Includes fully illustrated booklet.
Clarksdale, Mississippi: birthplace of Ike Turner, Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker and Son House and home to five taverns visited by Library of Congress researcher Lewis Wade Jones in 1941. In each of these taverns, the Chicken Shack, the Dipsie Doodle, Lucky’s, the Messenger’s Cafe, and the New Africa, a jukebox. In each jukebox, a choice of records, painstakingly listed by Jones, who figured it was worth it. And now, sitting down in the comfort of your own home, you can pull yourself a beer and listen to the sounds that a 29 year-old Muddy Waters from nearby Stovall might have heard on a night out in Clarksdale on 9th September, 1941. Thanks, Lewis!
Overall across the four discs (77 +, 76 +, 74 +, 75 + minutes each) the sound is good/bordering on very good–especially for so many recordings from several labels–recorded from 1938-1941. While the sound has been cleaned up it still has that period warmth and feel which adds to the authenticity. There’s occasional surface noise but nothing that gets in the way of enjoying the music. The 18 page booklet has details for each single–title, composer, artist, label, recording date–plus an essay reprinted from 1971 that includes pertinent information about the music/era, and a few photos of performers and other pertinent ephemera. This set is worth five “stars” not only because of the music/artists found that day, but also for the Rhythm and Blues label having the foresight and the chestnuts to release something as important as this. Blues fans looking for authentic music, the kind that patrons of those five clubs listened to using their hard earned nickels in juke boxes, as they drank with friends will find many surprises found on those juke boxes. This collection is from a two year field study of culture in the Mississippi Delta region during the summers of ’41 and ’42 in conjunction with the Archive of American Folk Song–Library of Congress & Fisk University. If you’re a deep blues fan read “Lost Delta Found” and there you’ll see one section that lists “Records on Machines in Clarksdale Amusement Places”, that lists all the songs.
Obviously this collection is the real-deal authentic music heard in that region (and no doubt other areas) in the 1940’s. There’s no guess work, no random inclusion of songs/performers that fit comfortably in the “juke joint” mould of what people may envision as from that era. Because of the authenticity of the cultural study and Jones’ work, this is one of the most important (and eye-opening) collections of music in the blues genre. Plus it makes for darn good listening. Blues fans/blues scholars will have a field day with this fine set–it upsets what many of us thought “juke joint music” was. But the juke box changed all that. It’s the music that working people heard after a day of hard work while drinking and relaxing with their friends. On all accounts this collection has to be one of the most authentic, important releases in the blues genre for 2016. Many tracks aren’t what people may think of as juke joint music, but the juke box ushered in a new era of music in taverns and local joints all across the South. But more than that–it’s just great music.
Stuart Jefferson Amazon
BONUS CD available free if you order the set from us direct (tracklisting below)