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mercredi 16 janvier 2019

L.C. WILLIAMS/ Complete Recordings


L.C. WILLIAMS/Complete Recordings

           L.C. (apparemment son vrai et seul prénom) Williams a été un de ces chanteurs et musiciens qui gravitaient autour de Lightnin' Hopkins à Houston et sur lequel le bluesman régnait un peu à la façon des maîtres féodaux. Ces "vassaux" obtiennent le droit de jouer avec lui, de l'accompagner sur les scènes locales, de gagner quelques dollars en échange d'une véritable allégeance à leur "maître", une sorte de servitude digne de certains gangs mafieux. C'est ainsi que Luke "Long Gone" Miles qui effectuera aussi de très bons enregistrements est chargé d'ouvrir à Lightnin' un passage vers les toilettes du bar à travers la nombreuse clientèle, le très original harmoniciste Billy Bizor sert de valet à Hopkins, s'occupe du pressing de ses vêtements...
           L.C. Williams qui émarge de la même manière à ce cercle de serviteurs du bluesman de Houston effectuera, en partie grâce à Lightnin', une carrière discographique assez conséquente.
           Né à Crockett au Texas le 12 mars 1930, L.C. a gagné Houston vers 1945, chantant et 
L.C. Williams. photo: Chris Strachwitz
dansant les claquettes un peu partout dans la région. C'est dans un de ces dancings qu'il rencontre Lightnin' Hopkins qui le prend avec lui et lui permet d'enregistrer sous le nom de Lightnin' Jr trois blues très profonds et immanquablement texans pour le producteur Bill Quinn avec Hopkins au piano et à la guitare. Ces morceaux rencontrent un certain succès et Williams retrouve le chemin des studios de façon conséquente les années suivantes. Comme son mentor, Williams saute allégrement de label en label, tente un peu (et avec bonheur) tous les styles alors en vogue dans le blues texan: downhome avec ou à la Hopkins, urbain et très swinguants avec différents orchestres de R&B texans comme ceux du saxophoniste Conrad Johnson ou du pianiste Lonnie Lyons. Parmi ses accompagnateurs, on trouve généralement la crème des bluesmen de Houston dont le guitariste Goree Carter.
           En 1951, après une très belle séance avec Lightnin', L.C. Williams part tenter sa chance en Californie. C'est un échec complet. Il finit en prison pour quelques mois et revient à Houston, vivotant autour du clan Hopkins. C'est là qu'il sera "retrouvé" et interviewé par Mack Mc Cormick et Chris Strachwitz. Très peu loquace, L.C., pressé de dire à quoi correspondait ses initiales, répond "Love Crazy"!
           Il semble qu'il devait enregistrer un album pour Arhoolie qui aurait certainement pu lui ouvrir les portes du Blues Revival qui commençait alors à prendre son essor quand il décède le 18 octobre 1960 à Houston.
           Il laisse une œuvre finalement assez variée, alternant de grands moments du Country blues texan avec des séances plus entraînantes mais certainement aussi plus convenues où il est accompagné d'excellents orchestres de Rhythm & Blues. Grâce à plusieurs généreux collectionneurs (et en particulier notre ami Pierre Monnery), nous sommes désormais en mesure de proposer l'intégrale de l'œuvre de L.C. Williams, certainement non négligeable.
                                                                 Gérard HERZHAFT

           L. C. (apparently his real first name!) Williams was one of those blues singer/ musicians who were trying to make a living or a career on Lightnin' Hopkins's orbit. Lightnin' used them every time he needed them and ruled this coterie like a feudal Lord, every one having a special role serving the "master". Among those numerous vassals, L. C. Williams was certainly the one who succeeded the most to make a name for himself.
           Born at Crockett, Texas, on March, 12th 1930, L.C. went to Houston around 1945 and soon tried to make a living singing and tap dancing on the streets. His growing reputation earned him to play in night clubs where Hopkins, appreciating his talents, brought him to the famous record producer Bill Quinn who had hired Hopkins as a semi-talent scout. L.C. recorded several very downhome blues backed by Lightnin', either playing the guitar or the piano. Moreover, the records were issued under the name Lightnin' Jr that assured them good sales. During a couple of years, Williams visited quite often the Houston studios, recording his brand of Texas blues in different settings, from the deep Country blues of his beginnings to the current fashionable swinging R&B, backed by the cream of the Houston session men, from pianists Lonnie Lyons and Elmore Nixon to saxophonists like Conrad Johnson through stellar guitarist Goree Carter.

