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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1931-1934) by Charley Jordan

Label: Document Records.
Release Date: August 15, 1992.
Recording Time: 65 minutes.
Release Info: Compilation Studio Recording.
Recording Date: September 28, 1931 - August, 1934.

Styles: Acoustic Memphis Blues, Regional Blues, St. Louis Blues, Pre-War Country Blues, Acoustic Blues.

As good as the Charley Jordan material here is, the real find of this disc is Hi Henry Brown's recording of "Titanic Blues" and its guitar duet between Brown and Jordan. As a piece of belated topical blues, it is an extraordinary song, but the exciting interplay between two guitars really makes the record and, coupled with Brown's rough-hewn voice, makes it a track to own -- the additional Brown/Jordan tracks "Preacher Blues" and "Nut Factory Blues" constitute a good bonus. This volume of Charley Jordan's material covers the period from his brief stay at Victor Records (four sides cut in September of 1931) to his first session with a full band on Decca Records in the summer of 1934. The four Victor sides (which were cut in Chicago) have a peculiar, authentic "live" ambience that, coupled with their good fidelity, makes them especially vibrant; Peetie Wheatstraw's piano accompaniment has a certain distance and echo that evokes a true club atmosphere. Jordan's subsequent Vocalion sides give much greater prominence to the guitar and Wheatstraw's piano isn't nearly as vivid. As a solo player, Jordan was more laidback, but he still manages to impress as a virtuoso. The four Decca sides are the best recordings here on a technical level -- "It Ain't Clean" is amazingly crisp -- but two of them, "Lost Airship Blues" (what a title, and what a phallic image) and "Rolling Moon Blues," are particularly notable for the presence of a full band, complete with sax and violin. Their sound is completely different (although Jordan still makes himself felt on guitar) from Jordan's earlier output, but both find him able to work well in this more sophisticated idiom. The overall audio quality is good, apart from the barely listenable "Brown Skin Angel" -- a few sides, like "Hell Bound Boy Blues" and the wonderful "Rolling Moon Blues," are a little noisy, but that's par for the course. - Review by Bruce Eder.

Personnel: Charley Jordan - vocals, guitar; Peetie Wheatstraw - piano; "Hi" Henry Brown - vocals, guitar; accompanied possibly by Arnett Nelson, clarinet on 18, 19; unknown, sax on 18; possibly Bill Lowry - violin on 18, 19; prob. Peetie Wheatstraw - piano; unknown, traps (except on 21).

Credits: Charley Jordan - guitar, primary artist, vocals; Arnett Nelson - clarinet; Johnny Parth - producer; Yank Rachell - composer; Peetie Wheatstraw - piano; Kevin Witt - graphic design.

Tracks: 1) Greyhound Blues - Charley Jordan; 2) Workingman's Blues - Charley Jordan; 3) Santa Claus Blues - Charley Jordan; 4) Bad Breaks Blues - Charley Jordan; 5) Doin' Wrong Blues - Charley Jordan; 6) Honey Sucker Blues - Charley Jordan; 7) Sugar Farm Blues - Charley Jordan; 8) Titanic Blues - Hi Henry Brown; 9) Preacher Blues - Hi Henry Brown; 10) Cherry Wine Woman - Charley Jordan; 11) Hell Bound Boy Blues - Charley Jordan; 12) Nut Factory Blues - Hi Henry Brown; 13) Hospital Blues - Hi Henry Brown; 14) Brown Skin Angel - Hi Henry Brown; 15) Skin Man Blues - Hi Henry Brown; 16) Don't Pat It So Long - Hi Henry Brown; 17) Bottle Passing Blues - Hi Henry Brown; 18) Lost Airship Blues - Charley Jordan; 19) Rolling Moon Blues - Charley Jordan; 20) It Ain't Clean (That Thing Ain't Clean) - Charley Jordan; 21) Tight Time Blues - Charley Jordan.