Tampa Red - "The Man With The Gold Guitar"
Newly restored using XR remastering technology
Tampa Red is the second blues artist to receive the 'XR' treatment, following our issue of the complete Robert Johnson recordings a month ago. Once again, great care was taken to find suitable recordings with which to construct tonal references and reshape the sound profiles of these mainly late-1930's recordings, the process at the heart of the XR remastering system.
Clearly some sides have survived the intervening years better than others, and it's interesting to find better overall sound quality lurking in the earliest of these recordings, 1934's Grievin' and Worryin' Blues than in some of the records from later in that same decade. It's easy to speculate on why this might be the case - I've noted similar declines in surface quality in UK pressed discs during the 1930's - but one should perhaps avoid jumping to conclusions.
I've avoided running these tracks in order of recording dates, and have instead compiled them to create a perhaps more musical flow for the listener. I am aware in doing this that each listener would probably make a different choice.
The two recordings from 1942 include one of Tampa Red's biggest hits, the innuendo-laden I Want To Play With Your Poodle, and what seemed to me its natural partner in crime, She Wants To Sell My Monkey. I will leave it to the listener to decide how best to interpret the lyrics here - what I find most musically interesting is how the addition of drums to the piano, guitar and kazoo instrumentation already common in earlier recordings, coupled with the ongoing development of his musical style, looks forward with astonishing foresight to the major revolution in popular music which was to arrive a decade or more later. Indeed, one can even hear in the off-beat kazoo playing, coupled with the jaunty rhythms, the origins of 1960's Jamaican ska music, which grew out of the copying and adapting of blues-based music to be heard on American radio stations picked up in Jamaica at the time, and would of course later slow down and evolve into reggae - by which time Tampa Red was destitute and largely forgotten...
- She's Love Crazy (3:00) 24/6/41
- Delta Woman Blues (3:07) 11/10/37
- Bessemer Blues (2:48) 15/5/39
- It's A Low Down Shame (2:57) 24/6/41
- Hard Road Blues (2:57) 27/11/40
- So Far, So Good (2:43) 24/6/41
- You Missed A Good Man (3:34) 1/11/35
- Anna Lou Blues (2:53) 10/5/40
- Got To Leave My Woman (3:19) 14/3/38
- Kingfish Blues (3:08) 22/3/34
- Love With A Feeling (2:58) 16/6/38
- Travel On (2:24) 11/10/37
- Deceitful Friend Blues (3:02) 11/10/37
- When The One You Love Is Gone (3:08) 4/5/37
- It Hurts Me Too (2:32) 10/5/40
- Witchin' Hour Blues (3:13) 27/10/34
- Grievin' And Worryin' Blues (3:05) 14/6/34
- Let Me Play With Your Poodle (2:39) 6/2/42
- She Wants To Sell My Monkey (3:20) 6/2/42
- Why Should I Care? (3:26) 14/3/38
All songs written and performed by Tampa Red (vocals, guitar, electric guitar, piano, kazoo)
with Carl Martin (guitar, 17), Henry Scott (guitar, 16), Black Bob (guitar, 7, 10, 11?), Willie B. James (guitar, 2, 12, 13, 14, 20), Blind John Davis (piano, 3, 8, 15), Ransom Knowling (bass, 1, 3, 4, 6), Big Maceo Merriweather (piano, 1, 4, 6, 18, 19), Clifford 'Snags' Jones (drums, 18, 19), and others not known
All recorded in Chicago except tracks 2, 9, 11, 12, 14, 20, Aurora, Illinois