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Ain't Times Hard - Political And Social Comment In The Blues [4 CDs]
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Description After 1927’s disastrous Mississippi floods, the American Red Cross raised $17 million to be distributed among the victims. Food distribution was free for whites but their black neighbors had to pay – in the ‘Red Cross’ stores that were opened. Plantation owners were worried that their workforces wouldn’t return, so some men were detained in concentration camps. Others were used for forced labor and there was a persistent threat that they could be drafted into the army. Things wouldn’t get much better for the rest of the 1930s. The hardships of the era became the inspiration of many famous Blues songs. In July 1933, Walter Roland recorded two versions of Red Cross Blues, one with piano accompaniment, the other with guitar. The texts followed roughly the same versus, in which the singer tells his woman he’s reluctant to visit the store: ‘I told her, “No. Great Lord.” Said, “Woman, I sure don’t want to go. Do I have to go to Hill’s? ‘Cause I got to go to that Red Cross Store”.’ Lucille Bogan gave the woman’s view in her Red Cross Man and Roland’s sometimes partner, guitarist Sonny Scott recorded two versions of Red Cross Store over the next three days, along with Coal Mountain Blues. The following month, Walter Davis cut his own radically different blues on the same topic. ‘Uncle Sam’s flag is painted, painted red, white and blue. So if the Red Cross won’t help us, what in the world is we going to do,’ he sang, ‘My little children was screaming, crying “Papa, we ain’t got no home”. The Red Cross has cut us off, man, and left us all alone.’

Soon, there was another problem, covered by the Mississippi Sheiks in Sales Tax. It was a humorous response to the addition of three cents to the price of most essentials.

FDR was elected president in 1932 and over the next few years set up a New Deal that merely elaborated on existing schemes. They went by a number of names that turned up in a welter of blues songs. There was the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Opinion amongst blues singers was split, some welcomed them, and others decried their consequences. Walter Roland approved: ‘You know that CWA, they’ll pay you nine-sixty a week. You don’t have to worry about that Welfare, something to eat.’ On the other hand, if any suffering was to be done, the white population wouldn’t be doing it, as Casey Bill Weldon’s WPA Blues showed. His landlord comes to his door one day: ‘He said, “You have to move if you can’t pay”. And the he turned and he slowly walked away. So I have to try to find me some other place to stay. That house-wrecking crew is coming from that WPA’. Alliteration didn’t dilute the message.
Track Listing
Disc 1
Labor Blues - Tom Dickson
No Dough Blues - Blind Blake
Down and out Blues - Scrapper Blackwell
Starvation Blues - Big Bill Broonzy
Bad Time Blues - Barbecue Bob
Miss Meal Cramp Blues - Alec Johnson
Shelby County Workhouse Blues - Hambone Willie Newbern
We Sure Got Hard Times - Barbecue Bob
Levee Camp Man Blues - Gene Campbell
Hard Times on Me Blues - Andy Chatman
Tough Times Blues - Charley Jordan
Northern Starvers Are Returning Home - Bo Carter & Charlie McCoy
Hard Times Done Drove Me to Drink - Leroy Carr
Starvation Blues - Charley Jordan
Hard Time Blues - Charley Spand
Chain Gang Bound - Bumble Bee Slim
Days of the Weeks Blues - Charley Jordan
Times Has Done Got So Hard - King Solomon Hill
Hard Time Blues - Carrie Edwards
The Depression Blues - Leroy Carr
Turpentine Blues - Tampa Red
Hard Time Blues - Scrapper Blackwell
DeKalb Chain Gang - Fred McMullen
Hard Time Blues - Buddy Moss
Red Cross Blues - Walter Roland

Disc 2
Red Cross Man - Lucille Bogan
Coal Mountain Blues - Sonny Scott
Red Cross Blues, No. 2 - Walter Roland
It's Hard Time - Joe Stone
R.F.C. Blues - Jack Kelly
Red Cross Blues - Walter Davis
Sales Tax - Mississippi Sheiks
Welfare Blues - Joshua White
C.W.A. Blues - Walter Roland
Starvation Farm Blues - Bob Campbell
Charity Blues - Charlie McCoy
Sylvester and His Mule Blues - Memphis Minnie
Providence Help the Poor People - Big Joe Williams
Meat and Bread Blues - Blind Teddy Darby
Hard Time Blues - Lane Hardin
Let's Have a Good Deal - Carl Martin
Bonus Blues - Joe Pullum
W.P.A. Blues - Casey Bill Weldon
When I Get My Bonus - Peetie Wheatstraw
When I Get My Money - Bumble Bee Slim
I'm Gonna Have My Fun - Carl Martin
Jungle Man Blues - Peetie Wheatstraw
When the Sodliers Get Their Bonus - Red Nelson
W.P.A. Blues - Big Bill Broonzy
Don't Take Away My P.W.A. - Jimmie Gordon

