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Author Topic: the essential Tampa Red?  (Read 2371 times)

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Offline a2tom

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the essential Tampa Red?
« on: December 15, 2005, 05:34:27 AM »
Hey - I haven't listened to too much Tampa Red over the years, but would like to (given some great recent posts...).  Thing is, he was so prolific I've never been able to figure out where to really start (somethinge like 8 Document CDs of him, fairly daunting).  So, whaddya like?  What are the essentials?  I have an eMusic account, so I can cherry pick individual songs, not just whole CDs. 

tom

Offline Slack

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Re: the essential Tampa Red?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2005, 07:59:26 AM »
General recommendation - start with his Pre-war stuff.  Much of his postwar stuff has a LOT of kazoo and it gets very tiresome, in my opinion.  (But Miller, I love your kazoo.  :P )

Cheers,

Offline Great Bear

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Re: the essential Tampa Red?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2005, 09:06:34 AM »
There are actually 15 volumes on Document (even more if you count his work with others). As a bare minimum I would recommend getting:

The Bluebird Recordings 1934-36 (RCA)


The Bluebird Recordings 1936-38 (RCA)

Both of these double-disc collections are unfortunately out-of-print, but IMO feature Tampa's best and most innovative work. Get 'em when and where you see 'em. Steal if you have to.

Bottleneck Guitar 1928-37 (Yazoo)

And don?t forget Tampa's excellent recordings with Big Maceo (also available on RCA), although these are worth searching out for the quality of Maceo alone.

Offline blueshome

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Re: the essential Tampa Red?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2005, 09:22:39 AM »
If I were to recommend only one CD, it would be the Volume 3 of the Document series. It has everything from hokum to downhome blues, solos, duets and emsembles, including one non-slide piece - all from the early 30's, pre-kazoo.

For a general overview (1928-1940) then the Blues Collection CD- "The Story of the Guitar Wizard" is tremendous, with solo, duet,electric, band, kazoo, and Tampa on piano.

Phil

Offline uncle bud

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Re: the essential Tampa Red?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2005, 09:35:43 AM »
I don't know enough about the later stuff like the Bluebird recordings - have only recently started listening to those but really enjoy them.

For the earlier stuff:

The Yazoo is a good record, although it has only 14 tunes with several of them featuring other performers as the lead. Tampa was involved with a good number of other performers. There is a collection on Columbia which is a pretty nice intro to his earlier material called The Guitar Wizard. I can't remember being bothered by this one the way some other Columbia discs can bug me with their muffled "clean" sound. I like the Indigo release It Hurts Me Too: The Essential Recordings of Tampa Red. A good cross section of early stuff, instrumentals, later stuff like Black Angel and Anna Lou, and deeply serious blues like Let Me Play with Your Poodle...

Also for early stuff, the first 5 volumes of Document cover a lot of territory with many classics IMO.  :P  Actually not as silly as it sounds...

Edited to add: I guess things like Black Angel don't really qualify as later (1934?). They just seem that way to me. :)
« Last Edit: December 15, 2005, 10:48:58 AM by uncle bud »

Offline dj

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Re: the essential Tampa Red?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2005, 12:48:33 PM »
Quote
Much of his postwar stuff has a LOT of kazoo

If I'm not mistaken, Tampa started playing kazoo on record when he went to Bluebird in 1934.  Those two sets of Bluebird recordings mentioned above have a lot of kazoo on them.  And for a couple of years, starting in early 1936 and continuing almost through the end of 1938, Tampa Red's recording career took a strange turn:  About half of his output during that period was made up of pop songs recorded with his Chicago Five, and most of the rest was Leroy Carr styled stuff with Tampa on piano and usually Willie Bee James on guitar.  None of this stuff is bad, but he really didn't play a lot of great guitar during those years. 

A lot of Tampa Red's best guitar was played as an accompanist to other artists.  He accompanied everyone from Jim Jackson to Victoria Spivey to Big Maceo Merriweather.  Most of Big Maceo's Bluebird output is on the Juke and is well worth a listen.  Before WWII, Maceo and Tampa were recording mostly slower blues, like the absolutely beautiful County Jail Blues.  After the war, they were doing faster, tougher proto-R&B.  Check out Texas Stomp on the Juke for an example of this.   

Tampa Red had such a long and varied career that your best bet is to find a compilation that spans the 20 years from the start of his recording career in 1928 through around 1948.  Document had a 2 disk Essential Tampa Red.  Their web site lists it as being currently unavailable, though Amazon seems to have it in stock.  If I were just starting to investigate Tampa, I'd go with that.  For a single disk collection, I'd second Uncle Bud's recommendation of It Hurts Me Too.

Offline Slack

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Re: the essential Tampa Red?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2005, 01:18:52 PM »
Thanks David for setting me straight - a problem with generalizing from a bad memory! ;)

Offline dj

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Re: the essential Tampa Red?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2005, 01:30:01 PM »
Quote
Thanks David for setting me straight - a problem with generalizing from a bad memory!

Been there, done that.  Usually several times a day!  :D

I really just wanted to warn people that Red's kazoo appeared pretty early on.  And I agree with you, John, a little kazoo goes a LONG way.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: the essential Tampa Red?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2005, 01:52:07 PM »
Well, I've been listening to the Bluebird stuff in part because of this thread, and I quite like Tampa's kazooistry...

One thing that's interesting is how strummy he gets on the guitar in this period at times. The opposite of what one expects from classic Tampa, melodic single string stuff etc...

Offline a2tom

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Re: the essential Tampa Red?
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2005, 05:39:32 AM »
Been away from the computer for a few days and haven't had a chance to say thanks for the input.  In my earlier "random samplings" I was getting more hokum/kazoo that I can generally take - I now have a better insight how to find what I'm more interested in.

tom

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