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Papa Charlie Jackson: Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928-1934)

Papa Charlie Jackson

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Album Review

Papa Charlie Jackson's last 25 recordings, dating from September of 1928 through November of 1934, and doing more proper blues here than on either previous volume. By the time of the release of the material here, Jackson was one of the most seasoned of studio bluesmen, with nearly half a decade recording experience behind him — his vocal presence on all of these records is extraordinary, and he knows how to get the most out of his instrument, guitar or banjo. "Ma and Pa Poorhouse Blues" and "Big Feeling Blues," both duets with Ma Rainey, present him at his most mature and naturally expressive vocally, in sharp contrast to the almost perfunctory vocals on volume one of this set. The Hattie McDaniels duets, two halves of "Dentist Chair Blues," are also extremely worthwhile as far more than novelty numbers. In addition to some priceless topical songs, such as "You Got That Wrong," there are some notable re-recordings here, including a killer 1934 remake of Jackson's earlier hit "Skoodle-Um-Skoo" (which by then had entered the repertory of Big Bill Broonzy, who was taught guitar by Jackson), and his last follow-up to "Shake That Thing," "What's That Thing She's Shakin'." The delightfully risqué-sounding "You Put It In, I'll Take It Out" closes this collection. The only drawback to any of this is that, despite the fact that it consists of material recorded much later than anything on volumes one or two, the sound quality on this disc is far lower, with lots of distracting surface noise on many of the sources used for individual songs — the most disappointing of these are the two sides that Jackson cut with Blind (Arthur) Blake, who was very much an influence on Jackson; two of the greatest blues/ragtime guitarists and songsters of the early blues era together on record, and the scratchiness is nearly maddening. Only the four final 1934 sides really come up to the level one would wish on this stuff.

Biography

Born: 1887 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s

Papa Charlie Jackson was the first bluesman to record, beginning in 1924 with the Paramount label, playing a hybrid banjo-guitar (six strings tuned like a guitar but with a banjo body that gave it a lighter resonance) and ukulele. And apart from his records and their recording dates, little else is known for sure about this pioneering blues performer, other than...
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Papa Charlie Jackson: Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928-1934), Papa Charlie Jackson
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