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Blind Willie Davis

The classic American spiritual "When the Saints Go Marching In" is closely identified with Louis Armstrong and New Orleans jazz. At Preservation Hall in the latter city, there is even a sign indicating that the combo will be glad to play the song -- for a 50 dollar tip. (All other requests are only ten dollars per song.) Yet one listen to the Delta blues or rural gospel version of the song by Blind Willie Davis, originally recorded for the Paramount "race" record series in the late '20s, could make a listener completely forget the Dixieland "Saints" -- and that's quite an accomplishment. The recordings of Davis, a figure whose personal history has yet to be uncovered, are part of many from this period that represented the beginnings of the gospel recording industry. As such, Davis' work has been widely anthologized in various compilations devoted to early black gospel or sanctified singing, including the marvelous Raw Pre-War Gospel, 1926-36 on the Revenant label. In addition, blues fans have found the work of Davis to be of value even removed from its gospel context. Like the powerful work of Blind Willie Johnson, the recordings of Davis have everything a blues fan will want or need, including gritty vocals and tough guitar playing. Davis' bottleneck guitar arrangements are quite unique. His thumb picking style is considered extremely unorthodox, actually seeming to be something like a backward version of what other Mississippi Delta players do. Davis also seemed to think and move faster than some of his contemporaries, meaning his combination of strumming and picking patterns is dense and packed with detail. The heavy blues content of a Davis performance also gives his gospel material much less of a joyous character. The performance included on the Revenant disc, "I Believe I'll Go Back Home," features sorrowful and moving interplay between voice and bottleneck; and represents a powerful argument that gospel music comes out of tragedy rather than ecstatic joy, at least in the minds of some blues and gospel critics. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Rough Guide To Gospel Blues

