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Del played tougher than a boiled owl, and I still pity the fool what's got to follow her on to the stage. She sang prettier than many a woman with a guitar known primarily for their voice. Her original instrumental, Wobbly Walk, inspired by chapters 16-18 (Debbs and Socialism) of Howard Zinn's classic People's History of the United States is a hoot and conjures up a Chaplanesque Bo of old, IWW card fresh in hand, struttin' his stuff - Mr O'Muck review, Opera House gig somewhere off the mainland, Maine, USA

Author Topic: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"  (Read 597 times)

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Offline banjochris

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SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« on: March 23, 2016, 10:00:11 PM »
For this month?s Song of the Month, I?ve chosen ?Sloppy Drunk Blues.? It?s a favorite tune of mine and it?s a bit unusual in that it seems to work well both at a slow tempo and as an intense, fast number. The lyrics have a directness and simplicity that make them easy to remember and the lyrics don?t vary tremendously in most versions of the song.

The song has been recorded quite a few times (of course drinking is a popular subject) and I?m including here all the ones I know of ? I?ve only transcribed the lyrics of the versions I really like!


The first recorded version, and to me one of the two definitive versions, was recorded by Lucille Bogan (as Bessie Jackson) in March 1930 in Chicago, with Charles Avery on piano. It was issued on Brunswick, Banner, Melotone, Oriole, Perfect and Romeo (the flip side was the equally great ?Alley Boogie"). The other two records from this session were only released on Brunswick so the company must have thought this was a good one.

Composer credit on the Perfect issue says ?James? ? there?s no copyright on the tune by anyone of that name (at least not on Harry Fox), so I see no reason to think that Ms. Bogan didn?t come up with this one on her own.

This is a slow number with a matter-of-fact delivery from Bogan and beautifully understated piano accompaniment by Avery. The melody is not unlike ?Goin? to Brownsville? and seems like it would be well-suited for guitar.




I?d rather be sloppy drunk, than anything I know.
I?d rather be sloppy drunk, than anything I know,
And another half a pint, will see me go.

I love my moonshine whiskey, better than I do my man,
I love my moonshine whiskey, better than I do my man,
You can have your beer in your bottle, give me my cool kind can.

I?d rather be sloppy drunk, sittin? in the can.
I?d rather be sloppy drunk, sittin? in the can,
Than to be at home, rollin? with my man.

Mmmmm, mmmmm, bring me another two-bit pint,
Mmmmm, mmmmm, bring me another two-bit pint,
?Cause I got my habits on, I?m going to wreck this joint.

I been on this sloppy drunk, for a solid year,
I been on this sloppy drunk, for a solid year,
And when I can?t get my whiskey, bring me my cool can beer.

My good man?s quit me, for somebody else,
My good man?s quit me, for somebody else,
And now I?m sloppy drunk, drinkin? by myself.



Six months later, on Sept. 9, 1930, Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell recorded the song, also in Chicago. It was a natural subject for Carr, of course, and lyrically it?s almost a word-for-word cover, adjusting for gender. There?s some nice bass work by Blackwell in the solo; it?s a nice uptempo version, but the best was yet to come.




I?d rather be sloppy drunk, than anything I know.
I?d rather be sloppy drunk, than anything I know,
And another half a pint, mama will see me go.

I love my moonshine whiskey, better than a tootie loves a man,
I love my moonshine whiskey, better than a tootie loves a man,
You can take your beer in a bottle, give me my cool kind can.

SOLO

I?d rather be sloppy drunk, sitting in the can.
I?d rather be sloppy drunk, sitting in the can,
Than to be out in the street, runnin? from the man.

Mmmmm, mmmmm, bring me another two-bit pint,
Mmmmm, mmmmm, bring me another two-bit pint,
?Cause I got my habits on, and I?m going to wreck this joint.

My gal?s done quit me, for somebody else,
My gal?s done quit me, for somebody else,
Now I?m sloppy drunk mama, sleepin? all by myself.


The next cover version is more of an ?answer song? - ?I?m Still Sloppy Drunk,? sung by Ruth Willis with two of Curley Weaver, Buddy Moss and Fred McMullen playing guitar. My guess is McMullen and Moss. (PS John, this number might make a good puzzler!)

