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Angola Prisoners' Blues - Various Artists

CAT. #: 419

Price: $15.00

CD 419

Among the 3800 convicts in the desolate flatland of the prison farm at Angola, Louisiana, there were a surprising number of talented performers. Several of them were recorded and interviewed by folklorist Dr. Harry Oster between 1952 and 1960, and some of this material was originally issued on his Folklyric label. These are raw, powerful, largely improvised personal blues stories, as well as traditional songs. This CD features many previously unreleased items including the haunting monologue from Roosevelt Charles which ends the record, as well as unreleased tracks by women singers Odea Mathews, Clara Young and Thelma Mae Joseph.
All previously unreleased, except 1 - 7 which were on Arhoolie LP 2011

1. Prisoner's Talking Blues - Robert Pete Williams
2. Stagolee - Hogman Maxey
3. Electric Chair Blues - Guitar Welch
4. Black Night Is Fallin' - Hogman Maxey
5. Some Got Six Months - Robert Pete Williams
6. I'm Gonna Leave You Mama - Guitar Welch
7. I'm Lonesome Blues - Robert Pete Williams
8. Angola Bound - A Capella Group
9. Worried Blues - Hogman Maxey
10. Josephine - Guitar Welch
11. Soldier's Plea - Clara Young
12. Moon Is Rising, The - Odea Mathews
13. I'm Still In Love With You - Thelma Mae Joseph
14. I Miss You So - Vocal Group
15. Hello, Sue - Butterbeans
16. Fast Life Woman - Hogman Maxey
17. Careless Love - Otis Webster
18. Have You Ever Heard The Church Bells Tone - Roosevelt Charles/Otis Webster
19. 61 Highway - Guitar Welch
20. Strike At Camp I - Roosevelt Charles



“Blues doesn't get more authentic than this.... Odea Mathews echoes Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey in a surprisingly delicate voice while her sewing machine keeps time. Thelma Mae Joseph brings a bleak, desolate quality to her warbling of the pop tune 'Since I Fell for You' while the prison laundry machines rumble away behind her. But the star of the stunning set is unquestionably murderer Robert Pete Williams. This disc starts with his 'Prisoner's Talking Blues,' a rambling rumination on the state of his health and the deprivation of his family. Williams lightly strums Oster's guitar under this grim, unself-conscious monologue, climaxed by his breaking into sullen song: 'Sometimes I feel like committing suicide.'”

(Joel Selvin — San Francisco Chronicle)