1. Slippin' And Slidin' Up The Golden Street

2. Wouldn't Mind Dying If Dying Was All

3. Mother Called Her Child To Her Dying Bed

4. I'm On My Way To The Kingdom Land

5. Let Me Ride

6. I'll Just Stand And Wring My Hands And Cry

7. I Got Religion, I'm So Glad

8. I've Got A Key To The Kingdom

9. Jonah In The Wilderness

10. When The Saints Go Marching In

11. On Revival Day

12. Jesus Is A Dying Bed Maker

13. Lead Me All The Way

14. All I Want Is That Pure Religion

x

Track List: The Voice Of The Blues: Bottleneck Guitar Masterpieces

1. Goin' Up The Country

5. She's Coming Back Some Cold Rainy Day

6. Jefferson County Blues

8. When The Saints Go Marching In

10. She's A Hum Dum Dinger From Dingersville

12. Laughing Rag

13. Selling That Stuff

14. I Want You To Lead Me On

x

Track List: Rev. Gary Davis & Guitar Evangelists, Vol. 2

Disc 1

1. I Will Not Be Removed

2. Everybody's Got To Be Tried

3. I'll Be Satisfied

4. Take Your Burden To The Lord

5. I Wish My Mother Was On That Train

6. Just Beyond Jordan

7. Keep On The Firing Line

8. The Half Ain't Never Been Told

9. C & O Blues

10. The Storm Is Passing Over

11. God's Gonna Separate The Wheat From The Tares

12. Been Listening All The Day

13. Goin' To Rest Where Jesus Is

14. There's A Hand Writing On The Wall

15. Scandalous And A Shame

16. I've Crossed The Separation Line

17. Lord Don't Drive Me Away

18. Religion Is Something Within You

19. Mother's Love

20. Wonder Will My Troubles Then Be Over

21. Strange Things Happening In The Land

22. Waded In The Water Trying To Get Home

23. He Done What The World Couldn't Do

24. Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down

25. I Ain't No Sinner Now

26. Pressin' Up That Shiny Way

27. In That Pearly White City Above

Disc 2

1. I Wonder Will My Mother Be On That Train?

2. God's Gonna Separate The Wheat From The Tares

3. When I Stand Before The King

4. I Ain't No Sinner Now

5. Charity

6. I Love Traveling

7. I Want My Crown

8. We're Gonna Have A Good Time

9. Precious Lord

10. You've Got To Move (When The Lord Gets Ready)

11. I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

12. You've Got To Move (When The Lord Gets Ready)

13. Can't No Grave Hold My Body Down

15. Precious Lord

17. I Don't Want To Go Down There Part 2

18. This Heart Of Mine

20. I Can't Tarry

22. There Is Nothing Like The Holy Spirit

23. Storm Thru Mississippi

24. Strange Things

Disc 3

1. When The Saints Go Marching In

2. Rock Of Ages Chicago

3. Your Enemy Cannot Harm You

4. I've Got A Key To The Kingdom

5. Trust In God And Do Right

6. I Believe I'll Go Back Home

7. Down On Me

8. Lord, I'm True Vine

10. Within My Mind

11. There'll Be No Grumblers There

12. I Want To Live (So God Can Use Me)

13. How Long

14. Life Is A Problem

15. How Long

16. God's Little Birds

17. The Bible's Right

18. The Gambling Man

19. I'm Going To That City

20. Swing Low Sweet Chariot

22. Pure Religion

24. Motherless Children

25. I'll Just Stand And Wring My Hands And Cry

Disc 4

1. I'm Throwin' Up My Hands

2. Cross And Evil Woman Blues

3. I Am The True Vine

4. I Am The Light Of The World

5. O Lord Search My Heart

6. I Saw The Light

7. You Can Go Home

8. Twelve Gates To The City

9. Have More Faith In Jesus

10. You Got To Go Down

11. I Belong To The Band - Hallelujah!

12. The Great Change In Me

13. Lord, I Wish I Could See

14. Lord Stand By Me

16. Civil War March

17. I Cannot Bear My Burden By Myself

18. I'm Gonna' Meet You At The Station

19. I Want To See Him

20. When I Take My Vacation In Heaven

21. You Can't Hide

22. Jesus Is My Air-O-Plane

23. Oh Lord I'm Your Child

24. Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

25. Stand By Me

x

Track List: How Can I Keep From Singing Vol. 2: Early American Religious Music And Song

3. Rock Of Ages

4. Weeping Mary

5. I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart

8. Memphis Flu

9. Jesus Is My Friend

10. Job

11. Hallelujah To The Lamb

15. Shine On Me

16. Oh Death

17. Thou Carest Lord

20. Lonely Tomb

21. Goin' To The West Where Jesus Is

22. Lonesome Valley

x

Track List: Gospel Classics 1927-1931

12. When The Saints Go Marching In

13. Rock Of Ages

14. Your Enemy Cannot Harm You

15. I've Got A Key To The Kingdom

16. Trust In God And Do The Right

17. I Believe I'll Go Back Home

18. He's Coming Soon

19. Heavenly Sunshine

20. Lord, You've Sure Been Good To Me

21. I Can Tell The World About This

22. Plenty Good Room In My Father's Kingdom

23. Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes

x

Track List: Rough Guide To Bottleneck Blues (Second Edition)

