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Kansas City Blues (1924-1929) by Various Artists

Label: Document Records.
Release Date: June 2, 1993.
Releases: 1994, 2000, 2001, 2005.
Recording Time: 68 minutes.
Recording Date: March, 1924 - November, 1929.
Release Info: Studio Recording.

Styles: Pre-War Country Blues.

Featured Artists: Sylvester Kimbrough, Lottie Beaman-Kimbrough, Charlie Turner, Lottie Kimbrough and Winston Holmes, Winston Holmes and Charlie Turner, Lena and Sylvester Kimbrough.

This collection presents the complete recordings of Lottie Kimbrough and Winston Holmes, delving into the Kansas City music scene of the 1920s. Kimbrough, who dominates this collection, was an excellent performer of the blues, and her two duets with Holmes integrate the yodels and sound effects of the latter performer into her readings of classic blues; their union of country yodel and bluesy moan, backed by the sophisticated, driving guitar playing of Miles Pruitt, reflects a stylistic and collaborative creativity indicative of Kansas City's musical community. Also joining Kimbrough on two tracks is her singing and kazoo-playing brother Sylvester; unfortunately, heavy surface noise hinders the enjoyment of their duets, but Sylvester emerges as a masterful performer in his own right on two later pieces, in which he delivers wicked, almost effeminate blues against the piano of Paul Banks. Holmes himself is a crucial presence throughout the selections here; as well as a performer, he was a successful promoter and managed much of Kimbrough's career. His duets with guitarist Charlie Turner are primarily novelty pieces, including the unusual two-part "The Death of Holmes' Mule," a parody of religious services and hymns in which Turner's slide guitar imitates a preacher and congregation. The underdog of this album, meanwhile, is Miles Pruitt, whose solid guitar work accompanied Kimbrough throughout her career and provided an excellent complement to her vocal style. Despite the immense talent represented on this collection, its comprehensiveness and the poor sound quality of a number of the recordings should deter most casual listeners; as with all mixed bags, though, there is a number of undeniable and irresistible gems couched in the performances of these very dynamic Kansas City figures.
by Burgin Mathews

Credits: Paul Banks - piano; Lottie Beaman - primary artist; Jimmy Blythe - piano; Winston Holmes - bird calls, duet, primary artist, speech/speaker/speaking part, train whistle, vocals, whistle (human); Papa Charlie Jackson - banjo; Lottie Kimbrough - composer, duet, primary artist, vocals; Johnny Parth - compilation producer; Miles Pruitt - guitar; Charlie Turner - guitar, harmonica, primary artist, speech/speaker/speaking part, vocals.

Tracks: 1) Regular man blues (take 1) - Lottie Beaman (Kimbrough); 2) Honey blues (take 1) - Lottie Beaman (Kimbrough); 3) Red River blues (take 1) - Lottie Beaman (Kimbrough); 4) Sugar daddy blues (take 1) - Lottie Beaman (Kimbrough); 5) Low down painful blues (take 1) - Lottie Beaman (Kimbrough); 6) Mama can't lose (take 1) - Lottie Beaman (Kimbrough); 7) City of the dead - Lena and Sylvester Kimbrough; 8) Cabbage head blues - Lena and Sylvester Kimbrough; 9) Lost lover blues - Lottie Kimbrough and Winston Holmes; 10) Wayward girl blues - Lottie Kimbrough and Winston Holmes; 11) Rolling log blues - Lottie Kimbrough and Winston Holmes; 12) Goin' away blues - Lottie Kimbrough and Winston Holmes; 13) Blue world blues - Lottie Kimbrough and Winston Holmes; 14) The death of Holmes' mule part 1 - Winston Holmesand Charlie Turner; 15) The death of Holmes' mule part 2 - Winston Holmesand Charlie Turner; 16) Rounders lament - Winston Holmesand Charlie Turner; 17) The Kansas City call - Winston Holmesand Charlie Turner; 18) Skinner - Winston Holmesand Charlie Turner; 19) Kansas City dog walk - Winston Holmesand Charlie Turner; 20) Going away blues - Lottie Beaman (Kimbrough); 21) Rollin' log blues - Lottie Beaman (Kimbrough); 22) Garbage can blues - Sylvester Kimbrough; 23) Bird liver blues - Sylvester Kimbrough.