Various: Matchbox Bluesmaster Set 12 – Blues Like Showers of Rain

With its twelfth set Matchbox turns to the British country-blues scene of the 1960s and 1970s and artists such as Mike Cooper and Jo-Ann Kelly


All the previous Matchbox Bluesmaster sets have concentrated on pre-war recordings (studio and field) made in the USA, but the series now turns its attention to the British blues scene of the mid-60s to the mid-70s. Whilst the electric blues boom of the mid-60s (Clapton, Mayall etc) is well documented, the acoustic country-blues scene is less so. This set traces the remarkable work of the Bristol-based Saydisc label and its role in the development of homegrown British country blues.

In 1967, Saydisc released its first country-blues record, a seven-inch LP by local trio Ian Anderson, Alun Jones and Elliot Jackson. By 1986, it was helping three “pop-up” DIY blues labels – Sunflower, Kokomo and Highway 51 – to get to market. In 1968, Saydisc created the Matchbox label with the objective of releasing material by contemporary British country-blues artists as well as LPs of classic pre-war US country blues.

By 1968, the UK blues boom was in full swing, albeit with more attention given by the major labels to electric blues bands. In July 1968, Matchbox released the country-blues album Blues Like Showers Of Rain to positive acclaim. It featured a collection of British artists including Dave Kelly, Mike Cooper, Ian Anderson, Jo-Ann Kelly among others. John Peel played it on his Night Ride radio show and several artists were subsequently invited to record BBC sessions.

The British blues phenomenon did eventually run out of steam and Matchbox folded in 1977. Thankfully, it returned in 1982 to concentrate on classic pre-WWII US blues and created the Bluesmaster label. All-in-all, it is thought that Saydisc released over 100 blues albums between 1967 and 1987, as well as promoting homegrown country-blues talent. It made Bristol the epicentre of the UK’s DIY blues record label industry, no small achievement for a label that most music fans have never heard of.

It’s a fascinating story that continues today with the digital release of the entire Bluesmaster Series of LPs, including this uniquely British set. This album will appeal to all blues fans (especially those with a soft spot for British blues) as well as many folk enthusiasts.

CD1: Blues Like Showers Of Rain (40.01) 
CD2: Blues Like Showers Of Rain (33.32)
CD3: The Inverted World (41.00)
CD4: Blues Miscellany: Searchin’ The Desert For The Blues (72.00)
CD5: Hokum Miscellany: Selling That Stuff (61.00)
CD6: Ragtime and Miscellaneous: The Nail Breaker (66.00)
CD1: Dave Kelly (v, g); Jo-Ann Kelly (v, g); Panama Limited Jug Band; Mike Cooper (v, g); Ian Anderson (v, g); Simon & Steve (v, hca, g); The Missouri Compromise.
CD2: Simon & Steve (v, g, hca); Frances McGillivray (v); Little Brother Dave (v, g); John James (g); Steve Rye (cs); Panama Limited Jug Band; John James (g).
CD3: Mike Cooper (v, g); Ian Anderson (v, g); Chris Turner (hca); Al Jones (v, g); Elliot Jackson (hca); Noel Sheldon (jug).
CD4-6: Dave Peabody (v, g, hca, kazoo); Dave Griffiths (v, b violin, mandolin); Hugh McNulty (v, b); Jon Wash (pc); Nick Picket (v); Steve Rye (hca); Bob Hall (p); Bill Short (pc, washboard).
No recording dates or venues given.
Matchbox Blues Series Set 12 MSESET12