Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sloppy Drunk Blues

Carr was the most influential male blues singer and songwriter of the first half of the 20th century, but he was nothing like the current stereotype of an early bluesman. An understated pianist with a gentle, expressive voice, he was known for his natty suits and lived most of his life in Indianapolis. His first record, "How Long — How Long Blues," in 1928, had an effect as revolutionary as Bing Crosby's pop crooning, and for similar reasons. Previous blues stars, whether vaudevillians like Bessie Smith or street singers like Blind Lemon Jefferson, had needed huge voices to project their music, but with the help of new microphone and recording technologies, Carr sounded like a cool city dude carrying on a conversation with a few close friends.

...although Carr died of an alcohol-related illness shortly after his 30th birthday, what made him a key figure in American music was his records, not his lifestyle. His followers dominated blues for more than 20 years and affected every aspect of the African-American pop scene.

-from elijahwald.com, originally printed in the New York Times.

Mp3s from Leroy Carr: Complete Recorded Works 3 (1930-32):

New How Long, How Long Blues, Part 2
Sloppy Drunk Blues
Hard Times Done Drove Me To Drink

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