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Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 3 1937

Blind Boy Fuller

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Album Review

JSP's second four-CD box set dedicated to the memory of eastern bluesman Blind Boy Fuller opens with his final recordings. The rest of this portable archive is packed with blues and hokum by individuals who lived and worked in the same eastern seaboard region, actually collaborated with Fuller, or performed in a style comparable to his. This is quite similar to how JSP constructed their Lightnin' Hopkins and Sonny Boy Williamson sets. Fuller, whose given name was Fulton Allen, cut approximately 137 sides during a five-year period beginning in 1935. JSP's preceding volume is the ideal tool for appreciating and understanding this celebrated Piedmont-style blues musician, whose greatest claim to fame is the ever-popular "Trucking My Blues Away." Volume 2 is a strong sequel, and its 37 Fuller tracks date from 1939 and 1940. Several of the men whose works make up the remainder of the collection may be heard on Fuller's earlier recordings. Blind Gary Davis is believed to have sat in on some of the sessions headed by singer and washboard percussionist Bull City Red, who was christened George Washington and sometimes recorded simply as Oh Red. Like Davis, Red felt compelled to straddle the artificially imposed delineation between sacred and secular by singing both blues and gospel. Thirteen of his records are reproduced here. On six of these, he and two others are identified as Brother George & His Sanctified Singers. The instantly recognizable harmonica player on these and other sides throughout both of JSP's Fuller box sets was none other than Sonny Terry. There are also cameo appearances by Curley Weaver and Washboard Sam.

The third disc in the set is mostly devoted to records waxed in Charlotte, North Carolina during the late ‘30s by three little-known musicians. Cedar Creek Sheik was the performing alias of Philip McCutcheon, who was born in Andrews South Carolina in 1910. His hillbilly-sounding vocals still cause consternation among British music historians who are obsessed with his exact skin pigmentation and ethnic origins. Of the ten sides he cut for Bluebird in Charlotte, North Carolina in June 1936, the real gem is "Buy It from the Poultry Man," which has a vocal chorus consisting of the words "cock for sale." In his informative liner notes, Neil Slaven refers to this amazing little opus as a "single entendre" song. The naughty template for the tune was a staple among barrelhouse entertainers, and within weeks of this recording, Stella Johnson used her own variant on a record of "Hot Nuts Swing" backed by Dorothy Scott's Rhythm Boys (see Document 5327, Blue Ladies 1934-1941). The formula would be revisited years later with a vengeance by the African-American fraternity band Doug Clark & the Hot Nuts.

Four sides by singing guitarist Sonny Jones were made in Memphis in mid-July 1939 with Sonny Terry and Oh Red. Jones hailed from Wilson, North Carolina and is believed to have provided backup for Fuller during the same visit to Memphis. The remaining artists heard on this collection include Floyd Council, who was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1911, as well as Willie ("Welly") Trice and his brother Richard "Rich" Trice, who were born in Hillsborough, North Carolina in 1910 and 1917, respectively. Posterity can thank the white men overseeing the recording sessions for Council's nickname "Dipper Boy," as well as the younger Trice's tacked-on moniker "Little Boy Fuller." Additionally, on his December 1937 recordings, Council was billed as "The Devil's Daddy-In-Law" in a record company director's attempt to tap into the Peetie Wheatstraw market. Frank Edwards is believed to have been born in Washington, Georgia in 1909. Recorded in May 1941, his "We Got to Get Together" takes pot shots at Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. This set's concluding sides, cut for the Regal label in Linden, New Jersey during August 1949, are performed by one Dennis McMillon. His best tune, "I'm a Paper Wooden Daddy," seems to trace directly back to Blind Boy Fuller's first recording, "I'm a Rattlesnakin' Daddy."

Biography

Born: July 10, 1907 in Wadesboro, NC

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s

Unlike blues artists like Big Bill or Memphis Minnie who recorded extensively over three or four decades, Blind Boy Fuller recorded his substantial body of work over a short, six-year span. Nevertheless, he was one of the most recorded artists of his time and by far the most popular and influential Piedmont blues player of all time. Fuller could play in multiple styles: slide, ragtime, pop, and blues were all enhanced by his National steel guitar. Fuller worked with some fine sidemen, including Rev....
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