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Deep Ellum Rambler (MP3), MP3 (£7.99)
One of the best-selling of the Modern label's country blues stars of the 40s on CD for the first time in sparkling sound
Andrew 'Smokey' Hogg was one of the most popular of the post war Texas country blues artists. Born near Westconnie in East Texas in 1914 he grew up on the farm and was taught to play guitar by his father Frank Hogg.
While still in his teens he teamed up with a fine slide guitarist and vocalist, B.K. Turner aka Black Ace and the pair travelled together playing the turpentine and logging camp circuit of country dance halls and juke joints that surrounded Kilgore, Tyler, Greenville and Palestine in East Texas.
In 1937 Smokey and Black Ace were brought to Chicago by Decca Records to record, and Smokey had his first record (Family Trouble Blues/Kind Hearted Blues) released as Andrew Hogg in 1937. By the early 1940s Smokey was married and making a good living busking around the Deep Ellum area of Dallas.
Smokey was drafted in the mid-40s and after a brief spell with the US military, he continued working in the Dallas area where he was becoming well known. In 1947 he came to the attention of Herb Ritter, boss of the Dallas label Bluebonnet Records who recorded several sides with him and leased the masters to Modern Records.
The first release on Modern was the Big Bill Broonzy song Too Many Drivers and this racked up sufficient sales to encourage Modern Records to bring Smokey out to Los Angeles to cut more sides with their crack team of studio musicians. These sides included his two biggest hits, Long Tall Mama in 1949 and another Broonzy tune Little School Girl (#9 R&B in 1950).
Hogg's country blues style, influenced by Big Bill Broonzy, Peetie Wheatstraw and Black Ace was hugely popular with record buyers in the South during the late 40s and early 50s. He continued to work and record until the end of the 50s and died of cancer in 1960.
This 27 track CD contains Smokey Hogg's classic releases for Modern together with 10 wonderful unissued recordings from the 1940s. All have been mastered to Ace Records' highest standards of fidelity-.-and sound as fresh as if they had been recorded only yesterday, making this a welcome release for all fans of classic Country Blues.
By Ted Carroll