           In 1951, after another wonderful deep session with Hopkins, L.C. - persuaded he could thus make much more money with his music under the Hollywood sun - went to Los Angeles to try his luck. This was unfortunately a complete failure, L.C. even going in jail for awhile. He finally went back to Houston, struggling for a living on several menial jobs, staying close to Hopkins in a desperate hope to record again, that never materialized. He was around Lightnin' when researchers Mack Mc Cormick and Chris Strachwitz met him and interviewed him. Not very talkative about himself, L.C. only said that his initials meant "Love Crazy"!
           It seems there were some plans to record L.C. for the Arhoolie label that certainly would have opened him some doors but he died brutally in Houston on October, 18th, 1960.
           Thanks to several generous friends and collectors and particularly Pierre Monnery, we are now able and for the first time to give the really complete recordings made by this excellent Texas bluesman.
                                                      Gérard HERZHAFT


L.C. WILLIAMS/ Complete Recordings
L.C. Williams, vcl; Lightnin’ Hopkins, pno. Houston, Tx. juillet 1947
01. Trying trying
L.C. Williams, vcl; Lightnin’ Hopkins, g. Houston, Tx. juillet 1947
02. You’ll never miss the water
03. I wonder
L.C. Williams, vcl; Lightnin’ Hopkins, g. Houston, Tx. janvier 1948
04. Hole in the wall
05. Boogie all the time
06. Strike blues
07. You can take it with you baby
L.C. Williams, vcl; Leroy Carter, pno. Houston, Tx. juin 1948
08. Black woman
L.C. Williams, vcl; Elmore Nixon, pno. Houston, Tx. juin 1948
09. I won’t be here long
L.C. Williams, vcl; Nelson Mills, tpt; Conrad Johnson, a-sax; Sam Williams, t-sax; Lonnie Lyons, pno; Louis Pitts, bs; Allison Tucker, dms. Houston, Tx. décembre 1948
10. I don't want your baby
11. Why don't you come back
L.C. Williams, vcl; Lonnie Lyons, pno; Goree Carter, g; Sam Williams, t-sax; Conrad Johnson, a-sax; Louis Pitts, bs; Allison Tucker, dms. Houston, Tx. février 1949
12. That's alright
13. Rich women blues
14. I want my baby back
15. I know that chick
16. Shout baby shout
17. Jelly roll
18. Louisiana boogie
19. Ethel Mae
20. Gonna change my love
21. My darkest hours
L.C. Williams, vcl; Lightnin’ Hopkins, g; Elmore Nixon, pno. Houston, Tx. décembre 1949
22. All through my dreams
23. Mean and evil blues
L.C. Williams, vcl; Lightnin’ Hopkins, g. Houston, Tx. janvier 1951
24. The Lazy J
25. Baby child
26. Fannie Mae
27. So sorry
L.C. Williams, vcl; Willie Johnson, pno; Frank Minn, tpt; Ed Wiley, t-sax; Henry Hayes, a-sax; Goree Carter, g; Don Cooks, bs; Ben Turner, dms. Houston, Tx. 29 novembre 1951
28. I don’t want no woman
29. Louise
30. I don’t like to travel
I posted an article about L.C. Williams some years ago on this blog but this one is the definitive one with english text added

lundi 14 janvier 2019

SMOKY BABE/ Complete Recordings



SMOKY BABE/ Complete Recordings

           


Born Robert Brown on July, 31st 1927 in Itta Bena (Ms), Smoky Babe has been one of the very best discovery from the Blues Revival era. A sharecropper helping his family at an early age and during years around Itta Bena, Smoky Babe has taken the guitar and the blues under the strong influence of Robert Petway and Tommy McClennan, seeing them performing and listening to their records. He developed the same rhythmic guitar style, full of a furious energy, the similar passionate singing and, if one adds a great ability to compose autobiographic blues and to make every standard his own, you sure have with him a major bluesman!
            During the late 1940's and maybe at his mother's death, Smoky Babe leaves the miserable sharecropping to work in a factory in Alabama, then in New Orleans where he works as a longshoreman while playing sometimes in local clubs. Around 1953, he marries and the couple settles in Baton Rouge, buying a little farm and finding a good job as a car mechanic in a garage. He anyway plays here and there, mostly at friends' parties. It's like that and only by chance that Harry Oster discovers him in February 1960 during a party at Robert Pete Williams' house (his neighbor) where there are other Robert Pete's neighbors, Lazy Lester, Clyde Causey or William and Sally Dotson! Oster is stunned by Smoky's talents and then records him substantially during the following days. Those wonderful records when issued on several albums and anthologies stir interest in the then small coterie of blues buffs in the USA and Europe. But Smoky, quite suspicious, would turn down any offer to appear at colleges or festivals during the early 1960's, liking better to catch his steady work at his garage and his farm than trying his chance on a musical career.
            He is reported to have died in Scottlandville around May 1973.
            We have gathered here all his known recordings in chronological order. That still leaves at least 20 unissued tracks that are probably by now at the Smithsonian and that we certainly would be eager to be able to listen to!
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT


