Scrapper Blackwell: Mr. Scrapper’s Blues

Producer – Kenneth S. Goldstein
Recorded By, Liner Notes, Photography By, Producer – Arthur Rosenbaum*
Remastered By – Joe Tarantino
Vocals, Guitar – Francis “Scrapper” Blackwell* (tracks: 1 to 3, 5 to 10)

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Description

Tracklist
A1 Goin’ Where The Monon Crosses The Yellow Dog
Written-By – Scrapper Blackwell*
A2 Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
Written-By – Jimmie Cox*
A3 “A” Blues
Written-By – Blackwell*
A4 Little Girl Blues
Vocals, Piano – Francis “Scrapper” Blackwell*
Written-By – Blackwell*
A5 George Street Blues
Written By – Blackwell-Carr
Written-By – Carr*, Blackwell*
B1 Blues Before Sunrise
Written-By – Leroy Carr
B2 Little Boy Blues
Written-By – Blackwell*
B3 “E” Blues
Written-By – Blackwell*
B4 Shady Lane
Written By – Blackwell-Carr-Franklin
Written-By – Franklin*, Carr*, Blackwell*
B5 Penal Farm Blues
Written-By – Blackwell*

Samples

Listen to audio samples at Amazon.

Press

These solo recordings, made in July 1961 in Indianapolis, mark the return of the great country-blues guitarist who retired from the music scene in 1935 following the death of his close friend and partner, pianist Leroy Carr. Blackwell’s distinctive, steely toned fingerstyle technique, involving aggressive string-snapping and a complex ragtime-influenced system of integrating single-note lines and chords, is best exemplified on the instrumental pieces titled simply “A Blues” and “E Blues.” He also provides sophisticated accompaniment behind his tortured vocals on pieces like “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” “Blues Before Sunrise,” “Little Boy Blue” and “Penal Farm Blues.” And for a change of pace he tickles the ivories in compelling fashion on “Little Girl Blues.” — Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times Review, Jan/Feb, 2002


Blackwell, it’s not always remembered, was rediscovered in the late 1950s, though he didn’t have much chance to make a new career out of the blues revival before his death a few years later. He performs well, but not wonderfully, on this July 1961 session in Indianapolis, accompanied only by his guitar (although he uses piano on one song, “Little Girl Blues”). His guitar playing is in better shape than his vocals, and, in fact, his instrumental work is sparkling on tunes like “Blues Before Sunrise,” where the pacing and alternation of chords and single-note runs is immaculate. The instrumental “‘A’ Blues” is also a standout in its tradeoffs between high and low notes. It’s mostly blues of a slow and deliberate, if varied, pace, though “Little Boy Blues” picks up the mood into a charging, swinging rhythm. — Richie Unterberger, AllMusic Review

Online Reviews

Guitarist Scrapper Blackwell was, with his partner Leroy Carr, one of the most popular blues performers of the early 1930s. However, with the death of Carr in 1935, Blackwell’s career faltered, and he lived quietly in Indianapolis until white blues enthusiasts located him in the late 1950s. The result was a handful of recordings, mainly on obscure labels, before he was murdered in 1962.

This session, recorded in July 1961 on top quality equipment, is one of the finest in the whole Bluesville catalogue, and its belated appearance on CD should be a cause for rejoicing amongst all acoustic blues fans. Blackwell is in peak form throughout, both vocally and instrumentally.
His guitar style is a complex one, swinging but blues drenched, and combining strong chordal work and single string runs. He was an inventive self – accompanist, voice and guitar complementing each other superbly on tracks such as “Penal Farm Blues”. Equally effective on this CD is Blackwell’s vocal work: his voice is gentle, slightly hoarse and immensely weary, combining beautifully with strongly poetic and original lyrics. His blues verses tell a coherent story in a logical and sequential way: not for him the apparently arbitrary selection of random blues verses favoured by some blues singers.

Tracks 3 and 8 are impressive guitar instrumentals, whilst track 4 features Blackwell’s piano playing, competent but unremarkable. The remainder of the tracks are vocal blues with guitar accompaniment. Highlights include the wonderful “Shady Lane”, and a poignant version of “Down & Out”, while “Little Boy Blue” is a delightfully playful rendition of the nursery rhyme.
Recommended unreservedly for all lovers of acoustic guitar blues. — B.D. Tutt/Amazon Review

See all Amazon Reviews.