer, guitar, primary artist, vocals; Mississippi John Hurt - composer, guitar, performer, primary artist, vocals; Hambone Willie Newbern - composer, guitar, guitar (rhythm), performer, primary artist, vocals; Johnny Parth - compilation producer, guitar, producer, vocals; Chris Smith - liner notes; Traditional - composer.

Tracks: 1) James Alley blues - Richard 'Rabbit' Brown; 2) Never let the same bee sting you twice - Richard 'Rabbit' Brown; 3) I`m not jealous - Richard 'Rabbit' Brown; 4) Mystery of the Dunbar`s child - Richard 'Rabbit' Brown; 5) Sinking of the Titanic - Richard 'Rabbit' Brown; 6) Frankie - Mississippi John Hurt; 7) Nobody`s dirty business - Mississippi John Hurt; 8) Ain`t no tellin` - Mississippi John Hurt; 9) Louis Collins - Mississippi John Hurt; 10) Avalon blues - Mississippi John Hurt; 11) Big leg blues - Mississippi John Hurt; 12) Stack o`Lee blues - Mississippi John Hurt; 13) Candy man blues - Mississippi John Hurt; 14) Got the blues can`t be satisfied - Mississippi John Hurt; 15) Blessed be the name - Mississippi John Hurt; 16) Praying on the old camp ground - Mississippi John Hurt; 17) Blue harvest blues - Mississippi John Hurt; 18) Spike driver blues - Mississippi John Hurt; 19) She could toodle-oo - Hambone Willie Newbern; 20) Nobody knows (what the good deacon does) - Hambone Willie Newbern; 21) Shelby County workhouse blues - Hambone Willie Newbern; 22) Way down in Arkansas - Hambone Willie Newbern; 23) Hambone Willie`s dreamy-eyed woman`s blues - Hambone Willie Newbern; 24) Roll and tumble blues - Hambone Willie Newbern.