Disc 3
Hobo Jungle Blues - Bumble Bee Slim
New Red Cross Blues - Frank "Springback" James
Working for the P.W.A. - Black Ivory King
Government Money - Sleepy John Estes
Working on the Project - Peetie Wheatstraw
Hobo Jungle Blues - Sleepy John Estes
Hard Times Ain't Gone No Where - Lonnie Johnson
I Have Spent My Bonus - Robert Lee McCoy
Relief Blues - Red Nelson
Unemployment Stomp - Big Bill Broonzy
304 Blues - Peetie Wheatstraw
Old Bachelor Blues - Son Bonds
Welfare Blues - Calvin Frazier
Back in My Cell Again - George Curry
Welfare Blues - Speckled Red
C.C.C. Blues - Washboard Sam
Welfare Blues - Sampson Pittman
'29 Blues - Alfred Fields
Charity Blues - Gene Gilmore
Four-O-Three Blues - Lonnie Johnson
Warehouse Man Blues - Champion Jack Dupree
Nothing in Rambling - Memphis Minnie
Hobo Blues - Yank Rachell
Stamp Blues - Tony Hollins
Hard Times Is on Me - Ollie Shepard

Disc 4
Keep Straight Blues - Guitar Slim & Jelly Belly
Red Cross Store Blues - Terry & McGhee
Working Man Blues - Guitar Slim & Jelly Belly
Post-War Future Blues - Cousin Joe
Shipyard Woman - Jim Wynn
Living in a Different World - Roosevelt Sykes
Reconversion Blues - Ivory Joe Hunter
Sunny Road - Roosevelt Sykes
Bonus Pay - Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson
Luxury Tax Blues - Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson
Unemployment Blues - Smokey Hogg
Hard Times - Smokey Hogg
Stockyard Blues - Floyd Jones
High Cost Low Pay Blues - Ivory Joe Hunter
Homeless Blues - Willie "Long Time" Smith
Inflation Blues - Jack McVea
Strike Blues - L.C. Williams
Strike Blues - John Lee Hooker
Cotton Picking Blues - Big Mama Thornton
Ain't Times Hard - Floyd Jones
Tough Times - John Brim
Depression Blues - Clarence "Gatormouth" Brown
The Panic's On - Jimmy McCracklin
Things Are So Slow - J.B. Hutto
Eisenhower Blues - J.B. Lenoir
Audio Samples Labor Blues - Tom Dickson
No Dough Blues - Blind Blake
Down and out Blues - Scrapper Blackwell
Starvation Blues - Big Bill Broonzy
Bad Time Blues - Barbecue Bob
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Label JSP
Number 77109
Subsidiary Artists: Tom Dickson
Blind Blake
Scrapper Blackwell
Big Bill Broonzy
Barbecue Bob
Alec Johnson
Hambone Willie Newbern
Gene Campbell
Andy Chatman
Charley Jordan
Bo Carter & Charlie McCoy
Leroy Carr
Charley Spand
Bumble Bee Slim
King Solomon Hill
Carrie Edwards
Tampa Red
Scrapper Blackwell
Fred McMullen
Buddy Moss
Walter Roland
Lucille Bogan
Sonny Scott
Joe Stone
Jack Kelly
Walter Davis
Mississippi Sheiks
Josh White
Bob Campbell
Memphis Minnie
Big Joe Williams
Blind Teddy Darby
Lane Hardin
Carl Martin
Joe Pullum
Casey Bill Weldon
Peetie Wheatstraw
Bumble Bee Slim
Carl Martin
Red Nelson
Jimmie Gordon
Frank Springback James
Black Ivory King
Sleepy John Estes
Lonnie Johnson
Robert Lee McCoy
Son Bonds
Calvin Frazier
George Curry
Speckled Red
Washboard Sam
Sampson Pittman
Alfred Fields
Gene Gilmore
Champion Jack Dupree
Yank Rachell
Tony Hollins
Ollie Shepard
Guitar Slim & Jelly Belly
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
Cousin Joe
Jim Wynn
Roosevelt Sykes
Ivory Joe Hunter
Eddie Cleanhead Vinson
Smokey Hogg
Floyd Jones
Willie Long Time Smith
Jack McVea
L.C. Williams
John Lee Hooker
Big Mama Thornton
John Brim
Clarence Gatemouth Brown
Jimmy McCracklin
J.B. Hutto
J.B. Lenoir
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