Charlie Patton High Water Everywhere, Pt 1

Charlie Patton High Water Everywhere, Pt 1

High Water Everywhere, Pt. 1

Charley (or Charlie) Patton (c.1891-1934) is nowadays seen as the most important pioneer of the Mississippi Delta style of rural blues, with his hoarse, shouting vocals offset by subtle and rhytmically complex guitar accompaniment. In his day a popular local entertainer rather than a big-selling national star, his records (on the Paramount label of Grafton, Wisconsin) did not find a wider audience until the 1960s, when they were rediscovered by blues collectors and reissued on LPs on the specialist labels Origin Jazz Library and Yazoo. Beyond their intrinsic musical qualities, Patton's records intrigued listeners because of their rarity and their high level of surface noise, due to Paramount's poor quality pressings. This, combined with Patton's repertoire, which included blues, gospel, country dance tunes and ragtime material, made his records sound "older" than other blues recordings of the time, leading to descriptions of him as founder of the Delta blues, grandfather of rock'n'roll, etc.. In fact he was older than many blues singers who recorded in the same era, and inspired younger singers with whom he came into contact, notably Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker.

In the 1960s and '70s Patton was less well-known to non-specialist listeners than Robert Johnson, a much younger singer whose work was anthologised by Columbia/CBS on an LP entitled King of the Delta Blues Singers. For many years Johnson's short, tragic life epitomised the popular image of the Mississippi blues singer, yet in 2001 the importance of Charley Patton's work was acknowledged by the release of a box set, Screamin' and Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton, including his complete recorded works together with tracks by his contemporaries and by later blues artists whom he influenced. His posthumous fame is also marked by an extensive Wikipedia entry.

Charley Patton - Spoonful Blues (Delta Blues 1929)

Charley Patton - Spoonful Blues (Delta Blues 1929)

Spoonful Blues

Links to Peel

Peel did not feature Charley Patton tracks in his late 1960s radio programmes, despite the "blues boom" which peaked around 1968 and the appearance of tracks by other pre-World War Two Mississippi artists (Tommy Johnson, Robert Wilkins) in Night Ride playlists. However, Patton tracks were played by Peel's Radio 1 colleague Mike Raven, who always included country blues items in his weekly R & B show. Later, in the 1980s, Peel played tracks from the Yazoo Records double LP Founder of the Delta Blues. But it was not until the release of Screamin' and Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton that Patton tracks began to appear regularly in his programmes.

The first Patton biography, published in 1970, was based on the M.A. thesis of Peel favourite John Fahey, who described it as "a textual and musicological analysis" of the singer's work. The box set mentioned above was issued on Revenant Records, the label founded by Fahey. Charley Patton also influenced other Peel favourites, from Howlin' Wolf and Captain Beefheart (both of whom owe obvious debts to Patton's singing style) to the White Stripes' Jack White.

Festive Fifty Entries

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Other Shows Played

(All plays from 7xCD box set Screamin’ And Hollerin’ The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton (Revenant) unless otherwise indicated.)

External Links

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