V.A. Copulatin' Blues 1996

V.A. Copulatin’ Blues 1996

Blues

Get your mojo working with this CD from Mojo Records. “The Copulatin’ Blues” is bound to put some of ya’ll in heat.
This CD contains tracks spanning from 1929-1947. I’ve only heard of one of the songs before, but there are legendary artists like Jelly Roll Morton, Alberta Hunter, and Sidney Bechet & his New Orchestra.

While the recording quality isn’t as good as on “Risqué Rhythms: Nasty 50’s R& B”, I think it would loose its charm if it was. These songs are rough and gritty. The recording studio did not (or could not) over produce the rawness out of the music so the edges are sharp. These are “race records” being saved from complete obscurity.

The songs offer varying degrees of subtlety from the play-on-words in the song “Yas! Yas! Yas!” by Jimmy Strange, the Yas Yas Yas Man to the explicit version of “Shave `Em Dry” by Lucille Bogan and the downright X-rated “Winin’ Boy” by Mr. Jelly Roll Morton.

“Sissy Man Blues” records the lamentations of a man so hard up for sex, he’ll take on a sissy man. And you have to be kin to Hard-Hearted Hannah to pass up Bo Carter’s plea in “Please Warm My Weiner.” He sounds so pitiful you just want to throw him a bun-or two.

One of my favorite tracks is “New Rubbin’ On That Darn Old Thing” by Oscar’s Chicago Swingers. It’s not as edgy as the other songs, but it gets you be-boppin’ to the beat. “Get Off With Me” by Coot Grant and Kid Wesley Wilson wins points not only for being evocative, but for Coot’s charming, beguiling voice. She may sound like an innocent girl, but the sailors know better.

Alberta Hunter’s “You Can’t Tell The Difference After Dark” is the one tune I have heard before. This CD has the original 1935 release and Hunter’s torch performance makes me think of Marlene Dietrich. But my first encounter with this song was on “The Glory of Alberta Hunter” album recorded in 1982 a few years before her death when her voice is older and more mature. Lesbian or not, at the time Hunter sounds like a grandmother who knows that there may be snow on the roof but grandpa still keeps the home fires burning. Frankly, I prefer this later version rather than the original on this CD.

Overall there is inconsistency in the CD because of the range of years it covers. You can hear the changes in recording quality and even songwriting ability. “Risqué Rhythms” is a more cohesive compilation because its scope is better defined. But the purpose of this copulatin’ blues CD is aptly presented.
By Bastet.
**
For the last century and more, the only place in a black American’s world safe from the bossman’s grasp has been the bedroom. A sense of this freedom in all its audacious raunch and hilarity fairly leaps from this brilliant anthology of bawdy blues recordings from the late 1920s through the 1930s. There are many raw delights to savor, such as Sidney Bechet’s thrilling clarinet on “Preachin’ Blues”; Tampa Red’s Hokum Jazz Band with horny little Frankie Jaxon vamping his lead vocals on “My Daddy Rocks Me with One Steady Roll”; “Don’t You Make Me High” by Merline Johnson, the Yas-Yas Girl; and “Get Off with Me” by Coot Grant and Kid Wesley Wilson. The most outrageous gem in the trove is “Winin’ Boy” by Jelly Roll Morton, who, in black tie and tails, performed this vulgar masterpiece before unsuspecting governmental dignitaries in the Library of Congress just before World War II.
By Alan Greenberg.
**
The Copulatin’ Blues draws its tunes largely from the New York jazz scene in the 1930s, supposedly to spotlight the “healthy earthiness” in blues. The only problem is that the songs aren’t particularly distinguished, nor very randy, risque, or laden with lascivious double entendres. No hidden gems uncovered, a few duplications with similar compilations, and real authentic scratchy 78 sound (hear the snap, crackle, and pop of needle in grooves?) — why choose this over Columbia’s similar Raunchy Business — Hot Nuts & Lollypops compilation with better songs, and far superior sound?

You do get to hear how distastefully misogynist (and rooted in homophobia) Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy” is. Or how much about self-hatred based on skin color, tone, and appearance the lyrics to “You Can’t Tell The Difference After Dark” sound, as sung by a very affected (almost to the point of parody) Alberta Hunter, amidst sprinkles of piano trinkles from Fats Waller. Musically, a good number of tracks are a Dixieland band with boogie piano romping underneath, with Sidney Bechet faring best using that approach on “Preachin’ Blues” (although that “If your wife get hungry/Give her a mouthful of fist” line is brutally offensive).

Some other tracks have their moments, too, and Lucille Bogan’s famously explicit “Shave ‘Em Dry” is here (but it’s on Raunchy Business, too). Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon and the Harlem Hamfats injects pizzazz on “Wet It,” as does “My Daddy Rocks Me With One Steady Roll” with Tampa Red. Georgia White’s ever-reliable “If I Can’t Sell It” comes through again, but “Don’t You Make Me High” is nowhere close to the original. “Get Off With Me” is one the few old-time guitar and fiddle country blues here.

Bo Carter’s “Please Warm My Weiner” is a nice acoustic performance, but that image doesn’t exactly evoke guffaws, or provoke outrage these days, and that’s not a bad capsule summary of The Copulatin’ Blues itself. The music sounds outdated, cutesy, and/or cornier than anything, and there are certainly other compilations on this theme with better song selection and sound quality. Maybe there was a good reason for this disc to exist back in the LP era, but with the superior options available in the CD era, it’s hard to see one now.
By Don Snowden.
**
01. Preachin’ Blues Bechet 3:00
02. Stavin’ Chain (That Rockin’ Swing #1) Johnson 2:59
03. New Rubbin’ on That Darn OldThing Oscar’s Chicago Swingers 2:37
04. The Candy Man Howard 2:53
05. Take You Hands Off My Mojo Grant, Wilson 2:59
06. Don’t You Make Me High Johnson 2:38
07. Wet It! Jaxon 2:55
08. Press My Button, Ring My Bell Black Bob , Johnson 3:19
09. You Can’t Tell the Difference After Dark Hunter 3:00
10. Get Off With Me Grant, Grant, Wilson 3:09
11. How Do They Do It That Way? Spivey 3:18
12. If I Can’t Sell It, I’ll Keep Sittin’ on It (Before I Give It Away) White 2:54
13. Yas! Yas! Yas! Strange, Strange, Yas-Yas Man 2:55
14. My Daddy Rocks Me With One Steady Roll Jaxon, Tampa Red’s Hokum Jazz Band 3:23
15. Stavin’ Chain (#2) Harlem Hamfats, Temple, Temple 2:23
16. Please Warm My Weiner Carter 2:59
17. You Stole My Cherry Johnson 2:35
18. Sissy Man Blues Connie McLean’s Rhythm Boys 2:51
19. You Can’t Sleep in My Bed Dixon 3:06
20. Winin’ Boy Blues Morton 4:17
21. It’s Tight Like That Smith 3:21
22. Shave ‘Em Dry Bogan, Roland 3:02
**


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