A SHORT CUT TO THE GRAVE 1924-1942 (4CD)
Papa Charlie Jackson, Peg Leg Howell, Leroy Carr, Bob Campbell, Lewis Black, Ma Rainey, Bukka White, Funny Papa Smith, Jim Jackson, Bessie Mae Smith, Charley Patton, Blind Teddy Darby, Furry Lewis, Mooch Richardson, Ed Bell, Blind Blake & many more
Another inspired collection of pre-war blues from one of JSP’s go-to men when it comes to blues collecting, Neil Slaven.
These 100 tracks have been selected and compiled in accordance with the theme of this collection, those things most associated with sin and wrong-doing; specifically gambling, alcohol and drugs, prison and death.
The title of this collection comes from the penultimate track here by Bill Gaither, the lyrics of which include ‘When I was single, I was not a slave. But since I’ve got married, it’s a short cut to the grave’ and, as you might expect, many of the causes of ‘the things that get you in the end’ are directly or indirectly associated with the problems being experienced with the opposite sex.
Across each of the four themed CDs, there are 25 great blues sides from well-known and barely-heard of names. So, for every Leroy Carr, Memphis Minnie or Charley Patton included, you also get a Bob Campbell, George ‘Bullet’ Williams or Jenny Pope. Even if you already have a good number of CDs containing artists (and maybe, songs) included here, it is highly likely that there are plenty more of the rare sides enclosed to tickle your interest.
Not of course that there is anything wrong with taking on board again artists or tracks you have already heard or have in your collection. For me, it was a real pleasure to re-acquaint myself with Peg Leg Howell’s Skin Games Blues, a track I had all but grown up with but (to my shame) I cannot recall the last time I actually heard it. Same with Bukka White’s boisterously ragged but beautiful Strange Place Blue.
Of the tracks that were new to me (or at least I don’t recall if and where I might have heard them before), Bill Johnson’s Jug Band’s Don’t Drink It In Here is a shambolic delight and Death Of The Gambler by Black Spider Dumplin’ is a new favourite.
Whatever your own scorecard would read between what you already have and know on this collection, there can’t be a pre-war blues lover anywhere that wouldn’t want this - another contender for the Best Country Blues Album In The World Ever perhaps?
Review Date: June 2014