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Author Topic: Tommy McClennan--Keys/Positions for his Songs  (Read 10619 times)

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Offline dj

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Re: Tommy McClennan--Keys/Positions for his Songs
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2007, 12:15:29 PM »
Listening to the 1997 Bluebird reissue, which sounds great, both Petway and McClennan sing on "Boogie Woogie Woman".  McClennan sings first, with Petway doing vocal asides.  Then Petway sings a verse right before the first instrumental break.  After the break, McClennan sings a verse, there's another break, Petway sings a verse, and they go out with another break, at the end of which McClennan sings "Have the boogie woogie blues".  Petway does all the vocal asides during the instrumental breaks.  At least that's how I hear it.  Petway's voice is a bit deeper and raspier (you wouldn't think it possible!) than McLennan's.

The parts where it sounds like Petway is saying "Tom", he's really saying "time".  After the first time through the boogie pattern in the first break, Petway says "Now one time buh... You know boogie woogie on bass now one time, boogie woogie on bass."  But his diction is incredibly slurred.  In the first phrase, it sounds like he wants to say "Now one time bass", but for some reason doesn't get the entire last word out.
 
I think the sound on all those Bluebird reissues is fantastic.  I still mourn the fact that I didn't get around to getting the two Big Maceo disks before they went out of print.  And the fact that, though it was announced several times, the disk of Blind Willie McTell's Victor recordings never came out.   

Offline Johnm

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Re: Tommy McClennan--Keys/Positions for his Songs
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2007, 03:54:14 PM »
Hi Bunker Hill,
I don't have the Document McClennan CDs, but here's what Neil Slaven's liner notes to the JSP set say with regard to "Boogie Woogie Woman":
   . . ."But in February, 1942, both men were in Chicago to cut eight-song sessions, McClennan's first and then Petway.  Two of Petway's songs, "Hard Working Woman" and "Ar'nt Nobody's Fool" remain unissued to this day, while "Boogie Woogie Woman", on which McClennan takes the vocal, remains their only collaboration."
After re-listening to "Boogie Woogie Woman", I think dj has it right--both Petway and McClennan sang, though I believe Petway is the sole guitarist, because you can hear some of his pet very fast runs in G which occur with frequency on his other titles in that key. 
I wonder if some of the vocal asides in "Boogie Woogie Woman" are, in fact, Ransom Knowling's?  The exchange immediately prior to his taking the bass solo sounds like a guitarist and bass player going back and forth.
Incidentally, I agree with dj that the sound on this re-issue set is just great.  You can hear everything with clarity.  It's quite a treat.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 26, 2007, 11:06:03 PM by Johnm »

Offline CF

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Re: Tommy McClennan--Keys/Positions for his Songs
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2008, 01:28:32 PM »
At the Fort Valley Music Festival page there is a recording of 'Bottle It Up & Go' by an Allison Mathis. Interestingly he sings Tommy's infamous 'N****r & the white man playing Seven-Up' verse & even says the surprised 'Wha?!' that Tommy sang in his studio version. Pretty funny.

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?ftvbib:1:./temp/~ammem_DJZf::
« Last Edit: February 01, 2008, 06:40:06 PM by cheapfeet »

bighollowtwang

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Robert Petway
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2008, 03:01:22 PM »
Robert Petway and Tommy McClennan are kind of inseparable to me, so I figured I'd add this here (sorry I don't know how to format everything into a tidy table):

Catfish E (actual key: G#)
Ride Em On Down D (F#)
Rockin Chair G (B)
My Little Girl G (A)
Let Me Be Your Boss G (A)
Left My Baby Crying G (A)
Sleepy Woman Blues G (A)
Don't Go Down Baby G (A)
Bertha Lee G (C)
Hollow Log G (C)
In The Evening G (C)
My Baby Left Me G (B)
Cotton Picking Blues G (B)

Seems that unlike McClennan, Petway avoided the key of C. Also he doesn't seem to have ever recorded anything without a capo.

Corrections welcomed!

Offline CF

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Re: Tommy McClennan--Keys/Positions for his Songs
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2008, 06:39:16 PM »
Been listening to Petway from the JSP Big Joe Williams set . . . what a pleasure to finally hear 'Catfish Blues' after only reading about it for almost 15 years . . . I wish he would have changed keys/positions a bit more as that reoccuring lick he plays out of a 'G' position wears when you listen to all his recordings in one sitting . . . still really great, spirited performances tho'.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Tommy McClennan--Keys/Positions for his Songs
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2008, 12:09:08 AM »
Hi bighollowtwang,
Good work!  I don't see any need for corrections.  What you came up with sounds dead on the money, though I didn't check absolute pitch on the cuts. 
As you suggest, cheapfeet, Petway comes very close to being a one trick pony, with eleven out of thirteen cuts in G position in standard tuning, but it was a hell of a trick he had!  What very strong playing and singing, but better heard as isolated cuts rather than all in a row (as is almost anyone's work).  "Bertha Lee" is sensational.  Considering how little time Petway spent in the studio, it is sobering to think "Catfish" might not have been recorded at all.  I remember having the same feeling when I found out that of all the cuts Rev. A. C. Forehand and Blind Mamie Forehand recorded, "Honey In The Rock" was the only one to feature Mamie's singing--she could have been missed altogether, and I think "Honey In the Rock" is in the tiny category of music I've heard that I would describe as celestial.  Her singing on that cut just breaks my heart.  But I digress.
All best,
Johnm   

 


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