Minnie & Kansas Joe: Volume 1 (Document DOCD-5028)
Only one short step from Stokes & Sane (the Beale
St. Sheiks, themselves)...and, yet it was the big one.
Memphis Minnie - and the originally dominant
Kansas Joe - drove Memphis two guitar action forthwith
to Chicago. And nevermind the Depression, this rockin
roll sold all around the place...
Been stole from - from Muddy Waters to Led Zeppelin -
yet...still, the original duo cut em, let me tell
you... "When the Leveee Breaks", for example,
was a classic well before the latter got their (grubby)
hands upon it... Minnies dancing lead/rhythm patterns,
in particular, were lost in the process - and they, damnit,
were by far the best of the original... "Bumble Bee",
Id have to say, was a closer call - and Id
be hesitant not to give it to Mr. Morganfield, were it
not for the insane eruptions of the Memphis Jug Band on
version number three... Still, that takes nothing from
Minnie & Joe...since this remains one of the very
finest guitar duo collections, ever...
Because, the rolling semi-freestyle duo (& trio)
guitar interplay developed in and near Memphis during
the twenties has never been equalled, in its mix of fleet-footed
lead/rhythm & rocking/grounded rhythm/lead. There
were a bunch of them in the twenties - Stokes & Sane
were the elders & led the pack. But...of these, only
this pair survived the Depression.
The roll was easier, here - lightly poised somewhere
between Stokes/Sane & Akers/Callicott, say - and so,
the pulse moved further from 2/4 to 4/4, yet without sacrificing
the essential feel at all... The result mostly grooved
more than rocked (twenties-style), and offered the most
crucial direct Memphis influence upon 30s Chicago blues.
And, if you want to hear them most clearly...try tracks
19-23 here, as these are the veritable Memphis/Chicago
turnover in essence. - As well, of course, they also offer
the very best recorded sound herein. Cause these recordings
date from1929-30, and - albeit they are of high quality,
given their date - thanks be to RCA - theres a marked
fidelity increase (mostly) throughout...
Look, Minnie & Joe were amongst the greats. Sure,
theres a buncha substandard stuff here,
too - ifn you define substandard as
nonetheless intoxicatingly rhythmic stuff (cause thats
guaranteed) - but theres - as yet - no genuinely
definitive selective collection available, so...I (really)
dont wanna play that kinda game..
Cause, Im wild about the stuff
John Henry Calvinist