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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Cream Of The Crate CD Review #24: Various Artists – Encyclopedia of Boogie Woogie



cream of the crate cd review #24: various artists – encyclopedia of boogie woogie
Box Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]

  This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.

"Jitterbuggers would dance to windshield wipers if nothing else was available." - (Woody Herman)

Cream Of The Crate Reviews 1 to 50 were vinyl album reviews.  
The following fifty reviews (51 - 100) were originally marked as CD Reviews 1 - 50
and this numbering has been kept to keep consistency with the published CD reviews.

This is
number twenty four in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of CD’s in my personal collection.

The series is called, “Cream of The Crate (CD’s)”, and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

This weeks review is yet another boxed set and one that is a reasonable cost. It is a great example of how music has been pulled together from a genre to provide a collection that may very well have never existed except for the technology associated with CD’s.

Certainly CD’s are fast becoming redundant in the face of downloading direct or streaming.

Yet they continue, along with vinyl LP’s, to remain part of a true collectors arsenal because both these formats represent a mechanism by which producers can package music together in a way the average individual would find difficult.

This is a two CD set in a boxed set titled “Encyclopedia of Boogie Woogie” and was distributed on the Dejavu Retro label by Proper records (UK) in 2002, as part of the Gold Collection releases (R2CD 42-25).

cream of the crate cd review #24: various artists – encyclopedia of boogie woogie
CD Label – [CLICK to enlarge]


I have to say that the presentation of the “Gold series” is good. The box while made from cardboard, is well made and the finish is excellent.

The black background of the picture is dimpled, the photograph (as obviously old as it is) has been nicely restored and the gold lettering of the “Dejavu Retro Gold Collection” gives it a distinctly classy look. the box cover is repeated on the CD case cover.


cream of the crate cd review #24: various artists – encyclopedia of boogie woogie
Box Set Spine – [CLICK to enlarge]


Now the accompanying booklet is good but not great!

cream of the crate cd review #24: various artists – encyclopedia of boogie woogie
Booklet Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]


It looks nice and has a good selection of rare pictures of artists who drove this genre of music. It also has the complete track listing of both CD’s at the rear.

cream of the crate cd review #24: various artists – encyclopedia of boogie woogie
Rear of the Booklet – [CLICK to enlarge]


It does have some nice quotations about the various artists, but, it does not give any form of biographical info on the artists, and not even a brief history of Boogie Woogie, probably needed for most people born post 1960.

So it does lack for that additional material and when you pay in the mid thirty dollar range, it is reasonable to expect that attention to detail.

So, for those readers born post 1960, here is material derived directly from a website that deals with boogie woogie.

“Early Boogie Woogie recordings are the unequivocal first recorded examples of what was later called “Rock and Roll.” Consequently, Boogie Woogie has been rightfully called the “Father of Rock and Roll.” Indeed, the influence of Boogie Woogie on Rock-and-Roll and popular music worldwide is greater than that of Blues in general. Put another way, Boogie Woogie can be regarded as the kind of Blues that has had the most influence on popular music throughout the world.

Despite numerous examples that could be cited, the breadth and depth of Boogie Woogie’s influence over space and time is generally not well known. By failing to recognize the extent of the influence of Boogie Woogie and by not giving credit to those who created Boogie Woogie, false historical accounts have been promoted (often unknowingly) that dishonor those African Americans who created Boogie Woogie in dangerous environments that literally put their lives at risk. For example, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s persistence in promoting the false claim of Jimmy Yancey as “the progenitor of Boogie-Woogie piano” disrespects the very people that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame purports to honor.

The main areas where it first appeared were in Texas in the Piney Woods region where there were many lumber camps. And they used to have a barrelhouse there for entertaining their work force. Now, to this barrelhouse came itinerant pianists, particularly at weekends when they were relaxing – lots of drink, lots of dancing, lots of whoring going on, and I have heard that often people were killed, so there were pretty exciting times down there. It eventually moved into Chicago, St. Louis, and other urban areas because of the mass migration of African families, because of the poorer situation in the South, and the pianists went with them.” [The Boogie Woogie Foundation]

A picture is often said to save a thousand words. Two or so minutes of music can reveal what pictures and words can never do. So, let’s have a look at who is actually featured on these CD’s.

