Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee: Sing

Vinyl reissue with bonuses of the duo's Folkways album reminds how much heat and drive they could create with just guitar, voice and harmonica


This is a reissue on 180gm vinyl of the original Folkways album plus two bonus tracks, which exemplifies exactly what Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee represented in terms of the Piedmont blues style. Despite their antagonism towards each other, which would flare up both on and off stage, they certainly had total empathy when it came to performance and this led to a huge popularity on the blues and folk circuits around the world.

They frequently collaborated in the composing department, although as can be heard on this disc, they would always be happy to incorporate such superior songs as John Henry in their act. It should also be noted that despite using only acoustic instruments, they could generate a high degree of heat and drive, of which we have examples on Sing.

Their voices gelled beautifully, Brownie’s guitar work relatively simple but highly effective and Sonny’s harmonica invariably expressive. They were, in fact, the perfect blues-duo, who, despite the serious nature of most of their subject material, were capable of a touch of humour and no little warmth.

It’s nice to see this material available again in this format, offering a new generation exposure to two great artists.

(1) Better Day; Confusion; Dark Road; John Henry; Make A Little Money; Old Jabo; (2) Diggin’ My Potatoes; (1) If You Lose Your Money; Guitar Highway; Heart In Sorrow; Preachin’ The Blues; Can’t Help Myself; Best Of Friends; Boogie Baby; (3) Cornbread, Peas And Black Molasses (51.03)
(1) Terry (hca, v); McGhee (g, v); Gene Moore (d). New York, November 1957/early 1958.
(2) omit McGhee but add Lightnin’ Hopkins (g); Leonard Gaskin (b); Belton Evans (Samuel “Sticks” Evans) (d). New Jersey, 26 October 1960.
(3) as (1) but London, 8 May 1958.
Blues Joint 8005