This is a great, great version, taken at a similar tempo to Bogan?s. Recorded New York, Jan. 17, 1933 and released on the same labels as Bogan?s, except for Brunswick.



I?m still sloppy drunk, never to be sober no more,
I?m still sloppy drunk, never to be sober no more,
?Cause I want my man to work me, like a baker do his dough.

Gonna get sloppy drunk, let everybody I see,
Gonna get sloppy drunk, let everybody I see,
And stop my man, from jivin? every woman he meet.

Come on daddy-ee, let?s get sloppy drunk again,
Come on daddy-ee, let?s get sloppy drunk again,
When I gets a evil mind, I won?t see another man.

Gonna get drunk again, buy me a six-bit quart
Gonna get drunk again, buy me a six-bit quart,
You get the brew, and I?ll get the malt.

I got drunk last night, and the night before,
I got drunk last night, and the night before,
If I gets over this, I won?t get drunk no more.

I?d rather be sloppy drunk, than feelin? like I do,
I?d rather be sloppy drunk, than feelin? like I do,
The man treats me so bad, I feel like a darned old fool.


Walter Davis recorded the song as ?Sloppy Drunk Again? in February 1935 with Joe Williams and Henry Townsend on guitars. This is, to me, the second definitive version, and also one of the greatest ever blues records. It was Walter Davis? first appearance on piano (his previous records had him singing with Roosevelt Sykes playing). No doubt Davis would have said he got the number from Leroy Carr but, as with everything, he makes it all his own. The lyrics are here: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=6739.msg77490#msg77490




Bumble Bee Slim recorded the song in July 1935 with piano and guitar very much in the Carr mold. Meh.




And a final pre-war recording in 1941 by the real Sonny Boy with Blind John Davis and Ransom Knowling. This version is also modeled after Carr?s and nothing particularly special but I have to admit I have a big soft spot for Sonny Boy I.




I?m going to put the couple of post-war performances I want to share in a separate post. Any help with the bracketed lyrics much appreciated!
Chris

Edited 3/25 with lyrics corrections from JohnM
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 10:32:55 AM by banjochris »

Offline banjochris

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  • Posts: 1998
Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2016, 10:02:43 PM »
Here are a few post-war recordings of ?Sloppy Drunk,? arranged in the order in which I enjoy them. The first two are pretty close in terms of quality, I must admit.

First, Henry Townsend?s version from his Cairo Blues album:




Then a great early ?60s take from Big Joe Williams (from the ?Shake Your Boogie? album, he recorded it quite a few times)



Followed by Big Joe at home in the 1970s (actual video!)




There are quite a few other recordings out there, notably the Jimmy Rogers version on Chess, but I?ll let others find and post them and ones I haven?t come across. Enjoy!

(One footnote ? the Sleepy John Estes ?Sloppy Drunk? from the 1960s is his ?Milk Cow Blues? and is a different song altogether.)

Chris

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2016, 07:02:45 AM »
Great choice of song! I know you've already got SBW I in there, but I'm quite fond of this later, post-war recording he made with Davis and Knowling with the additional personnel of Judge Riley and Big Bill under the title "Bring Me Another Half A Pint." I feel like its just got a bit more going for it that the '41 recording:


Offline banjochris

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  • Posts: 1998
Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2016, 08:36:48 AM »
Great choice of song! I know you've already got SBW I in there, but I'm quite fond of this later, post-war recording he made with Davis and Knowling with the additional personnel of Judge Riley and Big Bill under the title "Bring Me Another Half A Pint." I feel like its just got a bit more going for it that the '41 recording:

Agreed, that's a nice version!

