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Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1928-1929) by Barbecue Bob

Label: Document Records.
Release Date: 1991.
Releases: 1992, 2004, 2005.
Recording Time: 71 minutes.
Recording Date: April 21, 1928 - November 3, 1929.
Release Info: Compilation Studio Recording.

Styles: Country Blues, Pre-War Country Blues, Acoustic Blues, Pre-War Blues.

Featured Artists: Barbecue Bob (Robert Hicks), Nellie Florence.

"Barbecue Bob," whose complete output has been reissued on three Document CDs, was a fairly big star by the time he recorded the 23 numbers on Vol. 2. Based in Atlanta (where all of these performances, including a previously unreleased "Unnamed Blues," were recorded), Barbecue Bob (Robert Hicks) performed a friendly repertoire ranging from country blues to the new-fangled hokum music. Among the more memorable selections on this disc are "Mississippi Low-Levee Blues," "Midnight Weeping Blues" (one of two numbers that find him backing singer Nellie Florence), "Beggin' for Love," "It Just Won't Hay," "Black Skunk Blues," and "Me and My Whiskey."
by Scott Yanow

Pesonnel: Barbecue Bob (Robert Hicks) - vocals, twelve-string guitar; Nellie Florence - vocals; accompanied by Barbecue Bob, twelve-string guitar (two tracks).
Informative booklet notes written by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.

Think of the "rural blues" or "country blues" from Atlanta in the late 1920s and it is more than likely that the sound of the iconic twelve-string guitar comes to mind. One of the undisputable "Kings of the twelve-string" from the Atlanta area was Blind McTell (see Documents BDCD-6001, BDCD-6014 and the triple CD; DOCD-5677), yet, if there was such a thing as the guitar sound of Atlanta at the time, it was that of Robert Hicks, better known as Barbecue Bob and his brother Charlie also known as Laughing Charlie (see Document BDCD-6027).

Though Bob's guitar technique didn't have the same complexities and range as that of Willie Mctell, it was powerful, with the use of a hard, slapping, of the lower bass string, contrasted with the high ringing notes, produced, almost exclusively, on the high treble string. Usually, his accompaniments were delivered with a relentless, pulsating rhythm and this simple but winning formula was topped off by his dark, rich, captivating voice.

By the time that he recorded Mississippi Low-Levee Blues, Barbecue Bob was a star among the record buying public, selling, on average, 6,000 copies per record for Columbia's "race series". His songs, sometimes written by others, often written by himself, cover the highs and lows of life. Dollar Down is almost a documentary account of the perils of easy credit; Freeze To Me Mama is a love song for grownups; and Trouble Done Bore Me Down belies its titles with its witty observations:

You got a large family, you don't need no more,
The Doc drop by, you get four or five more.

As well as these blues and others like the fierce California Blues and Yo Yo Blues based on Curley Weaver's 'No No Blues' (see Document DOCD-5110), by April 1929 Bob was adding a new style of music, one that took account of the craze for the sexually allusive "hokum blues" that had been sparked off by Tampa Red & Georgia Tom with 'It's tight Like That' (see Document DOCD-5073). It Just Won't Hay takes close notice of the record though it is has an unmistakable Bob treatment. Even more so is Honey Your (sic) Going Too Fast. As if to try and confirm that he was the master of new music crazes, not their servant, on Red Hot Mama,  Papa's going To Cool You Off, he takes crazy liberties with the structure of this nominally 16 bar composition (but try to count them!) song.

By the end of 1929 the circumstances that lead to Bad Time Blues was under way. Nevertheless, Columbia were to persist with recording Barbecue Bob, for he had proven to be a good seller in economically happier times and his last recordings, made all through 1930, can be heard on Document's third volume of this great blues artist's work on Document DOCD-5048.

Pesonnel: Barbecue Bob (Robert Hicks) - vocals, twelve-string guitar; Nellie Florence - vocals; accompanied by Barbecue Bob, twelve-string guitar (two tracks).
Informative booklet notes written by Chris Smith.
Detailed discography.

Credits: Barbecue Bob - guitar, guitar (rhythm), laughs, primary artist, speech/speaker/speaking part, vocals; Nellie Florence - accompaniment, accordion, vocals; Robert Hicks - guitar, speech/speaker/speaking part, vocals; Johnny Parth - producer; Chris Frazer Smith - liner notes.

Tracks: 1) Mississippi low-levee blues; 2) Ease it to me blues; 3) Jacksonville blues (Nellie Florence, vocal); 4) Midnight weeping blues (Nellie Florence, vocal); 5) She's gone blues; 6) Cold wave blues; 7) Beggin' for love; 8) Bad time blues; 9) Meat man pete; 10) Dollar down blues; 11) It just won't hay; 12) It's just too bad; 13) Good time rounder; 14) Honey your going too fast; 15) Red hot mama papa's going to cool you off; 16) California blues; 17) it's a funny little thing; 18) Black skunk blues; 19) Yo yo blues; 20) Trouble done bore me down; 21) Freeze to me mama; 22) Me and my whiskey; 23) Unnamed blues.