Label: Aldabra Records.
Release Info: Vinyl, Compilation, LP.
Recording Date: 1925 - 1927.
Styles: Acoustic Texas Blues, Country Blues, Field Recordings, Pre-War Gospel Blues, Regional Blues, Texas Blues.
One Dime Blues collects 16 tracks Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded for Paramount in the late '20s, including "Corinna Blues." While it isn't a definitive retrospective, the collection is a nice overview and offers a good sampling of Jefferson's sound. - Review by Thom Owens.
Aldabra Records (ALB 1006):
Clarence 'Blind Lemon' Jefferson was the first country blues singer to claim a national audience for what was still a local music. Previously, it was the female classic blues singers who had pulled together the regional strands of American culture, with a style that was based on the location of the performance, the stage, rather than their home territory. Jefferson, between 1925 and 1929, changed the emphasis. The Delta blues singer, Eddie 'Son' House, as a result, called him "one of the crack-batters in record making". However, Jefferson also exemplified the world of the itinerant blues singer before the Second World War. He was born on a farm in Wortham, Texas, some eighty miles south of Dallas, reputedly in 1897. As Leadbelly had claimed some time in the late 1880s would be a more accurate birth date. He was partially sighted at best. Throughout his successful musical career, he used minders to direct him around the districts where street playing was the most profitable for the cup tied to his guitar. Nevertheless, he could apparently identify various types of money bills in seconds, perhaps aided by the rarer appearance of those higher donations during the earlier years of the century. His career began in the Texas cotton towns that fell below Dallas; playing with Leadbelly, for instance, in the bars of Dallas, the rough houses of Silver City, and railroad stations throughout the state. He followed the harvesting of the cotton crop, plaing for migrant workers, and played at picnics and parties wherever he could. He took work where he found it. Dallas was becoming a focus for a black migration in the early 1900s. A black population of around 10,000 had doubled by 1920, largely through the devastation caused by the boll weevil to cotton crops, driving many farmers and sharecroppers from the land. The poor areas of the city became poorer with an influx of rural families with no obvious source of income, but blues activity was commensurately prolific. T-Bone Walker, who was himself to establish many of the groundrules for electric blues guitar, using the principles established by Jefferson, claimed to have led Jefferson around Dallas, and to have dined with him most weekends during the early 1920s. During that time, Jefferson seemingly married a girl called Roberta and they had a child, but neither stopped the travelling. Dallas was the professional home, though Chicago was to be his recording equivalent. By the mid-1920s, Jefferson's success around the towns of Texas end the neighbouring states was sutficient to bring him to the attention of a Paramount Records Company scout as being a potential big seller, particularly as disabled black singers had been tipped as being marketable in the trade press. Recording primarily in Chicago, and for Paramount, Jefferson's first sides were as a religious singer, a more neutral form recorded as Deacon L.J. Bates. Soon he had reverted to a more natural form of material. Occasionally accompanied by piano, he recorded a hundred tracks in the four years before his death, a session every two months. In the process, Jefferson helped to restructure the way the nascent 'black' music industry was constructed. Prior to Jefferson's success, all attention had been directed to the female 'classic' blues like Mamie and Bessie Smith, and Victoria Spivey, urban stylists rather than country blues to a wide market. Jefferson know and worked with, the blues tradition well: the old standard, 'Easy Rider', reappers as 'Corrina Blues', later to be recorded by Bob Dylan; 'Hot Dogs', a traditional guitar instrumental with vocal interjections, was also recorded by Leadbelly and Mance Lipscomb under different names; whilst 'One Dime Blues' has its origins in the traditional song 'Make Me a Pallet', or, as it was known in Texas, "Out And Down'. Material was available, and could be profitably utilised. However, he also introduced into the blues tradition, then publicised, a variety of forceful images; clothes packed into matchboxes ('Matchbox Blues'); black snakes crawling in bedrooms ('Black Snake Moan'). These were images so powerful and direct that thay became part of blues folklore, so influential that they were adopted into the folk tradition of songwriting. For such a succesful musician, though, little is really known of Jefferson. Only one photograph is thought to exist, a publicist's or photographer's inscription of the singer's name gracing the portrait. Owerweight, there was little doubt that Jefferson was making a reasonable living at the time. He died in December of 1929, seemingly in the cold of Chicago. Older myths tell of an ageing street singer, ploughing through the show, falling down with the fatal heart attack. A gravestone was commissioned, through a public campaign, in 1967: success was obviously transitory. More modern research, though, tells of Jefferson collapsing and dying in his chauffeur-driven car, and a woman representing herself as his widow deciding that all bank account monies belonged to her. The image is either poverly-stricken rural boy or successful musician: the latter image is, no doubt, more accurate. - by Paul Fryer.
Credits: Blind Lemon Jefferson - guitar, primary artist, vocals.
Tracks: 1) All I Want Is That Pure Religion (1925); 2) Booster Blues (1926); 3) Dry Southern Blues (1926); 4) Black Horse Blues (1926); 5) Corinna Blues (1926); 6) Chock House Blues (1926); 7) Wartime Blues (1926); 8) Rabbit Foot Blues (1926); 9) Black Snake Moan (1927); 10) Rambler Blues (1927); 11) How Long, How Long (1927); 12) Matchbox Blues (1927); 13) Hot Dogs (1927); 14) He Arose From The Dead (1927); 15) One Dime Blues (1927); 16) Easy Rider Blues (1927).