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The history of rhythm & blues goes futher back than the Temptations and Aretha Franklin. Here's some info. I saw Diddy Ya Diddy on Youtube, and he was halarious.
The History of Rhythm and Blues
Selected commentaries taken from the booklet accompanying History of Rhythm and Blues 1925-1942
The History of Rhythm and Blues 1925-1942
Disc One - The Blues - From The Delta To The City - Country Blues, Spirituals, Jug Bands, Hokum
Blind Willie Johnson - It's Nobody's Fault But Mine
Blind Willie Johnson b. TX (1902-1947) v, g. Dallas Dec 1927 Columbia 14303
The role of blues singer and preacher seem to be inextricably linked in Afro-American culture. Almost without exception, blues singers have a musical connection with the church, and preachers have an intimate experience of the trials and tribulations that blues singers deal with in their lyrics. It is by no means uncommon to find bluesmen crossing the divide at a certain point in their career to preach the Word of the Lord. Some straddle the fence for a while until their conscience or their wallet speaks loudest. Deliberately blinded at the age of seven by his stepmother after a domestic brawl involving his father and another man, Johnson is one of the better known of the early guitar evangelists. Although he never performed any strict blues numbers, his distinctive slide guitar playing and rough, rasping vocals, full of emotion and passion, were a great influence on many artists such as Muddy Waters. The song maintains a single chord drone throughout with no change in harmony, which is one of the features of the early Delta blues. Johnson used to tune his guitar to an open D tuning using a pocketknife as a slide to echo and imitate his melodic phrases.
Pearl Dickson - Little Rock Blues
Pearl Dickson, v; Maylon Harney, g ; Richard Harney, g. Memphis Dec 1927 Columbia 14286
Little is known about Pearl Dickson, and this record, backed with Twelve Pound Daddy was her only release. The Harney brothers provide an impressive guitar accompaniment featuring early examples of archetypal R&B riffs. The chunky Chicago-style four-note guitar pattern, which would be brought to perfection in Robert Johnson’s Sweet Home Chicago, is played double-stopped on the bass strings, and transposed as the harmony changes. The high repeated triplet riff is one that Elmore James would later make his own. Dickson puts in a strong vocal performance, and her final ‘that’s enough’ leaves us in no doubt as to who was in charge on the day.
Blind Lemon Jefferson - Match Box Blues
Blind Lemon Jefferson b. TX (1897-1930), g, v. Chicago 1927 Okeh 8455
The sound of Texas blues was somewhat lighter, more sophisticated than in neighbouring Mississippi, and featured more relaxed vocals and mainly single-string guitar players. An itinerant musician, Jefferson was blind from birth, and for a time, T-Bone Walker used to lead him from street to street. He worked as a team with Leadbelly, and is generally considered to have been the most influential rural blues musician. His voice ranged from a high piercing to a low moan, and he had the ability to bend notes on the guitar imitating his vocal inflections. Matchbox Blues has an underlying ragtime beat, but the boogie riff during the middle of the song takes it into another direction which Big Bill Broonzy would later take up.
Blind Blake - Diddie Wah Diddie
Arthur Phelps b. FL (1890-1933), g, v. Chicago Aug 1929 Paramount 12888
Phelps travelled as a hobo in his early life often performing at lumber camps and singing for road gangs, but by 1926 he had settled in Chicago. In Afro-American folklore, Diddie Wah Diddie is said to be the mythical land of no work and no worries, but Phelps is using the metaphor here in a more earthy sense, poking fun at his own supposed naivety. This is a relaxed swinging rag, showcasing his rhythmically inventive ragtime blues guitar, and its strict adherence to a twelve bar blues structure suggests that it may have been used as a popular dance piece.
Barbeque Bob - Ease It To Me Blues
Robert Hicks b. GA (1902-31) v, g. Atlanta April 1928 Columbia 14614
On the East Coast, there was an altogether smoother style of guitar playing, using more complex harmonies. In a life cut short at the age of 29 by an attack of pneumonia, Hicks was a central figure in the development of Atlanta blues. Ease It To Me Blues highlights his highly percussive style, and he is heard using the kind of melodic and rhythmic riffs, which prefigure later styles. The irregular structure is typical of the rural blues, and although there is an approximate twelve bar harmonic scheme, extra bars and beats are added for emphasis whenever Hicks feels the need. His nickname was earned from working in a barbeque grill restaurant, and his powerful, ringing 12-string guitar made him into Columbia’s best-seller in the 1920s.
Jim Jackson - Kansas City Blues
Jim Jackson b. MS (1890-1937) g, v. Chicago Oct 1927 Vocalion 1144
As the blues moved into the urban areas, songs were being written to reflect the new aspirations of city life. Kansas City Blues is a slow rag with a heavy ponderous beat, showing influences from Frank Stokes, and Jackson’s rhythmic on-the-beat strumming provides an early version of the chunky guitar riff which would shape the Chicago sound in the 50s and 60s. Along with many of the older blues singers, Jackson toured with minstrel and medicine shows, and even appeared in the film Hallelujah in 1929.
Jimmie Rodgers - Train Whistle Blues
Jimmie Rodgers b. MS (1897-1933) g, v. with accompaniment Dallas Aug 1929 Victor 22379
Rodgers was right at the forefront of the cross-fertilisation between the blues and white country music in the 1910s and 20s. The majority of his recordings are blues-based and some of his material shows signs of influence from Blind Lemon Jefferson. His father was a rail yard worker, and he followed in the family tradition, working on the railroad when he had no musical employment. His appearance in the film The Singing Brakeman further identified him with the railways. This close interaction between country and blues would continue throughout the development of R & B with Hank Williams, Wynonie Harris and Ray Charles playing major roles.
Georgia Tom and Tampa Red - It's Tight Like That
Thomas Dorsey b. GA (1899-1993), p, v; Hudson ‘Tampa Red’ Whittaker b. GA (1900-1981), g, v. Chicago Oct 1928 Vocalion 1216
Dorsey had a strong religious upbringing, his father being a Baptist minister, but he initially made his name playing piano at rent parties and juke joints after moving to Chicago in 1916. After miraculously recovering from a serious illness in 1930, he retired from the blues world to concentrate on sacred music, and whilst not being the first to write gospel music, he was certainly responsible for bringing the genre to a wider audience, becoming gospel’s best known composer with songs such as Take My Hand, Precious Lord and Peace In The Valley. Along with the Carr/Blackwell partnership, this duo was responsible for helping to create an urbane sounding blues more fitting to a city setting. Its Tight Like That became one of the best selling blues records of all time, inspiring literally hundreds of cover versions and imitations.
The History of Rhythm and Blues 1925-1942
Disc Two - The Rhythm - Piano Boogie-Woogie Ragtime And Jazz
Cow Cow Davenport - Cow Cow Blues
Charles ‘Cow Cow’ Davenport b. AL (1894-1955), p, v. Chicago Jul 1928 Vocalion 1198
Davenport came from a church background, but he moved into vaudeville in his early years, and was known to have worked with Bessie Smith. His was a uniquely personal style, combining elements of ragtime and barrelhouse, featuring the use of crushed notes (notes played almost simultaneously to simulate the bending of notes in a blues tonality). His style was also notable for the development of the walking bass, where the left hand plays sequenced notes from the scale on every beat of the bar. Like Meade Lux Lewis’ Honky Tonk Train Blues, this is a tune imitating the sound of a train, and his nickname comes from the name of the pointed ‘cow catcher’ grill located at the front of a particular type of locomotive, in other words, "Get out of the Way, Davenport is here!" Atlantic records boss, Ahmet Ertegun would later adapt elements of the song to form Ray Charles’ first Atlantic release, Mess Around.
Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell - How Long How Long Blues
Leroy Carr b TN (1905-1935) v, p; Scrapper Blackwell, g. Indianapolis June 1928 Vocalion 1191
Carr moved to Indianapolis in early life, so his main influences are urban rather than rural. His relaxed and plaintive style fitted the mood of the city and helped to define the character of urban blues. Unfortunately, alcoholism pushed him towards an early grave in 1935, but he lived on in the records of his contemporaries Amos Easton, Bill Gaither and Roosevelt Sykes. Carr’s restrained, almost casual approach made him probably the most important voice in the first twenty years of urban blues recordings, and his influence can be detected in the work of Robert Johnson, Big Maceo, Roy Brown and the West Coast club blues singers, such as Percy Mayfield and Charles Brown.