SMOKY BABE
Complete Recordings
 = unissued
Smoky Babe (Robert Brown), vcl/g. Scotlandville, La, 6 february 1960
01. Shake, shake Mattie
Biscuit bakin’ mama
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Scotlandville, La, 10 february 1960
02. Long way from home
03. I’m goin’ back to Mississippi
04. I'm goin' away
Baby don’t you want to go?
Smoky Babe, vcl/g; Sally Dotson, vcl. Scotlandville, La. 25 february 1960
Dell on the mountain
05. Rabbit blues n°1
06. Rabbit blues n°2
07. Ghost blues
Smoky Babe, vcl/g; William Dotson, vcls. Scotlandville, 25 february 1960
08. Two wings
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Scotlandville, La, 27 february 1960
09. Bad luck and trouble
10. Now your man done gone
11. I’m broke and I’m hungry
12. Bad whiskey
13. Going back home
14. Goin' home blues
15. Melvanie blues
16. Ocean blues
17. Boogie woogie rag
Low down woman
Smoky Babe, vcl/g; Lazy Lester, hca. Scotlandville, La. 27 february 1960
18. Mississippi River
19. Too many women n°1
20. Too many women n°2
21. My baby she told me
22. My baby put me down
Smoky Babe, vcl/g; Clyde Causey, hca. Scotlandville, La. 27 february 1960
23. Ain’t got no rabbit dog
24. Black gal
25. Locomotive blues
Smoky Babe, g. Scotlandville, La. 6 march 1960
26. Boogy
27. Boogie gal
28. If I had listened what my mama say
29. I'm goin' home on the morning train
Smoky Babe, vcl/g; Sally Dotson, vcls; Hilary Blunt, g. Scotlandville, La. 14 april 1960
30. Your dice won’t pass
31. Black ghost
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Scotlandville, La. 3 november 1960
32. Talkin' baby
33. Backyard boogie
Leavin’ blues
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Scotlandville, La. 6 january 1961
No special rider
Mean mistreatin’ woman
Smoky Babe, vcl/g; Sally Dotson, vcls on *; Lazy Lester, hca. Scotlandville, La. 10 february 1961
34. Chicago bound
35. Somethin’ wrong with my machine*
Down by the waterfall
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Scotlandville, La. 10 march 1961
Hard times blues
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Scotlandville, La. 27 march 1961
36. Insect blues
37. Boss man blues
38. Way back in the country blues
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Scotlandville, La. 1 april 1961
39. I went down 61 Highway
40. Hottest brand goin’
41. Regular blues
42. Arkansas blues
43. What's wrong with you
44. Working on Mr Walter's farm
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Scotlandville, La. 14 june 1961
45. Cold, cold snow
46. Diggin' my potatoes
47. I'm wild about you black gal
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Vance, Ms, 10 august 1961
Cotton field blues
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Vance, Ms, 11 august 1961
48. Terraplane blues
Friends, goodbye
Car trouble blues
Back home again
Smoky Babe, vcl/g. Annie Brown, vcls on *; Clyde Causey, hca; Hilary Blunt, g. Vance, Ms. 12 august 1961
Won’t be back til fall
Bad bad whiskey
Shoot him along
Ain’t it hard to be a nigger*
Ship-y-show
Segregation blues
Mr. Bug & Mr. Bug


