Sleepy John Estes - Complete Recordings Volume 2: 1937-1941 (CD)

$ 14.99


Release Date: 12/17/06

This album begins with Sleepy John Este's account of how he came close to drowning when a car he was riding in skidded off a temporary bridge. It's typical of the man, in that it deals with events and people from his immediate experience and in its constricted, emotional singing, matched by Hammie Nixon's melancholy harmonica. It's typical also in the element of paradox involved; this terrifying experience is recounted to the tune of 'Careless Love' (a tune he later used to sing about the fact that he'd gone 'Stone Blind'!) John Norris of 'Jazz Beat Magazine' once wrote of Sleepy John Estes 'The emotional impact of his singing is overwhelming and when he really gets wound up in his music he sings with great power.' Sleepy John Estes was in many ways the personification of the blues. His pleading vocals were always on the point of disintegrating into a cry, either of help or of joy. His guitar playing, which could either be used as a thumping rhythm or as a remarkable, strong and precise lead, were a direct line to the life of poverty that he lived and his experiences in the Brownsville, Tennessee, where he was born and where he died. Volume Two of his recordings continues to reveal Sleepy John Estes as a significant blues artist of the pre-war blues era. In addition to long time friend and music companion Hammie Nixon, several tracks find Sleepy John in the company Robert Lee McCoy, also known as Robert Nighthawk, Son Bonds and there is the possibility of an appearance of Charlie Pickett. Between them they produce some excellent blues such as Brownsvillle Blues, Hobo Jungle Blues and Special Agent. Drop Down is one of two recordings to feature the lively washboard playing of Ann Sortier, the girlfriend of Robert Lee McCoy. There is the strange, semi-religious blues Time Is Drawing Near. Tell Me How About It has some explicit things to say about 'Mister Tom' and his son-in-law 'Mister Robert', making its chorus heavily ironic. Don't You Want To Know has all the originality of Estes' more serious lyrics e.g. the reference to Major Bowes, who ran a radio talent show. Sleepy John recorded and appeared extensively between 1961 and 1975 following his re-discovery and though his performances were strong and satisfying they did hide both the magic and vitality of his early recordings which Document now presents.

Label: Document Records
Genre: Blues
Run Time: 70 mins

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