Thursday, March 17, 2011

Allen's Jukebox: The Country Blues

[The “photo-booth self-portrait” of Robert Johnson from the early 1930s, one of only two known photos of Johnson made public. from the Granger Collection, New York.]

Since we spotlighted "Allen's Jukebox" last week, we thought we'd re-post Allen's Country Blues mixtape that we first posted in 2009, but this time with a few more links to the tracks and some minor corrections.

Back in the late '80s, Allen made a handful of blues collections for a Brooklyn College course he was teaching. They were pretty much collections of his favorite blues songs from over the years, and, usually, were his favorites because of the lyrics, which he only seemed to cherish more and more as the years went by.

This one's from January 1989. Yes, that xerox-of-a-xerox can't really be scanned any better, I'm afraid, so here's the transcript of the track listing below. Will try to transfer the cassette and have it available for download before too long. In the meantime, we'll try to fill in the list with links to You Tube and other audio links available as we find them.

We've had to re-edit, for clarity, Allen's confusing listing for "Eddie One String Blues", which is the record's title, and not the track title. It's actually "The Dozens," which he more accurately lists afterwards as "Dozen's Portent" (sic). Brilliant track - in fact, the whole album is a rare gem, well worth tracking down.

Blues Anthology – Blind Lemon Jefferson, Elizabeth Cotton, Ma Rainey, Robert Johnson, et al 1926-1928

Side A
Ma Rainey
1) Jealous Hearted Blues. Oct 1924. Howard Scott- Cornet, Don Redman-Clarinet, Fletcher Henderson - Piano, Charles Dixon- Banjo.
2) See See Rider. Louis Armstrong – trumpet, Buster Bailey-Clarinet, Fletcher Henderson – Piano, Charles Dixon – Banjo

Bessie Smith
3) Young Woman’s Blues 1926
4) Send me to the Electric Chair
5) Gimme A Pigfoot (this may be an alternate version from from the one Allen listed)
6) Yellow Dog Blues
Charlie Green – Trombone, Buster Bailey – Clarinet, Coleman Hawkins—Tenor sax, Fletcher Henderson Piano, Charlie Dixon – Banjo, Kaiser Marshall – drums. Bessie Smith Story Vol II CL856

Texas Alexander
7) Levee Camp Moan Blues. August 12, 1927. Charters Country Blues Vol I

Blind Lemon Jefferson
8) That Black Snake Moan. Milestone MPL 2013 October 1926.

Charlie Patton
9) Tom Rushen Blues. June 1929 Yazoo L 1026
10) Shake It Break It. June 1929
11) Poor Me. February 1, 1934

Blind Blake
12) That’ll Never Happen No More. May 1927. Unknown Rattlebones (instrument) . Biograph BLF-12003

Mississippi John Hurt
13) Blue Harvest Blues. NY, Dec 28, 1928. Biograph BLF-C4

Richard Rabbit Brown
14) James Alley Blues . March 11, 1927. London: Matchbox Blues Master Series MB5201 New Orleans.

Peg Leg Howell
15) Rolling Mill Blues. 1929 Georgia Blues Yazoo L-10121

Lonnie Coleman
16) Rock Island Blues 1929 Atlanta Blues Sam Charters RBF 15

Eddie One String Jones
Dozen’s Portent One String Blues. (Zither Monochord LA Skid Row(1940, 1950? prod. Sam Charters)

Robert Johnson
18) Crossroads Blues. R.J. King of the Delta Blues CL 1654. November 1934
19) Walking Blues. Nov 27, 1936. R.J. King of the Delta Blues CL 1654. November 1934
20) Stones In My Passway (as above)
21) Hellhound On My Trail. June 20, 1937. (as above)
22) Love In Vain 1937 King of the Delta Blues II

Bo Carter
23) Baby Who’s Been Here. 1938 Bo Carter’s Greatest Hits. Yazoo. L1014

24) Irene. 1940s Deja Vue DOLP Italy
25) Black Girl [aka In the Pines/Where Did You Sleep Last Night] (as above)

Skip James
26) Washington DC Hospital Blues 1964
27) Drunken Spree. 1964 Vanguard USO 79219
28) Devil Got My Woman 1931 Biograph BLP 12029 “Skip James King of Delta Blues”

Bill Williams
29) Make Me Down A Pallet on the Floor. 1970 Blue Goose 2013
30) Nobody’s Business (as above)

Elizabeth Cotten
31) Freight Train Blues 1957 Folkways FA3537
32) When I’m Gone 1979

(An asterisk on the xerox indicates lyrics were available at the time, something that nowadays one could find on the internet with little effort )


  1. I remember, especially, Allen's focus on the importance of Ma Rainey, Dylan's wide eyed embrace of the form, the necessity of wit and humor to "teach" through the sad (the Blues as "instruction"), and the gift of Harry Smith's anthology (finding these folk traditions strained through other nearly forgotten cultures). . . to The Rolling Stones (I think Allen attended a Madison Square Garden concert in the late 80s with John Kennedy Jr., among others [that's the post-concert hub-bub I remember, at least]) and the lasting revelation of "call and response" generally. --Peter Money, student of AG at Brooklyn College, 1987 - 1990.

  2. Yes Peter and check out
    &, come to that,