August 9, 2016

Blues and Rhythm Show 235 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, August 9th (1:00 to 2:30pm)


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Fifteen months ago  we presented a 90-minute special following the death of B.B. King at the age of 89. At the time, we weren’t aware that the Japanese P-Vine label was preparing a comprehensive box set making available all of B.’s recordings for the Bihari Brothers’ Modern-RPM-Kent companies. That set has just been made available. Its full title is The Complete RPM-Kent Recording Box: The Life, Times and the Blues of B.B. King. The box contains 17 CDs, According to P-Vine the box includes all the B.B. King singles, album tracks, alternate and incomplete takes, including 100 songs premiered in the box, 10 of them completely unreleased, as well as what P-Vine calls “session scenes” with successive takes of several numbers plus the attendant studio talk. In the box, there is also an LP with rare material from the B.B. King catalogue plus Charles Sawyer’s biography of B.B. KIng in a Japanese translation. The 56-page booklet details the tracks on every disc but there is no complete session discography. The booklet does include lyric transcriptions by Chris Smith and appreciations from various figures in the blues field. A further attraction of the booklet is the selection of photos by Ernest Withers. Much, but not all, of the booklet’s text has been translated to English from the original Japanese.

Our feature on the box will include A & B sides from the singles issued by RPM and Kent between 1951 and 1961. Some well-known titles but several that aren’t well-known.

The greater part of the 17 CDs is made up of the album tracks, alternate takes and never issued material and we’ll work that material into the show over time. Some of these tracks are organized by theme while others are organized chronologically on discs titled “B.B.’s Blues Revolution”, Phase 1 – 4. There’s a complete disc of “session scenes” on the disc “B.B. in the Recording Studio”. The CDs are housed in cardboard sleeves and each CD has a soft protective liner.

It would be hard to argue that there is a greater figure than B.B. King in post-World War 2 blue and most of his great recordings were made for Modern-RPM-Kent but not many people will opt to buy a 17-CD set and the Complete RPM-Kent Recordings is a limited edition. A four-CD set on Ace (UK) called The Vintage Years remains in print and it is an excellent survey of B’s recordings for the Bihari Brothers labels.

Still, the publication of the P-Vine set is something of a momentous occasion even if the packaging is less sturdy than we might have anticipated and we thought we should devote some attention to it on the program.

Also on the program, Bluegrass Gospel, Gospel Funk and Sacred Steel.

The Complete RPM-Kent Recording Box 1950-1965

On the Show:

B.B. King – Louis Jordan – T-Bone Walker – Marshall Lawrence Band – Stewart Family – Brother John Witherspoon – and others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton, live on Cogeco Cable 288 or on CFMU online at cfmu.msumcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or download until September 6th.

Contact Us:

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (August 16th)

The Document label.


November 18, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 156 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, November 18th, (1:00-2:30 pm)

First part of this weeks show is a mix of blues and R&B, with hints of rockabilly and country. Track from Nova Scotia’s Chris Martin Trio, Memphis Slim, St. Louis piano players. Second part of the show a selection of gospel, including sacred steel, singing preachers, something from Denise LaSalle’s gospel album.

On the Show:

Memphis Slim – Midnighters – Chris Martin Trio – Washboard Sam – Speckled Red – Fathead – Sonny Treadway – King Louis Narcisse – Drexall Singers – Denise LaSalle

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until December 17th.

Contact Us

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (November 25th)

We have ideas but nothing yet like a plan.


November 25, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 107 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

When we were considering how this week’s program might take shape, we had several albums in mind to start from. One of these was a recent Arhoolie CD called Jumps Boogies & Wobbles on Arhoolie by HowellDevine. It turns out that this is the first new “blues” CD Arhoolie has issued in twenty five years. We’d never have guessed that was the case but it appears that it’s true. Arhoolie has repackaged much of its blues catalogue on CD and added to the original LP playlists material from the sessions that didn’t make it to LP, but Chris Strachwitz’ label hasn’t been recording new blues for years. This revelation inspired us to devote most of this program to the Arhoolie label. The occasion of the HowellDevine album seemed like a good time to take a look at one of the great traditional and roots music labels.

Arhoolie Records has been active in its 50-plus years documenting blues, old time and bluegrass music, cajun and zydeco, Mexican and norteno, and, in recent years, indigenous music from various countries in the world. We can’t go too far into the Arhoolie catalogue in a single program and we’ll be looking mostly at the blues Arhoolie recorded and most of that from the label’s first decade. From the documentation of earlier blues styles, Chris Strachwitz moved to urban electric music from Chicago, Texas, and the West Coast. Arhoolie captured a good deal of essential blues music in the early years (as well as reissuing older recordings from 78s and 45s on  Blues Classics and Arhoolie compilations) but Strachwitz may have judged that it was safe to leave the blues field to others and concentrate his label’s resources on other forms of traditional music. In the mean time, Arhoolie’s blues catalogue remains essential listening, and much, if not most, of it is available on CD, while Arhoolie has also held on to and kept available diminishing stocks of many of its LPs.

On the Show:

HowellDevine – Blind James Campbell – Big Joe Williams – Sam Chatmon  – Elizabeth Cotten – Johnny Young – Bee Houston – Sonny Treadway – and others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until December 24th.

Contact Us

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (December 3rd)

Undetermined as of today. We might devote the program to our long-threatened survey of Nashville blues, R&B and soul. We’ll update in this space.

Errors and Omissions

We mixed up a couple of CDs when we were preparing last week’s program (BRS 106). We intended to play a jubilee style piece, the Deep River Boys’ “Im Tramping”, from 1945, off disc A of one 4 CD set but the CD in the case was disc A from another 4 CD set and the track we played was the obscure Silvertone Quintet’s “Stand By Me”, from 1958. We couldn’t identify the track properly on the air.


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