CD #1

1. Pinetop Smith – Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie
2. Cow Cow Davenport – Cow Cow Blues
3. Montana Taylor – Detroit Rocks
4. Blind Blake
 & Charlie Spand – Hasting Street
5. Speckled Red – The Dirty Dozen No 2
6. Meade “Lux” Lewis – Honky Tonk Train Blues
7. Cleo Brown – Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie
8. Little Brother Montgomery – Farish Street
9. Meade “Lux” Lewis – Mr. Freddie Blues
10. Albert Ammons – Boogie Woogie Stomp
11. Count Basie – Boogie Woogie
12. Benny Goodman – Roll ‘Em
13. Tommy Dorsey – Boogie Woogie
14. Meade “Lux” Lewis – Bear Cat Crawl
15. Joe Turner
 & Pete Johnson – Roll ‘Em Pete
16. Bob Crosby – Yancey Special
17. Jimmy Yancey – Yancey Stomp
18. Albert Ammons – Suitcase Blues
19. Cripple Clarence Lofton – I Don’t Know
20. Harry James & 
Pete Johnson – Boo Woo

CD #2

1. Harry James
 & Albert Ammons – Woo Woo
2. Bob Zurke – Honky Tonk Train Blues
3. Jimmy Yancey – Rolling The Stone
4. Pete Johnson – Barrelhouse Breakdown
5. Earl Hines – Boogie Woogie On St. Louis Blues
6. Woody Herman – Chip’s Boogie Woogie
7. Pete Johnson – Death Ray Boogie
8. Pete Johnson
 & Albert Ammons – Barrelhouse Boogie
9. Pete Johnson & 
Albert Ammons – Sixth Avenue Express
10. Count Basie – Basie Boogie
11. Jay McShann – Hold ‘Em, Hootie
12. Andy Kirk – Boogie Woogie Cocktail
13. Lionel Hampton – Tempo’s Boogie
14. The Ink Spots & 
Ella Fitzgerald – Cow Cow Boogie
15. Albert Ammons – The Boogie Rocks
16. Louis Jordan – Caldonia Boogie
17. Arthur Smith – Guitar Boogie
18. Sammy Price – Boogie With Big Sid
19. T-Bone Walker – T-Bone Boogie
20. Big Maceo – Chicago Breakdown

Pinetop Smith is a name that would be known by lovers of Boogie Woogie and with good reason.

Pinetop (real name Clarence) was born in 1904, and was dead by the age of twenty five from a gunshot wound. However, in his short career as a pianist he wrote and recorded Pine Tops Boogie Woogie.

It was one of the first “boogie woogie” style recordings to make a hit, and which cemented the name for the style. Pine Top talks over the recording, telling how to dance to the number.

Pinetop Smith


The lyrics contain some fascinating elements.

“Brand new number, folks, called Boogie Woogie!
It’s a funny little song.

Now, when I tell you to hold it, I don’t want you to move a thing.
And when I tell you to get it, I want you to Boogie Woogie!

Hold it!

Now, Boogie Woogie!

When I tell you to hold it this time, I don’t want you to move a peg.
And when I tell you to get it, I want you to mess around!
Or something!

Stop now!

Now, mess around!

I want that gal with the red dress on, any kind of dress will do, to come over here and stand by this piano.
Now, when I tell you to hold it, I don’t want you to move a muscle.
And when I tell you to get it, I want you to shake that thing!
Or something!

Hold it!

Now, shake that thing!”

OK, did you read them? What do you see? He wants us to “mess around“. It’s also the first reference to “a gal with a red dress on“. He has us “shake that thing“!

Now where do you hear those lyrics years later? Go check out Ray Charles.

Pine Tops Boogie Woogie

Track #2 by Cow Cow Davenport is worthy of a mention.

