Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways, Vol. 2 by Various Artists

Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recording.
Release Date: September 23, 2003.
Recording Time: 65 minutes.
Release Info: Studio Recording.
Recording Date: 1930 - March 19, 1994.

Styles: Acoustic Blues, Country Blues, Electric Blues, Folk Blues, Piano Blues, Blues Revival, East Coast Blues, Field Recordings, Piedmont Blues, Pre-War Country Blues, Regional Blues.

Like the first volume, this brings together a lengthy single-disc program of blues of various shades from the vaults of Folkways. Most, though not all, of these 22 tracks are acoustic, with acoustic guitar blues being well represented with selections from Leadbelly, Pink Anderson, Son House, Honeyboy Edwards, Big Bill Broonzy, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Josh White, as well as lesser-known figures like Cat Iron, who plays an eerie slide guitar on "Poor Boy a Long, Long Way from Home." Give the compilation credit for supplying a good deal of variety, however, also dipping into piano blues by Roosevelt Sykes, Memphis Slim, and Mary Lou Williams; though Williams is known as a jazz pianist rather than a blues one, she's the accompanist for Nora Lee King's blues-jazz outing "Blues -- Until My Baby Comes Home." There's also room for a little full-band blues too, with Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry's "Dark Road" (on which they're backed by a drummer), and the much fuller "Down in the Alley," an early electric band recording by the Chambers Brothers. And a couple of white performers make it into the program too, those being Barbara Dane, Roscoe Holcomb (with "Graveyard Blues"), and a young Lucinda Williams (who covers "Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor"). A solid and wide-ranging collection this is, but like its predecessor, it suffers from an absence of original recording or release dates for much of the material, though the annotation in the 24-page booklet is otherwise extensive. - Review by Richie Unterberger.

Smithsonian Folkways: For over a century, the blues have continually forged new musical alliances and pushed against boundaries, reaping rich harvests from infusions of diversity, innovation and vitality. With a spark of rock, or a nod to jazz, the blues stay true in spirit and perpetual in their ability to strike a common chord with listeners. On Classic Blues Vol. 2, Lucinda Williams, Roscoe Holcomb and Nora Lee King stand alongside all-time blues greats such as Lead Belly, Son House, and Lightnin' Hopkins. No matter if you prefer your blues raw, acoustic, electric, solo or from a live band, a jukebox or a jook joint, as the blues poet J. Williams once put it, "The blues is good news. Pass it on." Extensive notes. 22 tracks. 64 minutes.

Credits: Angela Allen - production assistant; Pink Anderson - primary artist; Barrelhouse Buck - primary artist; Big Bill Broonzy - composer, primary artist; Henry Brown - piano; Cat-Iron - primary artist; The Chambers Brothers - primary artist; George Chambers - bass; Joe Chambers - guitar; Lester Chambers - harmonica; Willie Chambers - guitar; Samuel Charters - engineer; Barbara Dane - primary artist; Willie Dixon - composer; Harold Dorwin - photo assistance; Billy Eckstine - composer; David Honeyboy Edwards - primary artist; Robert Ellen - composer; Verna Gillis - engineer; John Grimaudo - guitar; Mark Gustafson - photo assistance; Earl Hines - composer; Roscoe Holcomb - primary artist; John Lee Hooker - composer; Lightnin' Hopkins - primary artist; Son House - primary artist; Edith North Johnson - primary artist, vocals; Edith North Johnson & Henry Brown - primary artist; Tamara Johnson - composer; Brian Keenan - drums; Nora Lee King - primary artist, vocals; Nora Lee King & Mary Lou Williams - primary artist; Lead Belly - composer, primary artist; Huddie Ledbetter - composer; Alan Lomax - engineer; Jacob Love - editorial assistant; Shortstuff Macon - primary artist; Trade Martin - composer; Brownie McGhee - composer, guitar, primary artist, vocals; Memphis Slim - primary artist; Mary Monseur - production coordination; Little Brother Montgomery - primary artist; Gene Moore - drums; Margot Nassau - production coordination; Barry Lee Pearson - annotation, liner notes; Jeff Place - archival assistant; Pete Reiniger - mastering, production coordination; Dan Sheehy - production supervisor; Brian Shimkovitz - photo assistance; D.A. Sonneborn - production supervisor; Jay Summerour - harmonica; Roosevelt Sykes - composer, primary artist; Tampa Red - composer; Pat Terry - cover photo; Sonny Terry - harmonica, primary artist, vocals; Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - primary artist; Traditional - composer; F.A. Usher Sr. - photography; John Vachon - photography; Josh White - primary artist; Lucinda Williams - guitar (12 String), primary artist, vocals; Mary Lou Williams - piano, primary artist; Warner Williams - guitar, primary artist, vocals; Marion Post Wolcott - photography.

Tracks: 1) Dark Road - Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry; 2) Step It Up and Go - Warner Williams; 3) It Was Early One Morning - Lead Belly; 4) Blues (Until My Baby Comes Home) - Nora Lee King and Mary Lou Williams; 5) That's No Way to Do - Pink Anderson; 6) Farro Street Jive - Little Brother Montgomery; 7) I Ain't Gonna Cry No More (Depot Blues) - Son House; 8) Graveyard Blues - Roscoe Holcomb; 9) 44 Blues - Roosevelt Sykes; 10) Big Fat Mama - David "Honeyboy" Edwards; 11) Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor - Lucinda Williams; 12) Lieutenant Blues - Thomas McFarland (Barrelhouse Buck); 13) The Woman Is Killing Me - Sonny Terry and Friends; 14) Little Drops of Water - Edith North Johnson and Henry Brown; 15) When Things Go Wrong (It Hurts Me Too) - Big Bill Broonzy; 16) Poor Boy a Long, Long Way From Home - Cat-Iron; 17) My Jack Don't Drink Water No More - Shortstuff Macon; 18) 'Way Behind the Sun - Barbara Dane; 19) Tell Me, Baby - Lightnin' Hopkins; 20) Just A Dream - Memphis Slim; 21) Jelly Jelly - Josh White; 22) Down in the Alley - The Chambers Brothers.