Online Johnm

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Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2016, 10:38:16 AM »
Hi Chris,
I'm really enjoying your choice for song of the Month and the versions you've found.  Several are new to me.  It strikes me that the Lucille Bogan/Charles Avery version may have served as the musical model, especially in the piano, for Little Brother Montgomery's "Vicksburg Blues".  And didn't Rosie Mae Moore do a song with that very same melody (what song it is is not coming to my mind right now)?
In the Leroy/Scrapper version, I do think you have "tootie" right in the second verse, but I think each of the first two lines of that verse ends with "loves her man".  I love that trucking rhythm that Leroy and Scrapper gave the song.  In the Ruth Willis version, I think the parenthetic bit might be "BUY me".  Ruth Willis was certainly fortunate in her accompanists, wasn't she, and not just on this song!
Thanks for transcribing the lyrics you did, and I'm looking forward to listening to the other versions you and Pete have posted.
All best,
Johnm

« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 11:25:22 AM by Johnm »

Offline harry

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Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2016, 01:37:10 PM »
Great topic Chris. I love this song.

J.B. Hutto And The Hawks with a rocking version on Pete Welding's Testament Label (Masters of Modern Blues).
One of my favorite electric blues records.




Alan Wilson with a haunting version.

« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 01:39:04 PM by harry »

Offline banjochris

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  • Posts: 1998
Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2016, 03:13:25 PM »
It strikes me that the Lucille Bogan/Charles Avery version may have served as the musical model, especially in the piano, for Little Brother Montgomery's "Vicksburg Blues".  And didn't Rosie Mae Moore do a song with that very same melody (what song it is is not coming to my mind right now)?
In the Leroy/Scrapper version, I do think you have "tootie" right in the second verse, but I think each of the first two lines of that verse ends with "loves her man".  I love that trucking rhythm that Leroy and Scrapper gave the song.  In the Ruth Willis version, I think the parenthetic bit might be "BUY me".  Ruth Willis was certainly fortunate in her accompanists, wasn't she, and not just on this song!

There's definitely a resemblance to "Vicksburg" in the piano and melody, John. I'm inclined to think that there's some unheard progenitor to both though, esp. only about 6 months separated the recordings of the Bogan "Sloppy" and the first record of "Vicksburg" and Little Brother's version is different and elaborate enough that I doubt he evolved it that quickly (Avery's in E-flat and Montgomery played "Vicksburg" in F, for instance). That tune and "44 Blues" is a whole Song of the Month right there.

And thanks for the lyrics fixes, I agree with both of those!
Chris

Offline harriet

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Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2016, 05:23:17 AM »
Thanks for the topic, enjoying going through these.

Harriet

Offline blueshome

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Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2016, 05:59:51 AM »


Jimmy Rogers with Little Walter et al. This rocks!
Jimmy was a renowned poacher of songs.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2016, 11:39:36 AM »
Really enjoying all these versions (at  least, those that are available to viewers in Scotland)!

Offline bnemerov

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Re: SOTM - March 25, 2016 - "Sloppy Drunk Blues"
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2016, 05:04:06 PM »
Chris wrote:
"There's definitely a resemblance to "Vicksburg" in the piano and melody, John. I'm inclined to think that there's some unheard progenitor to both though, esp. only about 6 months separated the recordings of the Bogan "Sloppy" and the first record of "Vicksburg" and Little Brother's version is different and elaborate enough that I doubt he evolved it that quickly (Avery's in E-flat and Montgomery played "Vicksburg" in F, for instance). That tune and "44 Blues" is a whole Song of the Month right there."

I agree, Chris. The 44s was a piano piece among the Louisiana and Mississippi players in the early 1920s. Little Brother claims to have developed it (with its peculiar bass figure,  largely missing from Bogan's recording, and the treble fill that rocks from the 1 to the 4 and back) with a couple of other piano players. Long Tall Friday was one and I don't remember the other pianist he cited, but how can you forget a name like Long Tall Friday?

Anyway, Montgomery was pissed off when Roosevelt Sykes made a record of the 44s (under the title "44 Blues") in 1929; before Little Brother got his (superior) "Vicksburg" down the following year. The piano part--regardless of any lyric grafted on--was a test piece in the 1920s. If you couldn't play that "grumbling" bass and the independent left and right hand rhythms, might as well go home.

Montgomery was interviewed a lot. Paul Oliver and some others spent a bit of time with him. [The wonderfully descriptive "grumbling" is Oliver's word, I believe.]
 
best,
bruce