The Blues Discography 1943-1970

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The Blues Discography 1943-1970

Postby blueswriter » Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:23 pm

THE BLUES DISCOGRAPHY 1943 -1970
Eyeball Productions (2006)

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Soft cover, 628 pages - highly recommended. Although light years beyond the information originally published in 1968 when Blues Records 1943-1966 was first born, The Blues Discography 1943-1970 is a remarkable and fitting tribute to the groundbreaking work of the late Mike Leadbitter, as well as Neil Slaven who continues writing about the music today. Considered indispensable when it first appeared, Blues Records was informative and extremely helpful to anyone wishing to know further details about blues recording sessions in the immediate Post-war years. What wasn't known at the time was that the work would be riddled with mistakes - certainly through little fault of either Leadbitter or Slaven - dealing as they were on many occasions with unmarked tape reels and boxes, session files that hadn't been correctly logged in the first place, and prior to their gargantuan undertaking, there was no previous work to refer to. When Mike Leadbitter died of tubercular meningitis in 1974 (at thirty-two years of age), Slaven was then at work on what would have been a three-volume series full of new information and expanded artist listings, which then sat collecting dust for a variety of reasons for too long.

Fast forward to 1987 when volume one of Blues Records 1943-1970 rose from the past in greatly expanded format thanks to the ongoing work of Neil Slaven, Paul Pelletier's Record Information Services of London, and others. While the plan probably looked fairly good on paper, publishing volume one (letters A-K of the alphabet) while volume two was still being worked on would prove to be almost disastrous. When sales numbers of the newly-updated first volume left scores of copies unsold, it was decided to print a much smaller quantity of the book's second volume. Eventually, the second volume (letters L-Z) sold out, and until now, collectors who wished to update their old, fraying copies of the original work were able to acquire only the first half of the second project.

Thankfully, that's all ancient history now, and apart from varying sentimental reasons, collectors and other interested parties can dispose of any and all previous volumes without fear. Intelligently layed out in eight-and-a-half by eleven inch size (a major improvement over the old six-and-a-half by eight format), compiled by Les Fancourt and produced by Bob McGrath, this version packs the entire alphabetical listing of hundreds and hundreds of blues artists in its 600-plus page layout while the 1987 effort stretched to more than 1,500 pages over two volumes. For those unfamiliar, discographies list all the pertinent session information including the location of the recording by city and state, each and every musician and their instrument (where known) and the original labels where the recordings appeared, as well as unissued tracks and test pressings.

If there's one minor letdown in this otherwise gorgeous and long-awaited blues recording bible, it's the omission of certain LP reissues emanating from the shores of the US, which were listed in the second attempt. If you know you have Earl Hooker's 1953 waxing of Off The Hook on LP but not on CD, and you're pulling your hair out trying to remember what album it's on, this guide won't clue you to the fact that it rests on a Nighthawk LP. Granted, Nighthawk and numerous other logos from inside the US border might well have flown beneath the radar (bootlegs), but Red Lightnin' or Sunnyland from the UK certainly shouldn't be considered as the most above-board of the 1970s LP reissue banners. That's a minor demerit when looking at the size and scope of this project, and with this guide now listing CD reissues (where known), as well as including a Musician's Index of more than sixteen pages, these balance the aforementioned oddity.

For anyone interested in blues recordings from the immediate Post-war period when the music was aimed almost solely at the African-American public, up to the time when it gained its critical international acclaim shortly after the British Invasion, The Blues Discography 1943-1970 will be returned to again and again when you're looking to sort out the multitude of sidemen who assisted Muddy Waters, Memphis Minnie, Birmingham Jones, Howlin' Wolf or anyone else you might be searching for. Mike Leadbitter would certainly be proud to see how this has grown and it's a good bet that he's smiling down on it each time it's opened by blues fans worldwide.

Eyeball Productions

© 2007 by Craig Ruskey
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Postby jeffl » Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:31 pm

Thanks again,B-Dub.
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Postby srvlives » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:25 am

Now, where the hell have you been Beedub?
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Postby jellyroll baker » Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:01 am

You forgot the biggest benefit of owning that book B-Dub - it's an invaluable reference for anyone attempting BRB triia!
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Postby blueswriter » Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:08 am

srvlives wrote:Now, where the hell have you been Beedub?


I sometimes fall off the map for extended periods of time but I usually right myself and wander back to places I knew before I vacated them. Nothing serious... I get bogged down with work and can't find time to be an active and contributing participant so I think I'm better going under-the-radar as opposed to being a hit-and-run poster.

Am I making any sense? Don't all nod at once. More reviews will be coming soon... :wink:
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