mardi 8 janvier 2019

KING SOLOMON/ Complete Recordings



KING SOLOMON/ Complete Recordings


              
Several bluesmen have used the "King Solomon" moniker, mainly ace pre-war guitarist King Solomon Hill, the pianist and sometimes singer Ellis Walters Jr (1919-63) who recorded under the name King Solomon or Soloman (sic) as well as a session man behind many West Coast bluesmen as Solomon Ellis. Soul star Solomon Burke also recorded as King Solomon as well as jazz tenor saxophonist Clifford Solomon! And there is now a young good bluesman playing and recording under the name King Solomon Hicks!
               But the only "real" King Solomon (his real name) is this blues singer that we are featuring here. Born King Sylvester Lee Melicious Solomon on 12th October 1934 (or 1940? but this year sometimes given seems to be improbable even impossible) at Tallulah, La, he began to sing in his mother's church before creating his own Gospel a-capella quartet.
               When King Solomon comes to Chicago in 1949 to work as a busboy in a restaurant, he listens more and more the blues in the Windy City's clubs, befriending with Sunnyland Slim. Soon one finds him singing the blues at Theresa's or at Du Sable Lounge. But, tired of the hard Chicago's winters, Solomon settles in Los Angeles in 1954, meeting Charles Brown, Lowell Fulson and Maxwell Davis who encourages him to form his own band. During the late 50's, King Solomon and his Soul Brothers Band play regularly in the L.A. area, Charles Wright holding the lead guitar. In 1961, his first autobiographic record Non Support blues Parts I & II hits the West Coast before being taken over by the Checker label, and then climbing to n°39 on Billboard.
               Solomon then tours the Western States for awhile with big stars like B.B. King, Little Milton, Etta James and even opens for Sammy Davis Jr during a couple of weeks in Davis' cabaret in Las Vegas.
               King Solomon records regularly during the 1960's for a large variety of labels, some important like Kent but generally for small independent ones like Don-J, Magnum or his own Mader-D. With a somewhat poor distribution, those records sell quite confidentially with the exception of the small local hit You are nothing but a teenager.
              
During the 1970's, Solomon seeks commercial success in turning his music towards the Rock/ Psychedelic audience, his guitarist Joe Kincaid playing constantly the wah-wah guitar and with heavy bass and drums. This is the music featured on the only album recorded as such by Solomon Energy Crisis, probably during the mid-70's (1977 is the date generally admitted).
               Outside a small article on Blues Unlimited, King Solomon was mainly unknown outside his L.A. area until the excellent Dutch Diving Duck label issued a compilation of some of his best tracks during the mid-80's!

               Today, one doesn't know if King Solomon is still living or if so where he lives. Anyway, his recorded work is much worthy. We have tried to gather the complete recordings by this King Solomon but there still are 5 numbers that have been impossible to find. Thanks by advance to anyone who would have them and would be willing to share!
               Thanks to Diving Duck label, Mr Mightygroove and the excellent Groovy Gumbo blog for their help.
                                                                                       
Gérard HERZHAFT


King Solomon, vcl; Charles Wright, g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1961
01. Non support blues I & II
King Solomon, vcl; Charles Wright, g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1962
02. I got to move
03. Uncle John's swinging farm
King Solomon, vcl; Charles Wright, g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1963
04. Louisiana groove
05. I'm in love with you
06. My dream
I'm in your corner baby
King Solomon, vcl; Charles Wright, g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1964
07. Separation n°1
08. I want to know
09. Yodeling this morning
10. Scratch my back
King Solomon, vcl; Charles Wright, g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1965
11. Big things
12. You ain't nothing but a teenager
King Solomon, vcl; Charles Wright, g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1966
13. Mr bad luck
14. S.K. blues
15. New figure
16. Let me be your eagle baby I & II
17. Almost midnight
18. Please Mr President
King Solomon, vcl; Charles Wright, g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1967
19. Separation n°2
20. Little dab will do it
21. Where is my shoe
22. What you got
Skidrow
Brainwashed woman
When a man loves a woman
I don't play that way
King Solomon, vcl; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1968
23. Just a little faith
24. Sittin' here thinkin'
King Solomon, vcl; Joe Kincaid, g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1969
25. The natural look
26. No woman's no stranger
27. The miracle worker
28. The Moon Walk
29. Love bug
30. Something's wrong with me
King Solomon, vcl; Joe Kincaid, g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. c. 1977
31. I got a sweet tooth for your love
32. If I were a strong man
33. Energy crisis
34. Political rag
35. Ain´t it funky ya´ll I & II
36. Sexy baby
37. Get up soul brother
38. Don´t play this song
39. A little dab will do ya