Matchbox Bluesmaster Series Set 3: Country Blues & Harmonica Kings 1927-31
Volume 3 of the CD release of the iconic Matchbox Bluesmaster LP series from the 1980s with extensive notes from world authority on the blues, Paul Oliver.
The 42 LP albums that make up the iconic Matchbox Bluesmaster Series were released by Saydisc Records between Nov 1982 and June 1988. Most of the albums were subtitled “Complete Recordings in Chronological Order” with a few under the subtitle “The Remaining Titles” or “New to LP”. The originating 78 rpm records (many of them extremely rare) were provided by several collectors under the editorship of well known Austrian collector, Johnny Parth and were re-mastered by Hans Klement of Austrophon Studios in Vienna. Johnny Parth had already created his extensive Roots Records label which Saydisc distributed in the UK and the Matchbox Bluesmaster Series was a carefully sculpted edition of black blues roots music giving a broad spectrum of the genre. Saydisc has in its vaults many more pre-Bluesmaster blues albums which may be issued on CD in due course.
“All in all, great sets, which give a nice insight into early blues… the opportunity to get a peephole into a magical time” Jefferson Blues Magazine, Sweden
The third box in this reissue series proves just as invigorating as its confreres…. has plentiful variety, from harmonica to solo guitar and vocal, vocal duets and good old ‘Country Girls’…. The late Paul Oliver’s notes were always a wonderful addition to this series telling the reader everything necessary and known about the musicians and their backgrounds and songs. There’s much more to come in this sequence and much to relish here. Jonathan Woolf, Music Web International
“these are pure blues gold” (Pete Clack) Blues In Britain, November 21
“Putting this music into perspective are the masterful liner notes by respected blues historian Paul Oliver. They alone are worth the purchase….Saydisc say that they have in their vaults many more pre-Bluesmaster blues albums which may be issued on CD in due course. Let us hope so. The CD sets are available at a realistic price (£29.99) and the release of this important series for the first time on CD should appeal to serious blues collectors and also attract (hopefully) a new generation of early blues lovers.” Jazz Journal June 2021
“The latest set in the Matchbox Bluesmaster Series, like its two predecessors (link to review below), is taken from the 42 albums released by Saydisc between November 1982 and June 1988…The first disc is dedicated to harmonica players Noah Lewis and Jed Davenport, who recorded – both in a solo capacity and with various jug bands – in Memphis and Chicago…Texas Alexander freely mixes frank and explicit sexual innuendo with prison blues of a similarly unflinching nature: ‘Penitentiary Moan Blues’, for instance, describes the reddening of river water that results from convicts washing themselves in it after being beaten with the ‘Black Bettty’, a leather strap used as a punishment for the recalcitrant. Alexander has a somewhat cavalier approach to metre and verse structure, so the fact that he is accompanied by the doyen of blues guitarists, Lonnie Johnson, and by the similarly nimble and subtle Eddie Lang on his New York recordings is a great bonus; all in all, his seventeen tracks provide a fascinating glimpse of an unjustly neglected figure, a service for which this series as a whole is notable. Ramblin’ Thomas provides his own guitar accompaniment, and his poetic lyrics (Langston Hughes was a great admirer) deal with everything from restlessness and love trouble to legal problems (arrests for vagrancy) and struggles with alcohol and poverty. Like many another blues artist, he came to a sad, premature end, dying in the 1940s of tuberculosis, a death eerily prefigured here by his keening on ‘Sawmill Moan’, which (as Paul Oliver points out) nods to Victoria Spivey’s ‘T.B. Blues’…With this latest set of discs, the Matchbox Bluesmaster Series continues to perform a valuable service to early blues, unearthing fascinating nuggets from the pioneers of the genre.”Full review here - Chris Parker, London Jazz News