When I first heard the track Cow Cow Blues many many years ago, I was immediately drawn to it. Before looking at the track, a little background on Cow Cow Davenport.

Cow Cow Davenport is remembered most for his famous song “Cow Cow Blues“.

Recorded in 1928 it is one of the earliest recorded examples of the Boogie-Woogie or Barrelhouse, as it’s sometimes called.

Davenport learned to play piano and organ in his father’s church from his mother who was the organist and it looked like he was going to follow in the family footsteps until he was expelled from the Alabama Theological Seminary in 1911 for playing Ragtime at a church function. Born in 1894 he died in 1955 of heart problems in Cleveland.

Cow Cow Davenport


In 1953, “Cow Cow Blues” was an influence on the Ahmet Ertegün written “Mess Around” by Ray Charles.

Now this track was Charles’ first step away from his Nat “King” Cole -esque style, and into the style he would employ throughout the 1950s for Atlantic Records.

What is very interesting is the tie-in between Pinetop Smith and Cow Cow Davenport. Remember it was Smith who first used the phrase ‘mess around’ in his track reviewed above. This term was later picked up and used by Charles, and then along comes Davenport who is influenced by the Charles track, Mess Around.

It is a rollicking ‘barrel-house’ type boogie woogie piano that he thumps out both with passion and enjoyment.

Cow Cow Blues


My third and final track to share from CD #1 is by Joe Turner and Pete Johnson. Track #15Roll ’em Pete.

This track features a classical boogie woogie piano style from both players but behind it all, we realise that Joe Turner is in fact, better known as Big Joe Turner.who went on to record some amazing R&B material and features heavily on Atlantic records.

Now Pete Johnson was, according to Journalist Tony Russell, one of the three great boogie-woogie pianists (along with Lewis and Ammons) whose sudden prominence in the late 1930s helped make the style very popular.

Born in 1904, from 1926 to 1938 he worked as a pianist, often working with Big Joe Turner.

Big Joe Turner was born in 1911 and is most noteworthy for his ‘shout Blues’ style. Now whilst Turner’s most famous and appreciated years were in the 1950’s, particularly with the track Shake, Rattle & Roll, his career spanned the 1920’s through to the 1980’s.

Turner began his career singing on street corners, and then got various jobs as a cook and eventually a singing barman. In fact it was in one such club where he and his piano playing partner Pete Johnson became resident performers.

Pete & Joe


The song “Roll ‘Em Pete“, was composed by Johnson and Turner and featuring Turner on vocals and Johnson on piano and boogie style aside, it is considered one of the first rock and roll records.

Another self-referential title was their “Johnson and Turner Blues“. In 1949, Turner also wrote and recorded “Rocket 88 Boogie“, a two-sided instrumental, which influenced the 1951 Ike Turner hit, “Rocket 88“, which has also been touted as possibly the first Rock & Roll track. Whatever, Turner had a hand in both.

Well, I got a gal, she lives up on the hill
Well, I got a gal, she lives up on the hill
Well, this woman’s tryin’ to quit me, Lord, but I love her still

She’s got eyes like diamonds, they shine like Klondike gold
She’s got eyes like diamonds, they shine like Klondike gold
Every time she loves me, she sends my mellow soul

Well, you’re so beautiful, you’ve got to die someday
Well, you’re so beautiful, you’ve got to die someday
All I want’s a little loving, just before you pass away

Pretty baby, I’m goin’ away and leave you by yourself
Pretty baby, I’m goin’ away and leave you by yourself
You’ve mistreated me, now you can mistreat somebody else

Roll ’em Pete

CD #2 has as good a range of boogie woogie artists as you could wish and throughout is some of the big names in the Jazz scene. Boogie Woogie is an infectious style of music, and obviously not only were the ‘lesser’ recognised artists of the day smitten by its style, but the big names as well.

Track #6
is by a true jazz legend –
Woody Herman with Chip’s Boogie Woogie.
Born in 1913, Herman was not only an accomplished musician, playing clarinet, alto and soprano saxophone, but a brilliant big band leader.