1. It's Nobody's Fault But Mine

2. Bottleneck Blues

3. Bukka's Jitterbug Swing

4. No No Blues

5. Has My Gal Been Here

6. It's Just Too Bad

7. Sweet Sarah Blues

8. Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home

9. Paddlin' Blues

10. Frisco Blues

11. Don't Sell It - Don't Give It Away

12. C.C. Rider

13. The Hula Blues

14. You Never Will Know Who Is Your Friend

15. The Dirty Dozen, No. 2

16. Dry Spell Blues, Pt. 1

17. Jake Bottle Blues

18. Tell Me Baby

19. You Gonna Need My Help Some Day

20. You Can't Keep No Brown

21. When The Saints Go Marching In

22. John Henry (The Steel Driving Man), Pt. 1

23. Married Man Blues

24. Prayer Of Death, Pt. 1

25. Lonesome Atlanta Blues

x

Track List: Goodbye, Babylon

Disc 1

4. Present Joys

5. All I Want Is That Pure Religion

8. Thou Carest Lord, For Me

9. Lift Him Up That's All

10. Rock My Soul

12. Crucifixion

14. I'll Never Go Back

15. God's Gonna Separate The Wheat From The Tares

16. Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

17. I Belong To The Band - Hallelujah!

18. River Of Jordan

19. Sow Good Seeds

20. I'll Be Satisfied

21. Troubled 'bout My Soul

22. Dry Bones

24. Creep Along, Moses

26. He Gave Me A Heart To Love

27. O Day

Disc 2

1. There Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down

3. The Bible's Right

4. Standing In The Need Of Prayer

7. Jesus Is A Mighty Good Leader

9. Glory, Glory, Glory, Glory To The Lamb

10. Come Over Here

11. I'm Gonna Cross The River Of Jordan

12. Milky White Way

17. This World Can't Stand Long

18. God's Getting Worried

19. Get Right Church

20. Move, Members, Move

24. The Bible's True

25. Ship Of Glory

28. When The Saints Go Marching In

Disc 3

4. Ain't Gonna Lay My Armor Down

7. Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Crying

9. You've Got To Move

11. Golden Gate Gospel Train

12. I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)

13. Down On Me

14. Goin' To Rest Where Jesus Is

19. What Are They Doing In Heaven Today

22. I Am In The Heavenly Way

23. Over In The Glory Land

25. In The Land Where We'll Never Grow Old

26. Bathe In That Beautiful Pool

Disc 4

1. Walking My Lord Up Calvary Hill

3. If You See My Savior

5. Found A Wonderful Savior

8. Take Your Burden To The Lord And Leave It There

12. Standing On The Promises

13. Jesus Is My Air-O-Plane

15. I Mean To Live For Jesus

16. When Was Jesus Born?

17. Come To The Savior

18. I Want Jesus To Walk With Me

19. He's Coming Soon

20. Return Again

21. I Am The True Vine

23. I'll Lead A Christian Life

24. I'm Leaning On The Lord

25. Where He Leads Me I Will Follow

26. Jesus Is Getting Us Ready For The Great Day

Disc 5

3. Hallelujah To The Lamb

4. You Need Jesus On Your Side

5. You'd Better Mind

8. Keep On The Firing Line

9. Romans Ten And Nine

10. Standing Outside

11. Sinner You Better Get Ready

12. I Got To Cross The River Of Jordan

13. Free At Last

15. Amazing Grace

16. Honey In The Rock

17. On Jordan's Stormy Banks We Stand

20. Primrose Hill

21. Keep On The Sunny Side

25. Strange Things Happening Every Day

Disc 6

1. Gettin' Ready For Christmas Day

5. The Liar

14. O Lord I'm Your Child

15. Moses Was Rescued By A Negro Woman

x

Track List: Gospel: Negro Spirituals-Gospel Songs / 1926-1942

Disc 1

1. Let Your Light Shine On Me

2. Mother's Children Have A Hard Time

3. I'll Go Where You Want Me To Do

4. He's Got His Eyes On You

5. The Need Of Prayer

6. True Friendship

7. Goin' On To Heaven In The Sanctified Way

8. Thou Carest Lord For Me

9. Sign Of The Judgement

10. Take Your Burden To The Lord...

12. Memphis Flu

13. He Got Better Things For You

14. No Hiding Place

15. The Black Diamond Express To Hell (I & II)

16. If You See My Savior

18. The Prodigal Son

Disc 2

1. Oh, My Lord

2. God Shall Wipe All Tears Away

3. I Want Jesus To Walk Around My Bedside

4. When The Saints Go Marching In

5. When I Stand Before The King

6. Tell Me What Kind Of Man Jesus Is

8. Twelve Gates To The City

9. Moan, You Moaners

10. Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen

11. The Valley Of Time

12. The Sun Didn't Shine

13. Do Lord Send Me

14. Shake Mother's Hand For Me

15. This Train

16. Rock Me

17. I'm Free At Last

18. Wade In The Water

x

Track List: Classic Blues Songs From The 1920's Vol. 10

1. Dark Was The Night-Cold Was The Ground

2. Diddie Wa Diddie

3. What`S The Matter With The Mill ?

4. Sow Good Seeds

5. Peach Orchard Mama

6. Police Dog Blues

7. Snatch It Back Blues

10. Frankie And Albert

11. Ice And Snow Blues

13. I Believe I`Ll Go Back Home

14. Trust In God And Do The Right

15. Titanic Blues

20. Some These Days I`Ll Be Gone - Take 1

21. Some These Days I`Ll Be Gone - Take 2

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