The six remaining songs from the previously mentioned session ended up being released as an album called Harlem Blues (in those days an “album” was a set of 78s with one song on each side). Exactly how this came to pass is not clear; there seem to have been some music-business shenanigans involved. Josh White said he never thought these songs would be released:
We started at 2:00 AM and kept it up till 2:00 PM the next afternoon. We okayed several recordings and the rest were to be destroyed. Blue Note got new owners and they were sold and came out as my Harlem Blues album. And I’m not proud of it.
Be that as it may, Harlem Blues is well worth a listen. This upload has a lot of surface noise, which I guess lends authenticity; it’s easy to imagine that you’re listening to an 80-year-old 78, because you pretty much are.
Here are some suggestions for things to do during those 20 minutes:
- Compare/contrast the stripped-down version of “Careless Love” included here with the slicker Sidney Bechet version from the previous post.
- If you have a fine-tuned ear — which I don’t, really — see if you can hear how Josh’s hand injury has affected his playing, keeping in mind perhaps that three-fingered wonder Django Reinhardt.
- Watch this short film on “How Shellac Records Are Made” with the sound off: