Sloppy Henry puts so much soul into his singing you really believe every word. This recording is very old but sounds contemporary. Good storytelling is timeless.
Hailing from Oklona, Mississippi Booker White learned guitar from his father, and helped to define Delta Blues music as we know it. White’s interpretation of “Shake ’em On Down,” a popular theme of the day, was later covered as a rock piece by Led Zeppelin.
Although the subject matter of “One Dime Blues” may be cliche in the world of blues, no other artist has such a powerful cadence as the great Blind Lemon Jefferson. Jefferson’s quick-chords and toe-tapping rhythm is sharp juxtaposition with the song’s subject matter, each verse tackling the plight of the poor in the 1920s.
It was the holiday season, December 17, to be exact, in 1936, when this magnificent performance of Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” was recorded by The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Under the inspired leadership of the great German conductor Bruno Walter, each movement of the masterpiece comes to life and crackles with joyful energy.
Kudos to F. Reeder for the outstanding audio transfer to digital from the original Victor 78 RPM record. Here are all four movements, as breathtaking and unpretentiously beautiful as any music ever conceived. You can click the first one and the player will take you through the rest in sequence, or if you prefer you can download them by right clicking the links, select “save as” and download the files. Enjoy!
II. Romanze (Andante)
III. Menuetto and Trio (Allegretto)
IV. Rondo (Allegro)
From Kansas City Kitty & Georgia Tom we get this upbeat blues number, “How Can You Have the Blues,” a flirty duet about a woman who appears to have it all, but is continually bogged down by depression. The name Kansas City Kitty may not ring any bells with the most enthusiastic American blues aficionados. It could be because there is a mystery behind the true identity of this sexy voiced blues woman, but what we do know is that this track, recorded in 1930, features Thomas A. Dorsey on piano and vocals, playing under his popular pseudonym Georgia Tom. With its fantastic melody and conversational blues style, this number lends truth to the idea that money can’t buy you happiness.
Mississippi John Hurt sings on this thinly veiled song about domestic violence in “Nobody’s Dirty Business.” According to John, the sadism works both ways. Eventually his woman leaves. But John writes her a letter begging her to come back. She eventually returns and I suspect the dynamic keeps cycling over and over again. An important message brought to you from way back in 1935 – sometimes relationships just plain old don’t work out.
Blind Blake was born Arthur Blake in Jacksonville Florida. During Blind Blake’s prosperous career he recorded over 75 cuts for the Paramount label. “Diddie Wa Diddie” shows off Blind Blake’s distinctive vocal and guitar rhythm. This song was later covered by Ry Cooder and Hot Tuna. I only wish somebody would tell me what “Diddie Wa Diddie” means.
The great Leadbelly, with one of his classic sides that helped define American music in the 20th century and beyond. Over his own distinctive, relaxed guitar accompaniment, Leadbelly’s vocal on this recording is simply magnificent. Widely revered by music fans and covered by blues scholars, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” was also sung by Kurt Cobain on Nirvana’s Unplugged album.
When you read the words “Slave to the blues,” it doesn’t compare to how it sounds and feels when Ma Rainey sings this song. You can imagine her holding her heart in chains during this dreary memory. It’s another way to say endless heart ache.
Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, written in epistolary form, is about Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who seems discontent and achieves satisfaction by exploring the supernatural realm in a village near Gevena. The creation of his “monster” comes about because of his unchecked intellectual ambition. His experiment gets out of hand and his reaction to this man-made “monster’s” desire for companionship makes for a fantastic read. This thesis has been the basis for several films. The struggles between Dr. Frankenstein and the “monster” he created are fascinating.
This work can be found for FREE at Project Gutenberg.
A FREE version of the audio book can be found here.