When the Sun
Goes Down Vol. 2
The First Time I Met the Blues
our score: 5.0 out of 5.0
Disc #2 in
the When the Sun Goes Down series purports to collect
the " 'original greatest hits' of the blues," and there
are many songs here that we know better in their many remakes.
If you ever liked the Grateful Dead's version of "Viola Lee
Blues," you'll be shocked at how much more fun the original,
by Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers, is. Anyone who ever heard Led Zeppelin's
"Girl I Love, She Got Long, Black Wavy Hair" needs to
hear Sleepy John Estes' version of it from 1929 to hear power
and passion the way it should be.
But the concept
doesn't really hold up on this second disc; there were more "classic"
recognizable songs on Walk Right In, and the majority
of things here are more like "lost classics" that haven't
gotten enough exposure. Track after track reveals songs you'll
never stop humming, ever. Bo Carter's "Doubled Up in a Knot"
is smutty fun blues that Mick and Keef would have ripped off in
a heartbeat had they ever heard it. I had never before been exposed
to Jelly Roll Morton's "I Hate a Man Like You," presented
here with Lizzie Miles on vocals backed by Morton himself on whorehouse
piano, and it hits hard: "When I met you / I thought you
was right / You married me / And stayed out the first night /
Do you think you treated your wifey right? / Lord, I hate a man
The real stars of this disc are the Memphis Jug
Band, who get two different songs. "Stealin', Stealin' "
is just about the hookiest song ever recorded, with sloppy vocal
and see-saw harmonica by leader Will Shade. (Taj Mahal fanatics
know this one quite well, by the way.) And their stomping take
on "Cocaine Habit Blues" from 1930 (and written many
years before that by Jennie Mae Clayton) almost makes you sad
that the protagonist can't buy coke at the corner drugstore anymore.
These lost classics are just as solid and great
as the ones that we recognize, but those ones kick much ass too.
It's funny to hear Frank Stokes take on "Tain't Nobody's
Business If I Do" decades before Lady Day or Sam Cooke or
Hank Williams, Jr. ever tried it on for size, and it's absolutely
hilarious to hear Louis and Lil Armstrong backing up Jimmie Rodgers
on "Blue Yodel #9"—the tasteful liner notes mention
that Rodgers "was from the 'I change chords when I feel like
changing' school," but the Armstrongs are right there with
him the whole time. And I've heard about Blind Willie McTell and
Furry Lewis from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, but here they are
for real, and they're so tough and timeless that I'm sorry I'd
never done my research and heard them for real before. But this
set's gone and done it for me.
I would have
called this a 4.8 out of 5.0 because the disc doesn't really stick
to its "concept," but that would be like complaining
because the ocean isn't always blue, or because Alex Wek has short
hair. No, this is a fiver if there ever was one. Dig it.
18-Sep-2002 7:35 PM
liked The First Time I Met the Blues...
1. Telephoning the
Blues - Victoria Spivey
2. Viola Lee Blues - Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers
3. Haven't Got a Dollar to Pay Your House Rent
Man - Genevieve Davis
4. Saturday Blues - Ishman Bracey
5. When I Woke Up This Morning She Was Gone
- Jim Jackson
6. Canned Heat Blues - Tommy Johnson
7. Statesboro Blues - Blind Willie McTell
8. Stealin' Stealin' - Memphis Jug Band
9. Judge Harsh Blues - Furry Lewis
10. Rent Man Blues - Edna Winston
11. I Don't Care What You Say - Harris &
12. I Hate A Man Like You - Lizzie Miles
13. 'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do - Pt.
1 - Frank Stokes
14. I'm a Mighty Tight Woman - Sippie Wallace
15. Blue Yodel #9 - Jimmie Rodgers
16. The Girl I Love She Got Long Curly Hair
- Sleepy John Estes
17. Don't Want No Woman - McCoy & Johnson
18. Cocaine Habit Blues - Memphis Jug Band
19. Married Woman Blue - Blind Willie Reynolds
20. Red Nightgown Blues - Jimmie Davis
21. Hardworking Woman - Mississippi Matilda
22. Doubled Up in a Knot - Bo Carter
23. If You Want Me Baby - Daddy Stovepipe &
24. The First Time I Met the Blues - Little
25. Sales Tax - The Mississippi Sheiks