Written and first recorded by Merle Travis (1946).
Other hit versions by Johnny Desmond (US #17 1955),Tennessee Ernie Ford (US #1/C&W #1/UK #1 1955), Frankie Laine (UK #10 1956).
Also recorded by The Weavers (1955), B.B. “Blues Boy” King and His Orchestra (B-side 1956).
From the wiki: “‘Sixteen Tons’ was written in 1946 by Merle Travis about a coal miner, based on life in the coal mines of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. First recorded in Hollywood, CA, in 1946, ‘Sixteen Tons’ was released in July 1947 by Capitol on Travis’s album Folk Songs of the Hills, widely regarded as one of Travis’ finest achievements. The album became a gold record.
“According to Travis, the lyric from the chorus, ‘another day older and deeper in debt’, was a phrase often used by his coal miner father. This, and the line ‘I owe my soul to the company store’, are a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers that could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay. In the United States the truck system and associated debt bondage persisted until the strikes of the newly formed United Mine Workers and affiliated unions forced an end to such practices in the 1960s.
First recorded by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (R&B #1 1945).
Other hit versions by Erskine Hawkins (US #12/R&B #2 1945), Woody Herman & His Orchestra (US #2 1945), James Brown (US #95 1964).
Also recorded by Champion Jack Dupree (1967), B.B. King (1971).
From the wiki: “‘Caldonia’ is a jump-blues song, written by Louis Jordan (but crediting his then-wife, Fleecie Moore, for tax-evading purposes) and first recorded in 1945 by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five. The lyrics may have been inspired by a real character: a tall Crescent City drag queen wearing oversized shoes.
“A cover version by Erskine Hawkins (‘Tuxedo Junction‘), also released in 1945, was described by Billboard magazine as ‘rock and roll’, the first time that phrase was used in print to describe any style of music. Woody Herman and his orchestra also covered ‘Caldonia’ in 1945, arranged by the young Neal Hefti, with Herman singing the lead vocal.
First recorded by “Pinetop” Sparks (1935).
Also recorded by Memphis Slim (1949).
Hit versions by Lowell Fulson (R&B #3 1950), Joe Williams (R&B #8 1952), B.B. King (R&B #8 1955), The Count Basie Orchestra with Joe Williams (R&B #2 1955).
From the wiki: “‘Every Day I Have the Blues’ is a Blues song that has been performed in a variety of styles. An early version of the song is attributed to Pinetop Sparks and his brother Milton (or Marion), and was first performed in the taverns of St. Louis by the Sparks brothers. It was first recorded on July 28, 1935 by Pinetop with Henry Townsend on guitar. After a reworking of the song by Memphis Slim in 1949 (see below), ‘Every Day’ became a Blues standard with renditions recorded by numerous artists.
“Four different versions of ‘Every Day I Have the Blues’ have reached the R&B Top 10. Two recordings – one by B.B. King, and one by Count Basie with Joe Williams – have received Grammy Hall of Fame Awards. Williams first recorded and charted ‘Every Day’ for Chess in 1952 with the King Kolax Orchestra before re-recording the song again in 1955 with the Basie orchestra, a version that spent twenty-weeks on the R&B chart.
First recorded by Roy Hawkins (R&B #6 1951).
Other hit version by B.B. King (US #15/R&B #3 1969).
From the wiki: “‘The Thrill Is Gone’ was written by West Coast Blues musician Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell in 1951. Hawkins’ recording of the song reached #6 in the Billboard R&B chart in 1951. In 1970, “The Thrill Is Gone” became a major hit for B.B. King.
“In the late 40s and early 50s, King was a disc jockey at radio station WDIA, Memphis, and it was there he first heard (and played) the Hawkins original. King decided to produce his own recording of ‘The Thrill is Gone’ in 1969, but was unhappy with the results until producer Bill Szymczyk called King late one night to suggest adding orchestral strings to the song’s arrangement. The song’s polished production and innovative use of strings marked a departure from both the original song (and previous Blues recordings, in general) and King’s earlier recordings.
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