Blues From The Avon Delta: The Matchbox Blues Story [Book]



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In 1967, the youthful, Bristol-based Saydisc label released its first country blues record, a 7” ‘LP’ by local trio, Anderson Jones Jackson. By 1968, it was helping three ‘pop-up’ DIY blues labels, Sunflower, Kokomo and Highway 51, to get to market. These were mere toes in the water and in mid-1968 Saydisc created the celebrated Matchbox label to release contemporary British country blues and LPs of classic pre-war US country blues, transcribed from mostly rare 78s. Matchbox also pressed the popular Austrian Roots label for the UK market before releasing contemporary American blues and many previously unreleased US Library of Congress recordings. Later came the Bluesmaster Series. All in all, Saydisc released well over 100 blues Lps between 1967 and 1987.

By 1968, blues was becoming increasingly popular in the UK, though the focus was mostly on electric blues bands. In July, however, Matchbox released the first LPof home-grown British country blues. The time was right and Blues Like Showers Of Rain made a big stir. John Peel played it on Night Ride and invited most of the artists up to London to record BBC sessions. The major labels picked up on the buzz and most of the artists were snapped up. Matchbox carried on the momentum over the next few years but eventually shut in July 1977. It returned in 1982 with the well-received Bluesmaster Series; this ambitious undertaking resulted in 38 single LPs and two double-LP sets. To turn full circle, Saydisc is currently making the whole Bluesmaster Series of LPs available digitally for new
generations to discover and enjoy.

Amongst other things, this book includes

Information on, and images of, every Saydisc-related, blues record (and one that got away) on all the aforementioned labels.

Memorabilia from multiple archives, much not seen since in decades (if ever)

Information on Saydisc’s affiliations with ‘Blues World’ and the influential ‘Blues Paperbacks’ series.


For blues readers, Blues from the Avon Delta is an excellent resource for LP reissue collecting, and it also tells the story of a significant British effort at curating vintage blues on reissues from the mid-1960s to the present day..… This is one of the best label discographies I have read in a long time, and I urge blues LP collectors to buy this book. Ed Komara, Association of Recorded Sound Collections Journal, USA. Vol. 53.1 (Spring 2022)

“Saydisc was the pioneer who started it all…. there were other companies that were there alongside Saydisc, but which for various reasons did not survive that long…. it was Saydisc that made an effort worthy of hero status in reissues.” Jefferson Blues Magazine (Sweden)

"Mark Jones's book chronicles the history of the Saydisc label and its series of 1920s and 1930s blues music CDs, itemising who did what and when, through the manufacturing process, the artists, the tracks and the sleeves. This is a hugely informative book that's been made possible with the help and input of the people who were there." Pete Clack, Blues In Britain Jan 2022

The story of the Bristol-based Saydisc label and its invaluable contribution to the promotion and preservation of country blues. There are ordinary books for collectors and there are extraordinary books for collectors. This book surely fits the latter category… traces in minute detail the birth of the Bristol-based Saydisc label and its subsequent role in the development of home-grown British country blues…. The amount of detail is simply phenomenal…. This fascinating history of Saydisc is written and catalogued by music historian Mark Jones and a fine job he does…. Without the Matchbox label (and especially the Bluesmaster Series) many pre-war US country blues and gospel artists would simply have faded into obscurity… The hard work involved in sourcing, compiling and cataloguing these blues collections is never fully appreciated and this book shines a light on one small company that does it so well. It is a remarkable story and one that deserves to be told.

Ian Lomax, JAZZ JOURNAL September 2021

Thoroughly researched, nicely written, profusely illustrated and well presented on quality glossy paper this, as well as providing a very useful discographical reference, is a lot of nostalgic fun, even for those of us 
who weren't around in the time and place it records. It effectively draws together the separate but linked stories of the folk/blues scene of the Bristol area in the 1960s with the history of Saydisc Records……

A good account of the background to all this local activity is given, well-illustrated with photos, labels, posters, family trees and other ephemera, a story that well deserves to be told. In A4 format, the whole thing is a pleasure to look at and to read.

Ray Templeton, BLUES & RHYTHM July 2021


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