His first band became known for its orchestrations of the blues and was sometimes billed as “The Band That Plays The Blues“.

Woody Herman


However we remember him today largely for his jazz music, the dominant theme throughout his eighty plus albums.

Yet here we have him playing Boogie Woogie with his band and with him featured on clarinet. I somehow suspect that there are only a few clarinet featured boogie woogie tracks in existence and if this is not the best, I’d like to hear the one that is.

Chips Boogie Woogie

Track # 10
is by another stalwart of the jazz scene from that period, it is non other than Count Basie, with Basie Boogie.

This really IS Big Band Boogie, with a tad of jazz overtone. Born in 1904, Basie is remembered for both his compositions and his piano playing and his piano playing was simply stunning.

cream of the crate cd review #24: various artists – encyclopedia of boogie woogie
Count Basie


His accomplishments and his story are both far to intricate and deserving of the spotlight, for me to cover here, but suffice to say that it would be impossible in my opinion not have Basie in the top 5 of the all-time greatest jazz band leaders.

He played with and collaborated with simply, the best. These included, but are not limited to, the likes of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong.

Yet for all that jazz greatness, he still found time to not just dip his toe into boogie woogie, but to give it his own mark. This track recorded in 1943 was indeed, when Basie was at his peak.

Check it out!

Basie Boogie


The 3rd and final track presented for you provides a fantastic singing combination.

It’s a fantastic song that was actually inspired by Cow Cow Davenport and sung by one of the greatest jazz deva’s ever.
Track # 14 is Cow Cow Boogie and it is sung by Ella Fitzgerald, backed by the amazing Ink Spots.
Ella Fitzgerald


The track was first recorded by Ella Mae Morse and Freedy Slack (1942) – and that version is in fact every part as good as this version. It seems to be a reasonable conclusion that the fact that Ella even recorded it, suggests that the composition and the boogie woogie style of the music, even appealed to the great recording artists of the day.Born in 1917,

Ella Fitzgerald is definitely in the same boat as Count Basie, and so demands her own review – but suffice to say she was both known as “The First lady of Song“, and, the “Queen of Jazz“.

Her discography is mind blowing and her place as a diva of jazz is unchallengeable. So when she teamed up with the Ink Spots to cover this wonderful boogie woogie track in 1944, we are in fact seeing the melding of the two great music styles of the day resulting in a #1 hit on the Harlem Hit Parade and a #1 hit on the pop chart. Oh and the hook? it’s terrific!

Comma ti yi yi yeah
Comma ti yippity yi yeah

Cow Cow Boogie

We can ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’, we can ‘Rock Around the Clock’ we can dance with our ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and, we can be thankful for Boogie Woogie, for without it Rock & Roll could not have existed in the form we know.

This is a very good album to have in a collection because it is such a well developed compilation and while not featured in this review, with artists like T-Bone Walker, Big Maceo, Crippled Clarence Lofton, Benny Goodman and Little Brother Montgomery all contributing to the music on this CD, well, frankly it’s a ‘rip-snorter’ of a set deserving the title, “Encyclopedia of Boogie Woogie“.

The cost? well I found it on Ebay (2nd hand) for the “massive” price of $10.00Au inc postage, or new  on various on-line sites for around $20Au

What are you waiting for – buy it and never regret it!


Having suffered from being unable to find one video of the artist from the last review, this one was a little easier!


Benny Goodman – Roll ’em


Tommy Dorsey – Boogie Woogie


Pete Johnson & Albert Ammons – Sixth Avenue Express


Louis Jordan – Caldonia Boogie

Rob Greaves
I have been with the Toorak Times since April 2012. I work as Senior Editor of the Toorak Times, but I also think of myself as senior contributor. I've been in the Australian music scene as a musician since 1964, and have worked in radio and TV and newspapers (when they were paper ), serious experience in audio editing, and a lot of video editing experience. Currently I'm working as a radio program producer for a national interview program as well as my work with the Toorak Times