The Later Years 1939-1947

The Later Years 1939-1947

by Sonny Boy Williamson ISonny Boy Williamson I


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This four-CD set is the perfect companion and complement to JSP's The Original Sonny Boy Williamson, Vol. 1, covering the blues harp legend's final eight years. John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson (aka Sonny Boy Williamson I) has, until fairly recently, been the odd man out in the story of Chicago blues stars, at least in terms of how history and posterity treated him. Having died in 1948, long before the significance of the blues or his work was recognized, he receded within the shadow cast by the older yet longer-lived name appropriator Sonny Boy Williamson II (aka Aleck Ford Miller), who got to record for Chess Records into the 1960s, and made it all the way to sessions with the likes of Eric Clapton and even a sadly never fulfilled intersection with the Band. The situation got even more frustrating for scholars when The New York Times, no less (known in the journalism trade as the newspaper of record), in a 1990s article about blues musicians being acknowledged with proper grave markers, obliterated any mention of the existence of John Lee Williamson in the course of telling of Miller/Williamson II's neglect. RCA's efforts at assembling John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson's music ended after two volumes and never got near the 1940s end of his output, and the only other effort to collect his work, by Document Records, was only available piecemeal, as hard to find imports. This set makes up for all of that, covering the man's output from beyond the point of his most well-known record and song, "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl." Williamson had a decade of life beyond that point, and the 104 sides here -- assembling his own credited singles as well as his recordings backing such legends as Yank Rachell and Big Joe Williams -- are well worth hearing. The man's music grew in sophistication and complexity across the 1940s as his lyrical and musical facility advanced. Thus, what starts out as fairly rudimentary Chicago blues, as an outgrowth of Delta blues, soon begins to anticipate and intersect with what became the early Aristocrat and Chess Records sounds of Muddy Waters and Little Walter. You get to hear Williamson turn from typical blues subjects (i.e., women) to topical material about the Second World War, and also start to play off of harder guitar sounds as the '40s go on, and the recordings themselves evolve past the antique feel of those better-known early sides. The tendency, because he died so long ago -- 60-plus years at the time of this release -- is to hear his music as something out of another age, but by the fourth disc in this set you hear Williamson catching some of the same energy and vibe that Leonard Chess latched onto at just about the same time when he heard Walter and Muddy. And in terms of the names associated here, also along for the ride (and, at times, driving) are Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red, the ubiquitous Willie Dixon, and Big Maceo, Eddie Boyd, and Washboard Sam. (Indeed, on the basis of the sidemen alone, this set should be considered essential listening.) The sound quality ranges from very good to excellent, and the annotation by Neil Slaven is detailed and thorough, as is the accompanying discography.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/27/2009
Label: Jsp Records
UPC: 0788065710125
catalogNumber: 77101
Rank: 9262


Disc 1

  1. Honey Bee Blues
  2. I Been Dealing with the Devil
  3. War Time Blues
  4. Train Fare Blues
  5. Decoration Day Blues, No. 2
  6. New Early in the Morning
  7. Welfare Store Blues
  8. My Little Machine
  9. Jivin' the Blues
  10. Hobo Blues
  11. It Seem Like a Dream
  12. Army Man Blues
  13. 38 Pistol Blues
  14. Worried Blues
  15. Biscuit Baking Woman
  16. Insurance Man Blues
  17. Up North Blues (There's a Reason)
  18. Western Union Man
  19. Big Apple Blues
  20. Springtime Blues
  21. My Baby Made a Change
  22. Shotgun Blues
  23. Coal and Iceman Blues
  24. Drink on, Little Girl
  25. Mattie Mae Blues
  26. I'm Gonna Catch You Soon

Disc 2

  1. Million Years Blues
  2. Shady Grove Blues
  3. Sloppy Drunk Blues
  4. She Was a Dreamer
  5. You Got to Step Back
  6. Ground Hog Blues
  7. Black Panther Blues
  8. Broken Heart Blues
  9. She Don't Love Me That Way
  10. My Black Name Blues
  11. I Have Got to Go
  12. Yellow Yam Blues
  13. Tappin' That Thing
  14. Rainy Day Blues
  15. Peach Tree Blues
  16. She Loves Who She Please
  17. Bye Bye Blues
  18. Loudella Blues
  19. Katy Lee Blues
  20. Throw a Boogie Woogie
  21. North Wind Blues
  22. Please Don't Go
  23. Highway 49
  24. Someday Baby
  25. Break 'Em on Down
  26. Love Me, Baby

Disc 3

  1. What's Gettin' Wrong with You
  2. Blues That Made Me Drunk
  3. Come on Baby and Take a Walk
  4. Miss Stella Brown Blues
  5. Desperado Woman Blues
  6. Win the War Blues
  7. Check Up on My Baby Blues
  8. G.M. & O. Blues
  9. We Got to Win
  10. Sonny Boy's Jump
  11. Elevator Woman
  12. Drop Down Blues
  13. Somebody's Been Worryin'
  14. Wanita
  15. Vitamin a
  16. Early in the Morning
  17. The Big Boat
  18. Stop Breaking Down
  19. You're an Old Lady
  20. Sonny Boy's Cold Chills
  21. Mean Old Highway
  22. Hoodoo Hoodoo
  23. Shake the Boogie
  24. Mellow Chick Swing
  25. Polly Put Your Kettle On
  26. Lacey Belle

Disc 4

  1. Apple Tree Swing
  2. Baby Please Don't Go
  3. Stack of Dollars
  4. Mellow Apples
  5. Wild Cow Moan
  6. Baby Please Don't Go
  7. Wonderful Time
  8. Sugar Gal
  9. Willow Tree Gal
  10. Alcohol Blues
  11. Little Girl
  12. Blues About My Baby
  13. No Friend Blues
  14. I Love You for Myself
  15. Bring Another Half a Pint
  16. Southern Dream
  17. Rub a Dub
  18. Better Cut That Out
  19. P Vine Blues
  20. Bad and Weak Hearted Blues
  21. King Biscuit Stomp
  22. I'm a Highway Man
  23. Banta Rooster Blues
  24. Mean Step Father Blues
  25. House Lady Blues
  26. Don't You Leave Me Here

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sonny Boy Williamson   Primary Artist,Harmonica,Vocals
Eddie Boyd   Piano
Big Bill Broonzy   Guitar
Blind John Davis   Piano
Walter Davis   Piano
Willie Dixon   Bass,Upright Bass
Big Joe Williams   Guitar,Vocals,Guest Appearance
Tampa Red   Guitar
Joshua Altheimer   Piano
Alfred Elkins   Bass,Upright Bass
Ransom Knowling   Bass,Upright Bass
Willie James Lacey   Guitar
Yank Rachell   Guitar,Vocals,Guest Appearance
Washboard Sam   Washboard
Ted Summitt   Guitar
Fred Williams   Drums
Charlie McCoy   Guitar
Charles Sanders   Drums
William Mitchell   Bass
Big Sid Cox   Guitar
Big Maceo   Piano
Judge Lawrence Riley   Drums
Armand Jump Jackson   Drums
William Mitchell   Upright Bass

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