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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Mississippi Blues, Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 4 (1935-1955) by Robert Johnson, Robert Lockwood, Otto Virgil

Label: Document Records
Release Date: October 9, 2007
Recording Time: 62 minutes
Recording Date: 1935 - 1955

Styles: Acoustic Blues, Delta Blues, Pre-War Blues, Pre-War Country Blues, Regional Blues, Slide Guitar Blues, Electric Delta Blues, Chicago Blues

Featured Artists: Robert Johnson, Robert Lockwood, Otto Virgil

Personnel: Otto Virgil - vocal, guitar; Robert Johnson - vocal, guitar; Robert Lockwood Jr. - vocal, guitar. With contributions by: Sunnyland Slim - piano; Alfred Elkins - bass; Alfred Wallace - drums.

A sort of odds and ends collection that was originally issued on LP in 1987, Mississippi Blues, Vol. 4 gathers several alternate takes from Robert Johnson recorded between November 1936 and June 1937, including versions of "Cross Road Blues" and "Love in Vain," eight rare sides recorded by Robert Lockwood, Jr. between 1941 and 1955, and the complete recorded works of Otto Virgil (his actual last name appears to have been "Virgial"), which consists of four sides recorded in Chicago on Halloween in 1925. This set sort of unintentionally traces the migration and changes of the Delta blues as it moved north out of Mississippi and on to cities like Chicago. The Lockwood tracks are actually probably the rarest here, since the Johnson material is all included in the Columbia box, and Virgil's sides show up as single tracks on various other anthologies.
by Steve Leggett

Informative booklet notes by Gary Atkinson.

Document Records, detailed discography:
This album was originally released in 1987 as DLP 519 in the early years of Document Records vinyl productions, prior to the changeover to CD format. The opportunity to re-release it has allowed us to include take 1 of Robert Johnson's Travelling Riverside Blues. This track having not been released as part of Johnson's original output was issued for the first time on Document (‘Too Late, Too Late. Volume 11’ DOCD-5625).

The Great Migration of Black Americans from the rural southern to the urban areas of the North got under way in earnest during the 1890’s. Attracted by the promise of work and an independent life, thousands migrated in an attempt to leave the shadow of the poor and treacherous “Jim Crow Ruled “society behind them. The move gathered pace as word of opportunities for work and higher living standards reverberated up and down the highways and railroads connecting the South to the North. Pullman porters on the Illinois Central Railroad distributed the Chicago Defender (a black newspaper) on their trips south, encouraging the migration of fellow blacks to Chicago. In the cities of the North, vast black ghettos appeared. Chicago’s black population grew from 44,000 in 1910 to 110,000 in 1920. The trend of more blacks moving north rather than south would continue into the 1970s.

With the newcomers came their music. It was typical of most musicians to move north and settle there; initially taking up employment outside of their musical activities, however many took their chance and tried to survive by playing for bigger audiences eager to listen to the sounds that they had left behind. It was to become known as “down home” music.

Credits: Alex Atkins - sax (alto); Gary Atkinson - audio production, compilation producer, liner notes, remastering, series compilation, series producer; Alfred Elkins - bass; Robert Johnson - primary artist; Robert Colin Johnson - guitar, vocals; Robert Lockwood, Jr. - guitar, primary artist, vocals; Johnny Parth - audio production, compilation producer, series compilation, series producer; John Tefteller - cover photo; Otto Virgil - guitar, primary artist, vocals; Alfred Wallace - drums; Kevin Witt - graphic design.

Tracks: 1) Little Girl In Rome - Otto Virgil; 2) Bad Notion Blues - Otto Virgil; 3) Got The Blues About Rome - Otto Virgil; 4) Seven Year Itch - Otto Virgil; 5) Ramblin' On My Mind - Robert Johnson; 6) Come On In My Kitchen - Robert Johnson; 7) Terraplane Blues - Robert Johnson; 8) Phonograph Blues - Robert Johnson; 9) Cross Road Blues - Robert Johnson; 10) Walkin' Blues - Robert Johnson; 11) Little Queen Of Spades - Robert Johnson; 12) Drunken Hearted Man - Robert Johnson; 13) Stop Breakin' Down Blues - Robert Johnson; 14) Traveling Riverside Blues - Robert Johnson; 15) Love In Vain - Robert Johnson; 16) Black Spider Blues - Robert Lockwood; 17) I'm Gonna Train My Baby - Robert Lockwood; 18) Little Boy Blue - Robert Lockwood; 19) Take A Little Walk With Me - Robert Lockwood; 20) I'm Gonna Dig A Hole Myself - Robert Lockwood; 21) Dust My Broom - Robert Lockwood; 22) Aw Aw Baby (Sweet Home Chicago) - Robert Lockwood; 23) Sweet Woman From Maine - Robert Lockwood.