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Backwood Blues 1926-1935 by Sam Butler (Bo Weavil Jackson), Bobby Grant, King Solomon Hill, Lane Hardin

Label: Document Records.
Release Date: January 1, 1991.
Recording Time: 68 minutes.
Release Info: Studio Recording.
Releases: January 10, 1996; October 25, 2005.
Recording Date: August, 1926 - July 28, 1935.

Styles: Country Blues, Delta Blues, Regional Blues.

Featured Artists: Bobby Grant, Lane Hardin, King Solomon Hill, Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler).

Backwood Blues 1926-1935 contains a selection of material from the early country-blues singers. The best-known name is Bo Weavel Jackson, who has the best cuts on this 18-track collection; Bobby Grant, King Solomon Hill and Lane Hardin are the other singers here. While the Jackson cuts are uniformly interesting, much of the music here is only appealing to specialists and academics. For anyone else, the exacting chronological sequencing, poor fidelity (everything was transferred from acetates and 78s) and uneven performances make this collection of marginal interest.
Review by Thom Owens.

Personnel: Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler) - vocals, guitar; Bobby Grant - vocals, guitar; King Solomon Hill - vocals, guitar; Lane Hardin - vocals, guitar.
Informative booklet notes by Paul Oliver.
Includes detailed discography.

Beyond the few metalled highways in the South of six decades ago the dirt roads wound through the country, linking the settlements and farm communities of the backwoods. Some farms were literally in the woods, established in the untidily cleared forest. But the term "backwoods" was loosely applied to any isolated settlement where few people had any experience of the larger world of the Southern cities. In most communities though, there were musicians who played for dances or at the roadside jukes, and a number of them gained a more than local reputation. Some, more adventurous than their companions, went "down the dirt road" to try their luck in town. Sam Butler's Paramount recordings were released as by "Bo Weavil". His first title, Pistol Blues sung in his rather high, somewhat strident voice, was partly based on the "Crow Jane" theme. Jackson's vocal style was that of a singer accustomed to Street singing and it's very likely that he would have sung spirituals to people coming back from Church. He chose a couple for this session, including an early recorded version of When the Saints Come Marching In. A week or two later Jackson was in New York, recording for the Vocalion company who issued his records as by Sam Butler. He made a heartfelt version of one of the oldest blues Poor Boy ... "long ways from home", with his bottleneck slide whispering on the strings. Clearly, his mind was on Alabama as Jefferson County Blues confirms. We are able to eavesdrop on his creative process as he reworked it with a second take. It seems that he took the train back South, and the dirt road to his backwoods home and obscurity. Bobby Grant too, was recorded in Chicago - but he was thinking of Atlanta, Georgia, in his Lonesome Atlanta Blues with its perfectly placed, hanging notes. Grant's words on Nappy Head were full of backwoods references as he sang "you' like a turkey, comin' through the mamlish corn." A little more is known of King Solomon Hill. He had a style of his own, using impeccable falsettos, as on the second take of Whoopee Blues. His masterly account of trying to hobo a ride on The Gone Dead Train is haunting in the matching of guitar and vocal. It was the "hard times" of the Depression about which Lane Hardin sang in his calling voice. Perhaps he succeeded in taking the train across the California Desert to the land of his dreams, Los Angeles. But it's more than likely that he stayed at home in, we may assume from his guitar style, Mississippi.

Credits: Bob Grant - composer, guitar, primary artist, vocals; Lane Hardin - composer, guitar, performer, primary artist, vocals; King Solomon Hill - composer, performer, primary artist; Joe Holmes - guitar, vocals; Bo Weavil Jackson - composer, performer, primary artist; Paul Oliver - liner notes; Johnny Parth - compilation producer; Traditional - composer.

Tracks: 1) Pistol Blues - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 2) Some Scream High Yellow - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 3) You Can't Keep No Brown - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 4) When the Saints Go Marching In - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 5) I'm on My Way to the Kingdom Land - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 6) Why Do You Moan? - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 7) Devil and My Brown Blues Test - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 8) Poor Boy Blues - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 9) Jefferson County Blues - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 10) Jefferson County Blues (alt. Take) - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 11) You Can' Keep No Brown Test - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 12) Christians Fight on, Your Time Ain't Long - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 13) Heaven Is My View - Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler); 14) Nappy Head Blues - Bob Grant; 15) Lonesome Atlanta Blues - Bob Grant; 16) Whoopee Blues (Take 1) - King Solomon Hill; 17) Whoopee Blues (Take 2) - King Solomon Hill; 18) Down on My Bended Knee (Take 1) - King Solomon Hill; 19) Down on My Bended Knee (Take 2) - King Solomon Hill; 20) The Gone Dead Train - King Solomon Hill; 21) Tell Me Baby - King Solomon Hill; 22) Hard Time Blues - Lane Hardin; 23) California Desert Blues - Lane Hardin.