Archive for the Son HOUSE Category

Son HOUSE – Father of The Delta Blues 1965

Posted in BLUES, Son HOUSE on November 24, 2010 by whoisthemonk

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

Blues

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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Son HOUSE – Death Letter 1965

Posted in BLUES, Son HOUSE on November 16, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Son HOUSE – Death Letter 1965
1985 Issue. ED 167

Blues

Hey, I solemnly swear, Lord, I raise my right hand
That I’m goin’ get me a woman, you get you another man
I solemnly swear, Lord, I raise my right hand
That I’m goin’ get me a woman, you get you another man

I got a letter this morning, how do you reckon it read?
“Oh, hurry, hurry, gal, you love is dead”
I got a letter this morning, how do you reckon it read?
“Oh, hurry, hurry, gal, you love is dead”

I grabbed my suitcase, I took off, up the road
I got there, she was laying on the cooling board
I grabbed my suitcase, I took on up the road
I got there, she was laying on the cooling board

Well, I walked up close, I looked down in her face
Good old gal, you got to lay here till Judgment Day
I walked up close, and I looked down in her face
Yes, been a good old gal, got to lay here till Judgment Day

Oh, my woman so black, she stays apart of this town
Can’t nothin’ “go” when the poor girl is around
My black mama stays apart of this town
Oh, can’t nothing “go” when the poor girl is around

Oh, some people tell me the worried blues ain’t bad (note 1)
It’s the worst old feelin’ that I ever had
Some people tell me the worried blues ain’t bad
Buddy, the worst old feelin’, Lord, I ever had

Hmmm, I fold my arms, and I walked away
“That’s all right, mama, your trouble will come someday”
I fold my arms, Lord, I walked away
Say, “That’s all right, mama, your trouble will come someday”
**
John Hammond was the man single handedly responsible for the re-emergence of the delta blues scene of the 1960s. It was Hammond who pressed CBS to release an album of some of Robert Johnson’s songs, and they only did so, in 1961, because it was rumoured that another label had the idea in the pipeline. The release of the King Of The Delta Blues Singers prompted many young turks to pick up the guitar and play the blues or simply to take the inspiration and combine that tone and source it with a rock edge. Clapton, Richards (with help from band mate Brian Jones), Page can all testify to the magic they heard on hearing the posthumously released album. So with the rediscovery of the Delta blues, it seemed inevitable that record company gurus would head South Of The States and unearth more about this little known genre. Son House to many figures is the King of the Delta Blues. Muddy Waters took much influence from House, while House himself claims to have thought Robert Johnson how to play guitar. Of course this is debatable, and there are many who would like to lay claim to some responsibility for the fact that Johnson is now being renown and respected as the finest guitarist of his generation. The cuts on this album were recorded in the mid sixties, more than thirty years after the original Paramount recordings, many of which have not been discovered and are basically lost at this point in time. The recordings on Death Letter are crisp and clear though House does sound like a man well weathered. Though on the face of it this could have been an advantage, but for my money the better recordings are those recorded in 1931 for their recorded limitations all their raw passion. Often cited as The finest blues song, “Death Letter” is without a doubt one of the darkest and convincing blues songs ever laid down. The song is saturated in the typical Delta blues tradition, great words, great licks and slide, but the rest of Death Letter pales in comparison from time to time.

“Preaching The Blues” is a nice slice of blues, again with what now seems like a common blues like theme. Here, Son House dead pan like professes to wanting to be a preacher man so he don’t have to work… While “Pearline” is a melancholic piece with a simple, repetitive but forceful refrain. “Grinnin’ In Your Face” is a clever song with a direct message and along with the title track stands out for this listener. This simple candid like track has Son House singing and clapping along at a percussive beat, no guitar but it is hardly missed, the song contains a true essence of the songwriter and his personality, and a reminder that those who do grin in your face are worth fuck all anyway… Good advice. Apparently Son House had not played guitar in many years before being approached to do a fresh recording, but you’d hardly believe that. His slide is slick and dirty on his national steel bodied guitar, though his voice has worn well, or at least well worn, through the ages. Since many of his records had long since disappeared it was interesting, and definitely important, that he should have been sought out, even actually found. To take a trip through the years to re-record some of his old songs for a new era and audience as some of these songs would have been lost forever. The album is often excellent and often lulls. It drags the listener through the mundane, but the Delta Blues has so much to offer in all its minimalism but without a doubt is acquired listening. Death Letter is a unique album but while the early recordings contain the direct emotion of the music of Son House, his music circa 1965 contains a magic all of its own.
By Johnny DeLuxe.
**
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.”
**
According to legend, it was Son House’s blistering bottleneck guitar that prompted Robert Johnson to pick up a six string. House’s potent early recordings from 1930 and 1941 to 1942 showcased his raw, emotionally powerful style, but never received the acclaim of Johnson’s. When he was rediscovered during the ’60s blues revivalist movement, House’s voice still possessed wall-shaking intensity and his idiosyncratic slide guitar still had bite.
By Marc Greilsamer.
**
The problem is after listening to Son House everything else seems decidedly low-octane. Compared to something like Death Letter Blues, the so-called angst of the latest boy band isn’t really something for a reasonable person to get worked up about.

His lyrics always obey the “show ’em, don’t tell ’em” aesthetic. When he sings “Late in the evening, I went out on the outskirts of town; I choose me a seat, and watch the evening sun go down” you know exactly how he’s feeling.

So Son House is a must. The only question is what to buy first. House recorded three main times: seven sides for Paramount in the 1930’s, nineteen songs for Alan Lomax in the 1940’s, and then this studio session in the 1960’s. I’d say that this two disk version of the Vanguard stuff is essential. (I bought the single disk version and regretted it.) The complete Alan Lomax field recordings are on a disk called “Complete Library of Congress Recordings 1941-1942”. The Paramount stuff is best heard on the Document CD “Complete Recorded Works”. There are some other compilations (Delta Blues, Preachin’ The Blues, etc.) but they don’t give you the complete picture.

I’d say buy this Vanguard stuff first. As you move back in time the performances get more fiery, but the sound quality gets much, much worse. So start here until you get yourself acclimatized.
By Brian.
**
A1. Death Letter
A2. Pearline
A3. Louise McGhee
A4. John The Revelator
A5. Empire State Express
B1. Preachin’ Blues
B2. Grinning In Your Face
B3. Sundown
B4. Levee Camp Moan
**

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