After his debut appearance in a comic strip by E. C. Segar, Popeye the Sailor became a beloved star of: radio, TV, theater, movies, popular songs, and even pinball and video games. In short, Popeye was successful in every arena he could possibly appear in. This very early version of the “Popeye the Sailor Man” theme song is enough to inspire even the most squeamish of kids to try some gooey, slimy, canned green spinach for the first time.
Mississippi blues legend Big Joe Williams testifies on the real value of a Stack O’ Dollars, on this astonishing early Delta blues recording.
Williams’ unique 9-string steel guitar rhythm, alongside a haunting fiddle lead, provides the perfect accompaniment to his searing vocal. Joe Williams continued to tour and perform for decades after recording this and numerous other sides for various early record labels. This song is as relevant today as it has ever been.
South Carolina brothers Dorsey and Howard Dixon worked for many years in Carolina textile mills, and some of their original compositions were sung by striking mill workers during labor disputes in the early 1930’s. This earned them the nickname “hillbilly communists” among the local authorities. RCA Victor Records saw fit to record the rabble-rousing duo, and they released over fifty sides in their time. “Intoxicated Rat” features The Dixon Brothers’ easy vocal harmonies and trademark slide guitar style.
Born Albert Clemens in Kingsport, Tennessee in March of 1887, Cripple Clarence Lofton was a key figure in the Chicago Boogie Woogie and Blues music scenes. His stage presence was legendary, with a live performance that included virtuoso piano work, singing, storytelling, percussion, and even his own high energy dance steps. In the 1930’s, Lofton recorded and performed with Big Bill Broonzy and other giants of pre-war blues, continuing to retirement the late 1940’s. Here is one of his great classic sides, “Monkey Man Blues,” on mp3 from the 78 RPM disc.
The lyrics and music that Son House put down in the 1920’s and early 30’s left an indelible mark on blues, country, rock, RnB, and just about every genre of American music. His classic “My Black Mama (Part 1)” has been covered and reinterpreted by a who’s-who of blues legends including Robert Johnson, who recorded it as “Walkin’ Blues.” John Lee Hooker called his post-war version “Burnin’ Hell,” based on the lines “Ain’t no heaven, ain’t no burnin’ hell, where I’m goin’ when I die, can’t nobody tell.” This amazing solo vocal and guitar performance has lost none of its power over nearly a century since it was released on 78 RPM discs.
Country blues fiddle pioneer Jim Booker recorded with Taylor’s Kentucky Boys, as well as his own Booker Orchestra. This track called “Forked Deer” showcases his nimble finger technique and energetic, highly melodic musical style. This was definitely dance music at the time of its creation, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself tapping your feet or doing a spontaneous hoe-down! Pure instrumental early bluegrass fun.
This great performance of the instrumental Roaring 20’s romp, “Toodles,” by Edison Recording Artist, the Charleston 7, stands the test of time on this MP3 from the original Edison Disc. You may recognize a theme or two from this piece, which were later borrowed by the Looney Tunes gang for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons! Step into the Wayback Machine in your finest flapper apparel, and dance the Charleston to this high energy combo!
How crazy is crazy blues? Well, has you ever been in love? If you has, then you knows! If you hasn’t, then you don’t. This song is but a preview for the uninitiated, and a calming opiate for those in the know. Oh, that trombone makes our knees buckle. This song was huge hit in its day, and ain’t no reason you shouldn’t have it in your iPod or whatever gizmo you kids are runnin’ with. Clean mp3 copy on this one, too.
Annette Hanshaw’s sincere and unaffected vocal style was a natural fit for the jazz-influenced pop music which emerged in the 1920’s. Her recordings for the Pathé and Perfect Record labels, including an early version of “Body And Soul,” were hits in the Golden Age of Radio. Hanshaw left the spotlight in 1936, to settle down with her husband, Pathé executive Herman Rose. “Ain’t He Sweet” finds Annette Hanshaw’s charming and disarming voice accompanied by a single upright piano, in an up-tempo jaunt with echoes of ragtime and speakeasies.
Kokomo Arnold’s left-handed slide guitar playing and vocals, delivered with the same intensity and conviction as a sermon from a Sunday preacher, made his records sound 20 years ahead of their time. From 1934, “Sissy Man Blues” has a place in gay music history, with the famous, and perhaps the most lucidly sung phrase on the record, “Lord if you can’t send me no woman, please send me some sissy man.”