Saturday Single No. 116

Originally posted February 28, 2009

As February prepares to make its exit, today is my last chance (last chance when it makes any sense, that is) to take a look at songs recorded during our shortest month. A reminder: I have detailed discographical information for maybe five percent of the 34,000 mp3s in my collection, so this isn’t by any means a comprehensive look. But it should be fun.

The earliest identified February recording here is the “Four O’Clock Blues” by the Original Memphis Five, recorded for the Vocalion label in 1923. In February 1925, Trixie Smith, one of the great early blues singers, recorded “You’ve Got To Beat Me To Keep Me” for the Paramount label. Other February recordings in the 1920s include songs by the country-ish Earl Johnson and blues from Blind Lemon Jefferson. The busiest person, according to the evidence I have, was folk singer Bascom Lamar Lunsford, who, in Ashland, Kentucky, in February of 1928 (most likely on the same day or at least consecutive days) recorded “Dry Bones,” “Little Turtle Dove” and “Lost John Dean.”

The 1930s begin here with Robert Wilkins’ “I’ll Go With Her Blues,” recorded for the Brunswick label in 1930, possibly in Memphis. Other artists that show up in the decade in my list are Blind Joe Reynolds, the Kentucky Girls, the Dixon Brothers, Charlie Monroe’s Boys and the Holy Ghost Sanctified Singers, with their performance of “Jesus Throwed Up A Highway For Me,” recorded in Memphis for the Brunswick label in 1930.

I don’t find a lot from the 1940s, but there are records by Joe Turner with the Pete Johnson Allstars, Cousin Joe with Pete Brown’s Brooklyn Blowers, and the Ravens. On February 13, 1947, Hank Williams recorded “Honky Tonkin’” for MGM in radio station WSM’s Studio D in Nashville.

The 1950s bring recordings by Muddy Waters, Little Esther & Mel Walker with the Johnny Otis Orchestra, Nappy Brown, the Cochran Brothers, Little Terry, a work gang from a Texas prison, and “Bad Times” recorded for the Savoy label in February 1958 by Billy Hope & The Bad Men.

In February 1964, Mississippi Fred McDowell recorded fifteen songs near Como, Mississippi, fourteen of them solo and one with his wife, Annie. (These recordings were released with a few from another session as Mississippi Delta Blues on the Arhoolie label.) Other recordings I have from the 1960s include “Soldier Baby of Mine” by the Ronettes, also from 1964; “Who’ll Be The Man” by Tim Hardin (1966); “Two Days ’Til Tomorrow” by the Beau Brummels (1967); four 1968 tracks from the group called the 31st of February, a group that included Duane and Gregg Allman; and some Duane Allman solo tracks from 1969.

In the 1970s, we find a live 1970 performance of “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” by Elvis Presley, a 1970 outtake of “Jesus Is Just Alright” by Shelagh McDonald, and a 1974 performance of “Tutu Jara” by the Mandingo Griots in the African nation of Gambia. But we also have eleven tracks of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends performing on February 22, 1970, at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. (I found those recently on a forum I frequent.)

The 1980s bring recordings by Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Linda Thompson and Miriam Makeba. I have nothing from the 1990s, and only two known February recordings in the years since. Both are from Bob Dylan, released on his recent Tell Tale Signs collection.

Many of those tracks are intriguing, but the most interesting of the bunch, I think, is the live 1970 performance of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, especially since one of the friends on stage that evening was Eric Clapton. Here’s that night’s version of “Crossroads,” today’s Saturday Single.

“Crossroads” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends at the Fillmore West, February 22, 1970

(Thanks go to KKS at Groovy Fab)

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