Big Joe Williams, Big Joe Williams And The Stars Of Mississippi Blues

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Tough and turbulent songs from one of the nastiest acoustic-guitar stranglers ever.

The first two volumes of this five-album box feature 1935-51 tracks by the corrosive nine-string guitarist and singer best known for "Baby, Please Don't Go" (there are two versions here, and he re-cut it often). He's backed by such luminaries as Henry Townsend, the first Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Lee McCoy (Robert Nighthawk). Few bluesmen got closer to the African pulse than Big Joe. His fast, hard and percussive style made him one of the nastiest acoustic guitar-stranglers ever, while his roughhouse vocals heightened the effect. Other highlights are the rollicking "Somebody's Been Borrowing That Stuff" and his first recording of his pounding "49 Highway Blues," a perennial that he also revisited several times.