Plan ‘A’ generally is for me to update this blog regularly – general blues stuff as well as more specifically featuring some of the many giants that well and truly issued those earliest recorded shouts which continue to resonate.
Without recording technology we can only guess what Blues singers sounded like before that. There are plenty of sheet music examples remaining of course but I for one would love to have heard the truly formative stuff. Whatever, it’s fairly safe to assume that how those people sounded must have had a direct influence on those who were eventually able to record.
I was always under the impression that Mamie Smith was the first to record blues material. Research shows this isn’t true, her brilliant recording of ‘Crazy Blues’ in 1920 (along with her ‘Jazz Hounds’) may have been the best seller up to that point but it certainly wasn’t the first. Nonetheless, Mamie Smith will be BLUE MOVIES’ first featured lady.
A touch of Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ here; twisting history which has generously sprinkled names with claims that have stuck and donned the cloak of truth because that’s what repetition has led people believe, despite being wrong – John Logie Baird did not invent TV – Guglielmo Marconi did not invent radio – and Mamie Smith did not make the first blues recording, probably the most successful up to then ‘though, and almost certainly the first black lady to record. This in no way reflects on how brilliantly good she was, those other guys were verging on dishonest. There’s nothing dishonest about Mamie Smith, my impression would be the absolute opposite, certainly musically. I mentioned elsewhere the first record I ever owned – ‘Staggerlee’ – performed by Lloyd price. Same thing seems to apply there too. Out of interest I looked it up. The first place I looked showed several names apparently responsible for writing ‘Staggerlee’, none of those names – at least one of which a famous name – had anything to do with writing it, it was written first by John Lomax in 1910 and a more commercial version in 1958 by one Harry Logan helped to some extent by Lloyd Price who had a huge hit with it.