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jazz & blues records

Big Bill Broonzy

Blues Singer Vol. 1 & 2

A key figure of the pre-war Chicago blues scene, Big Bill Broonzy was working as a janitor at the Iowa State University when he received the invitation to perform a series of concerts in France during the Summer of 1951. Presented to audiences as “The last living bluesman,” Big Bill Broonzy was actually one of the first blues musicians to visit Europe—after Lead Belly (1949) and Josh White (1950)—and he took this opportunity to reinvent himself as a “folk blues” artist, interpreting a perfect blend of old Southern themes, urban strains and spiritual songs.

In September, at the end of his Summer tour, Big Bill, accompanied by only his guitar, entered the studio in Paris to record Blues Singer Vol. 1 for Disques Vogue. These recordings stand out as it was the first time a new blues recording session appeared in LP form. Even more important was the music presented on this LP as it familiarized audiences with what has since been labeled “folk blues”. Broonzy’s singing, the sophistication of his elaborate picking technique, the poetic force of his lyrics all contributed to the propagation of blues music to a brand new audience.
Big Bill would return to the studios in 1952 during his second stay in Europe to record Blues Singer Vol. 2. For Broonzy, these two albums marked the beginning of a highly prolific period. As he continued touring Europe, he expanded his discography with numerous LPs recorded in Paris, but also in Antwerp, London, Brussels, Copenhagen, and Milan. His new career as a “country” troubadour had a rippling effect in the States where he was considered one of the leading figures of the folk music revival by the mid 1950s. As such, he influenced a whole generation of younger creators, including Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan.

-2 x 180g 12’’ LPs / 45-RPM
-Limited edition of 450 copies per album, hand-numbered
-Available exclusively on

Blues Singer vol. 1
Big Bill Broonzy: guitar, vocal.
Paris, September 20-21, 1951.
51V4106-1   A1   Blues in 1890 (Joe Turner Blues) (traditional)         3:36
51V4097     A2   The Moppin’ Blues (Big Bill Broonzy)                   3:35
unknown #   A3   Hollerin’ and Cryin’ the Blues (Big Bill Broonzy)      9:30
51V4105     B1   Make My Getaway (Big Bill Broonzy)                     3:48
51V4101-2   B2   Backwater Blues (Bessie Smith)                         4:38
51V4096-1   B3   In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down) (Leroy Carr)   4:43
51V4102-1   B4   Low Land Blues (Big Bill Broonzy)                      3:25
Original 10” LP issue: Vogue LD030, January 1952.

Blues Singer vol. 2
Big Bill Broonzy: guitar, vocal.
Paris, March 12, 1952.
52V-701-1   A1   Hey! Bud Blues (Big Bill Broonzy)                      3:06
52V-702-1   A2   Baby, Please Don’t Go (Big Joe Williams)               2:27
52V-706     A3   Down by the Riverside (traditional)                    3:03
52V-708     A4   Kind Hearted Blues (Big Bill Broonzy)                  3:24
52V-709-1   B1   Louise, Louise Blues (Johnnie Temple)                  4:14
52V-705     B2   Letter to My Baby (Big Bill Broonzy)                   3:09
52V-707     B3   Stand Your Test in Judgment (traditional)              2:53
52V-702     B4   Do Right Blues (Big Bill Broonzy)                      3:13
Original 10” LP issue: Vogue LD072, 1953.

Original recordings supervised by Hugues Panassié for Disques Vogue.
Audio restoration and mastering by François Lê Xuân.
Lacquers cut by Kevin Gray, Cohearent Audio.
Cover illustration by Pierre Merlin.
Reissue produced and manually screen printed on Velin d’Arches paper
by François Lê Xuân and Fred Thomas for Sam Records/Saga.
Special thanks: Carolina Sanchez Boe, Karen M. Boe, Dominique Cravic, Sebastian Danchin, Martin Davies, Laure Fabry, Gérard Herzhaft, Jacques Ribières, Daniel Richard, Agnès & Gérard Thémines, Bfm de Limoges.