Review: Willie McTell lps - which one to buy?
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Review: Willie McTell lps - which one to buy?


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eekahil 20 Dec 10 - 02:21 PM
dick greenhaus 20 Dec 10 - 02:35 PM
Fred McCormick 20 Dec 10 - 03:01 PM
Nick 20 Dec 10 - 07:10 PM
Bob the Postman 20 Dec 10 - 07:43 PM
eekahil 20 Dec 10 - 09:42 PM
reggie miles 20 Dec 10 - 11:03 PM
12-stringer 21 Dec 10 - 01:47 PM
iancarterb 22 Dec 10 - 01:00 AM
12-stringer 22 Dec 10 - 03:12 AM
Roger the Skiffler 22 Apr 18 - 03:05 AM
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Subject: Review: Wllie McTell albums - which one to buy?
From: eekahil
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 02:21 PM

Hi Folks.
I have lurked this board off and on a rather long time but only joined today.
My inaugural post is a recommendation request.

Of the limited availability of Willie McTell music out there, and the relatively repetitive content, what ONE recording should I buy? Especially hoping to know if any of the discs are dogs, sound-wise.
Thanks and howdy!

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Subject: RE: Review: Wllie McTell lps - which one to buy?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 02:35 PM

Soundwise, the Yazoo "Best of Willie McTell" is probably the clear winner; The JSP 4-CD det also sound very good, and is a much better buy.
Both (along with the Document 3-CD set) are available from CAMSCO Music. Of course.

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Subject: RE: Review: Wllie McTell lps - which one to buy?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 03:01 PM

Buy his entire recorded output. There is very little repetitive content and there isn't a dud among the whole lot.

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Subject: RE: Review: Wllie McTell lps - which one to buy?
From: Nick
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 07:10 PM

You could go to Spotify where there are loads of tracks and have a listen and then choose the one(s) you want to buy. I just listened to half a dozen nibbles of songs and they sound pretty good.

Alternatively you could just close your eyes and...

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Subject: RE: Review: Wllie McTell lps - which one to buy?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 07:43 PM

The "Last Session" is absolutely outstanding. They brought him in off the street corner where he'd been busking, sat him down in front of a reel-to-reel, poured him a drink and kept on pouring, and he laid down some of his core repertoire. He's not completely sober, he's not completely flawless, but he's GREAT. The circa 1930 stuff is slicker, the Lomax recording is more educational, but the Last Session is valedictory--the distilled essence of a lifetime as a working musician, a very talented, very intelligent man who came through what must have been a pretty hard life with style and dignity. The tape was forgotten in a storeroom and miraculously salvaged from a rubbish bin.

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Subject: RE: Review: Wllie McTell lps - which one to buy?
From: eekahil
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 09:42 PM

OMG, I'm a member to your gang for this teeny bit o' time and already I get so much nice responsage. Thank you all so very much!

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Subject: RE: Review: Wllie McTell lps - which one to buy?
From: reggie miles
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 11:03 PM

I'm no expert on recordings but Willie is a favorite of mine. I particularly enjoy one recording called, "Atlanta Twelve String", on Atlantic Records. The sweet thing about this recording is that it reveals the dual nature of his style and approach to playing. One side could be categorized as Gospel music, while the other side could easily be considered the Devil's music. There are excellent songs on each side that I have incorporated into my song bag, "Pearly Gates", "Motherless Children", "Ain't It Grand", "Last Dime4 Blues", "Blues Around Midnight", "Broke Down Engine", and a few that I'm still workin' on.

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Subject: RE: Review: Wllie McTell lps - which one to buy?
From: 12-stringer
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 01:47 PM

Don't know if it ever actually came out, but a "complete" set was advertised a few years ago -- but at something like $150. The only thing it had that is not otherwise available were the unissued tracks from the "Last Session" of 1956. I think there were 13 tracks on the Prestige LP, but there were about 18 tracks in all on the original tapes.

"Complete Blues" label's "King of the Georgia Blues Singers," from the UK, is otherwise the most comprehensive collection on CD. I can't address the quality because I don't have one yet, but you can find this for approximately $12 plus shipping from associated sellers at a*az*n. It has all of McTell's solo material from 1927-1940, plus all of the sides on which he is accompanist*; the 1940 LOC session, and the McTell material from the 1949 Regal session.

*Exception is that it does not have the "Merciful Blues/Talkin' to You Wimmen 'Bout the Blues" coupling by Ruth Willis from 1931, of which no copy had ever been found until quite recently. McTell is accompanist here, occasionally talking (he even sings the first verse of "Talkin'"). It does have the two sides by Alphonsy and Bethenea Harris, plus the Curley Weaver tracks from 1933 and 1935 that also feature McTell (my recollection is that he talks a little, but doesn't play, on a couple of other tracks with Weaver and/or Buddy Moss from the 1933 ARC session, and these aren't included).

Missing are the "Last Session," as well as the 1949 Atlantic recordings, which are under copyright in the UK where this collection originates. (Though the Atlantic coupling of "Broke Down Engine/Kill It Kid," released on 78rpm in 1949 or 1950, probably is public domain under UK law, I don't think it's on the "Complete Blues" set. The rest of the session was not released until abt 1970, on LP, while "Last Session" was issued around 1963.)

The JSP collection is very comparable but does not include the 1949 Regal material nor quite all of the McTell-accompanied tracks on the "Complete Blues" set. Otherwise, it contains all of the 1927-1940 issued (and some unissued tests) and the LOC recordings. A*az*n sellers generally price this around $18.

Either of those sets, then, plus "Atlanta 12-String" (the wonderful 1949 Atlantic recordings) and the valedictory "Last Session," will give you a virtually complete catalog of McTell in front of the mike, and not at all expensively. He's more than worth having all of.

McTell is uniformly first-rate.

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Subject: RE: Review: Wllie McTell lps - which one to buy?
From: iancarterb
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 01:00 AM

I'm in the same camp as Bob the Postman on this- I stumbled across Blind Willie McTell's Last Session in 1963 and was even more moved by the 12 string than I had been by Leadbelly's steam-engine accompaniments. I have heard some unknown but unmistable Willie McTell on KBCS FM across the sound in Bellevue, Washington, recorded under another name, probably dodging some other record company's claims on him. Does anyone know other names he used?

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Subject: McTell pseudos
From: 12-stringer
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 03:12 AM

He was Blind Willie McTell on Victor (1927-29), Blind Sammie on Columbia (1929-31), Georgia Bill on Okeh (1931), Blind Willie/Red Hot Willie on Victor (1932), Blind Willie on ARC (1933 and 1937), Blind Willie McTell on Decca (1935), and Barrelhouse Sammy (the Country Boy) on Atlantic (1949). A couple of religious songs from his 1949 Regal session were issued by Blind Willy/Willie McTell, but the only issued non-religious 78 was credited to the Pig 'n Whistle Band. The Regal tracks have been issued on LP and CD as by "Pig 'n Whistle Red," though I don't know if McTell ever actually used that name himself. "Samuel" was his middle name. McTell references himself in songs almost as often as Jerry Lee Lewis and always uses the correct pseudo for whichever label had given him a microphone.

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Subject: RE: Review: Willie McTell lps - which one to buy?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 22 Apr 18 - 03:05 AM

The Last Session is a start, it is in my modest (ahem) collection.

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