Son HOUSE – Father of The Delta Blues 1965

Son HOUSE – Father of The Delta Blues 1965
1992 Issue. C2K 48867


In 1965, Son House recorded the 21 tracks featured on FATHER OF THE DELTA BLUES for Columbia Records. Whereas the nine songs on disc one were released that year as THE LEGENDARY SON HOUSE, the 12 alternate takes and previously unissued songs on disc two, including an elegy called “President Kennedy,” remained unheard until this 1992 release.

Contains 9 tracks previously released on Columbia as THE LEGENDARY SON HOUSE: FATHER OF FOLK BLUES and 12 previously unreleased and/or alternate takes from the same session. The set also includes liner notes in which Son House relates a story about Robert Johnson.

By the time his name was spreading through the collegiate blues circles of the early ’60s, Eddie James “Son” House, Jr. had been retired for nearly 20 years. Son House was already legendary for a small collection of live field recordings made by folklorist Alan Lomax in 1941 and 1942-and for having taught some important licks to both Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. Tracked down by his new fans in 1964, Son House regained his chops and went out on the college blues circuit for several years, showing worshipful youngsters just why he deserved the title “Father of the Delta Blues.”
After being rediscovered by the folk-blues community in the early ’60s, Son House rose to the occasion and recorded this magnificent set of performances. Allowed to stretch out past the shorter running time of the original 78s, House turns in wonderful, steaming performances of some of his best-known material. On some tracks, House is supplemented by folk-blues researcher/musician Alan Wilson, who would later become a member of the blues-rock group Canned Heat and here plays some nice second guitar and harmonica on several cuts.
The middle of three brothers, House was born in Riverton, two miles from Clarksdale, Mississippi. Around age seven or eight, he was brought by his mother to Tallulah, Louisiana, after his parents separated. The young Son House was determined to become a Baptist preacher, and at age 15 began his preaching career. Despite the church’s firm stand against blues music and the sinful world which revolved around it, House became attracted to it and taught himself guitar in his mid 20s, after moving back to the Clarksdale area, inspired by the work of Willie Wilson. He began playing alongside Charley Patton, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson and Fiddlin’ Joe Martin around Robinsonville, Mississippi, and north to Memphis, Tennessee, until 1942.

After killing a man, allegedly in self-defense, he spent time at the Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman Farm) in 1928 and 1929. The official story on the killing is that sometime around 1927 or 1928, he was playing in a juke joint when a man went on a shooting spree. Son was wounded in the leg, and shot the man dead. He received a 15-year sentence at Parchman Farm prison.

Son House recorded for Paramount Records in 1930 and for Alan Lomax from the Library of Congress in 1941 and 1942. He then faded from public view until the country blues revival in the 1960s when, after a long search of the Mississippi Delta region by Nick Perls, Dick Waterman and Phil Spiro, he was “re-discovered” in June 1964 in Rochester, New York, where he had lived since 1943. House had been retired from the music business for many years, working for the New York Central Railroad, and was completely unaware of the international revival of enthusiasm for his early recordings.

He subsequently toured extensively in the US and Europe and recorded for CBS records. Like Mississippi John Hurt, he was welcomed into the music scene of the 1960s and played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, the New York Folk Festival in July 1965, and the October 1967 European tour of the American Folk Festival along with Skip James and Bukka White.

Son House can be seen in the documentary The Howling Wolf Story. House and Howlin’ Wolf had been close early in Wolf’s career. However, in the documentary, when Wolf was performing during the 1966 Newport Festival, House was drunk and making a lot of noise during Wolf’s set. This angered Wolf who started telling House, from the stage, that all he cared about was whiskey and that he had had a chance to do something with his life but threw it away, to paraphrase Wolf.

The young guitarist Alan Wilson (Canned Heat) was one of Son House’s biggest fans. The producer John Hammond Sr. asked Alan Wilson, who was just 22 years old, to teach “Son House how to play like Son House,” because Alan Wilson had such a good knowledge of the blues styles. The album The Father of Delta Blues – The Complete 1965 Sessions was the result. Son House played with Alan Wilson live. It can be heard on the album John – the Revelator: The 1970 London Sessions.
Tracks 2-1 to 2-5 are previously unreleased alternate takes. Tracks 2-6 to 2-12 are previously unissued tracks.
Cd 1:

01. Death Letter Blues 4:21
02. Pearline 4:34
03. Louise McGhee 6:14
04. John The Revelator 2:31
05. Empire State Express 3:41
06. Preachin’ Blues 5:45
07. Grinnin’ In Your Face 2:08
08. Sundown 6:14
09. Levee Camp Moan 9:30

Cd 2:

01. Death Letter Blues 5:53
02. Levee Camp Moan (Alternate Take) 4:52
03. Grinnin’ In Your Face (Alternate Version) 3:14
04. John The Revelator (Alternate Take) 2:17
05. Preachin’ Blues (Alternate Take) 5:30
06. President Kennedy 3:44
07. A Down The Staff 3:44
08. Motherless Children 4:28
09. Yonder Comes My Mother 3:41
10. Shake It And Break It 2:44
11. Pony Blues 5:24
12. Downhearted Blues 7:10

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