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Leroy Carr Vol. 5 (1934)

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Album Review

Vol. 5 in Document's Complete Recorded Works of Leroy Carr focuses upon one of his last great periods of recording activity, from mid-August to mid-December 1934, providing the listener with 19 titles and three alternate takes. In addition to his main man Scrapper Blackwell, Carr is heard with guitarist Josh White on this collection, which is as strong as any other volume in Document's meticulously thorough Leroy Carr retrospective. Most of this music moves at an easy and unhurried pace, which is ideal for expressing simple intimate truths about loneliness, heartbreak, and interpersonal relationships. The ambling "George Street Blues" is more or less a sequel to Carr's "I Ain't Got No Money Now," and both songs are distantly related to Clarence "Pinetop" Smith's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." While the instrumentation is almost invariably confined to piano and guitar, "Big Four Blues" is punctuated with blasts from a hand-held imitation train whistle. As is the case with almost everything Leroy Carr ever recorded, most of these songs describe passions, habits, and full-blown addictions unflinchingly. "Hustler's Blues" contains Carr's famous line "Whiskey is my habit, good women is all I crave," while "Eleven Twenty-Nine Blues" offers a concise account of how "My gal got arrested and they put her in the county jail." Performances with extra rhythmic punch are the brisk "Barrelhouse Woman," the boogie-based "Bo Bo Stomp," "Don't Start No Stuff," and "Muddy Water," during which an unnamed river overflows its banks and meets Leroy Carr at his doorstep.


Born: 27 March 1905 in Nashville, TN

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s

The term "urban blues" is usually applied to post-World War II blues band music, but one of the forefathers of the genre in its pre-electric format was pianist Leroy Carr. Teamed with the exemplary guitarist Scrapper Blackwell in Indianapolis, Carr became one of the top blues stars of his day, composing and recording almost 200 sides during his short lifetime, including such classics as "How Long, How Long," "Prison Bound Blues," "When the Sun Goes Down," and "Blues Before Sunrise." His blues were...
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