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Leroy Carr Vol. 2 (1929-1930)

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Album Review

During the 1990s, blues legend Leroy Carr's complete recorded works were reissued in chronological sequence by Document Records Ltd. in six volumes with additional test pressings and alternate takes added to an appendix along with ultra-rare sides by Texas piano man Black Boy Shine. While later editions on other labels may boast of improved audio quality, nobody has ever covered Leroy Carr's recorded legacy more thoroughly or comprehensibly. Document's second volume contains all of his originally issued recordings dating from June 7, 1929 to January 2, 1930. Throughout this seven month stretch, Carr delivered his customary assortment of slow blues and ambling reflections, along with half a dozen upbeat boogie and hokum tunes, greatly spurred by the guitar and singing voice of Scrapper Blackwell. One should never rush into historic blues material looking for instantaneous kicks without stopping to breathe in the majestic honesty of real blues delivered at relaxed tempos without any gimmicks or punch lines. (The slow, thoughtful version of Carr's famous "How Long, How Long Blues" heard on this collection was the first of several sequels, and may be contrasted with a highly sexualized interpretation by Tampa Red's Hokum Jug Band wherein Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon does a very convincing impression of an aroused woman being steadily tupped by her lover.) For restless individuals who want to dive directly into humorous foot-tapping entertainment, the "upbeat" titles are "Naptown Blues," "Gettin' All Wet," "That's Tellin' 'Em," "Papa Wants a Cookie," "Memphis Town," and "The Dirty Dozen."


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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