Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Best of the Mississippi Sheiks

The Mississippi Sheiks were one of the most popular string bands of the late '20s and early '30s. Formed in Jackson around 1926, the band blended country and blues fiddle music -- both old-fashioned and risqué -- and included guitarist Walter Vinson and fiddler Lonnie Chatmon, with frequent appearances by guitarists Bo Carter and Sam Chatmon, who were also busy with their own solo careers. The musicians were the sons of Ezell Chatmon, uncle of Charlie Patton and leader of an area string band that was popular around the turn of the century. The Mississippi Sheiks (who took their name from the Rudolph Valentino movie The Sheik) began recording for Okeh in 1930 and had their first and biggest success with "Sitting on Top of the World," which was a crossover hit and multi-million seller. In fact, the song became a national standard and has been recorded by Howlin' Wolf, Ray Charles and many more. The Mississippi Sheiks' popularity peaked in the early '30s, and their final recording session happened in 1935 for the Bluebird label. By the end of their career, the prolific and influential string band had recorded well over 60 songs, including the successful "Stop and Listen." ~ Joslyn Layne

Sony Legacy's remastered update of its out of print 1992 Mississippi Sheiks retrospective
sounds much better than its predecessor. Astonishingly, all 20 sides come from between 1930 and 1931. The Sheiks, who appeared in many configurations, were always represented by Walter Vinson (Jacobs) on vocals and guitar and Lonnie Chatmon on fiddle. But here their ranks are added to on numerous selections by either Bo Carter (Chatmon) and Sam Chatmon as well as Texas Alexander. All but two sides here were recorded for the OKeh label ("Please Don't Wake It Up" and the classic "I've Got Blood in My Eyes for You" were recorded for Columbia). While all the titles have been released previously, they've never been issued with sound quality this fine. Tracks include Sheiks favorites such as "The Jazz Fiddler," "Seen Better Days," "Honey Babe Let the Deal Go Down," "Your Good Man Caught the Train and Gone," and the amazing "Bootlegger's Blues." For punters seeking a single volume, this is it; for those seeking an introduction to some of the greatest string band blues ever recorded, look no further.~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

01. Still I'm Traveling On
02. Please Don't Wake It Up
03. Stop and Listen Blues No. 2
04. Sitting on Top of the World
05. The Jazz Fiddler
06. Seen Better Days
07. Driving That Thing
08. Bed Spring Poker
09. When You're Sick With the Blues
10. I've Got Blood in My Eyes for You
11. Things About Comin' My Way
12. Livin' in a Strain [#]
13. Last Stage Blues
14. Frost Texas Tornado Blues
15. Your Good Man Caught the Train and Gone
16. Unhappy Blues
17. Honey Babe Let the Deal Go Down
18. Ramrod Blues
19. West Jackson Blues [#]
20. Bootlegger's Blues

Sam Chatmon (Guitar, Vocals), Walter Vinson (Guitar, Vocals), Alger "Texas" Alexander (Vocals), Bo Chatmon (Violin, Vocals), Lonnie Chatmon (Violin).



  1. My name is Julian and I am a Singer Songwriter, I have always loved Bo's work... check this cover out

    I was wondering if anyone who reads this might be down to do a cover album of some of his lesser knows work ?

  2. Muy "tranki" y muy bonita tu versión...