Good for What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows, 1926 - 1937

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
The American medicine show came into its own shortly after the Civil War with the rise of so-called patent medicines and the almost complete lack of regulations concerning the ingredients that went into them, and any number of noxious tonics, elixirs, and nostrums with trumpeted healing powers were hawked by silver-tongued pitch doctors to the audiences who flocked to see the various acrobats, dancers, fire-eaters, snake handlers, comedians and musicians who entertained at these free extravaganzas. As a cost efficient way of merging entertainment with merchandising and where manufacturing meant mixing ingredients in a bathtub, these medicine shows successfully traveled ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
The American medicine show came into its own shortly after the Civil War with the rise of so-called patent medicines and the almost complete lack of regulations concerning the ingredients that went into them, and any number of noxious tonics, elixirs, and nostrums with trumpeted healing powers were hawked by silver-tongued pitch doctors to the audiences who flocked to see the various acrobats, dancers, fire-eaters, snake handlers, comedians and musicians who entertained at these free extravaganzas. As a cost efficient way of merging entertainment with merchandising and where manufacturing meant mixing ingredients in a bathtub, these medicine shows successfully traveled the so-called "kerosene circuit" of rural and small town America until the dawn of the 20th century, when the rise of radio and movies, and the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, combined to render them obsolete. The medicine show blueprint of offering free entertainment to attract audiences and then using intermissions to push products on them has hardly gone away, however, and is still the driving force behind radio and television in the 21st century. The musicians featured in these colorful traveling medicine shows were professionals, at least professional enough to leave their home communities and take to the road, and luckily several of these musicians were still active in the 1920s and early '30s when the fledgling recording industry was just getting off the ground, and numerous commercial 78s by former medicine show entertainers were issued in the prewar era. Two discs' worth of these 78s have been assembled here by Old Hat Records, an independent label out of North Carolina dedicated to the preservation of American vernacular and regional music, and if listening to these tracks isn't exactly like standing out under those kerosene lights, it's the next best thing. Among the gems on Good for What Ails You are the version of "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal, You" by Daddy Stovepipe Johnny Watson and Mississippi Sarah Sarah Watson called "The Spasm" that opens the set; the bizarre "Beans" by Beans Hambone James Albert and El Morrow, a record so odd it is remarkable that it was ever considered for commercial release a rambling, half-improvised monologue on beans, it rides over a maddening single-string guitar riff that seems always on the edge of breaking down completely; the delightful "Railroadin' Some" by Henry Thomas, which recalls a train trip across Texas and north to Chicago in an impressive litany of towns and train stops, and Jim Jackson's 1928 recording of "I Heard the Voice of a Porkchop," a surreal parody of the Scottish hymn "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say." Mixed in are an engaging assortment of blues, rags, re-formatted minstrel tunes, jug and string band pieces that continually surprise and delight. Old Hat is to be commended for the obvious care in which this collection is assembled, and fans of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music may well find that this one is even wilder.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/4/2005
  • Label: Old Hat Ent.
  • UPC: 670725100523
  • Catalog Number: 1005
  • Sales rank: 50,238

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 The Spasm (2:52)
  2. 2 Tanner's Boarding House - Riley Puckett (3:05)
  3. 3 Don't Think I'm Santa Claus (3:05)
  4. 4 Hokum Blues - Coley Jones (3:14)
  5. 5 Jimbo Jambo Land - Shorty Godwin (2:57)
  6. 6 Gonna Swing on the Golden Gate (2:57)
  7. 7 Papa's 'Bout to Get Mad (2:59)
  8. 8 The Man Who Wrote Home Sweet Home Never Was a Married Man - Mack Woolbright (3:14)
  9. 9 Bye, Bye Policeman - Jim Jackson (3:03)
  10. 10 The Bald-Headed End of a Broom - Walter "Kid" Smith (2:56)
  11. 11 Bow Wow Blues - Allen Brothers (3:21)
  12. 12 Beans (2:53)
  13. 13 A Chicken Can Waltz the Gravy Around - Stovepipe No. 1 (3:08)
  14. 14 Tell It to Me - Grant Brothers & Their Music (2:56)
  15. 15 Ain't No Use Working So Hard - The Carolina Tar Heels (3:08)
  16. 16 Mama Keep Your Yes Ma'am Clean (2:47)
  17. 17 C-H-I-C-K-E-N Spells Chicken (2:54)
  18. 18 My Money Never Runs Out - Banjo Joe (2:53)
  19. 19 Railroadin' Some - Henry Thomas (3:19)
  20. 20 Traveling Man - Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers (2:55)
  21. 21 G. Burns Is Gonna Rise Again - Johnson-Nelson-Porkchop (3:00)
  22. 22 Baby All Night Long - Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers (2:47)
  23. 23 Born in Hard Luck (3:19)
  24. 24 He's in the Jailhouse Now (3:11)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Gonna Tip Out Tonight (3:09)
  2. 2 Chevrolet Car - Sam McGee (3:09)
  3. 3 It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo' - Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers (2:58)
  4. 4 Bring It with You When You Come (2:45)
  5. 5 Atlanta Strut - Blind Sammie (3:11)
  6. 6 Go Along Mule (3:07)
  7. 7 Casey Bill (2:48)
  8. 8 I Got Mine (3:05)
  9. 9 Hannah (2:57)
  10. 10 Adam & Eve in the Garden - Ben Covington (2:42)
  11. 11 Mysterious Coon - Alec Johnson (3:15)
  12. 12 Her Name Was Hula Lou - The Carolina Tar Heels (2:59)
  13. 13 Reno Blues - Three Tobacco Tags (2:39)
  14. 14 Scoodle Um Skoo (3:17)
  15. 15 Stackalee (3:05)
  16. 16 The Cat's Got the Measles, The Dog's Got the Whooping Cough - Walter Smith (2:59)
  17. 17 Shout You Cats - Hezekiah Jenkins (3:08)
  18. 18 Nobody's Business If I Do (2:58)
  19. 19 Sweet Sixteen - Charlie Poole (2:52)
  20. 20 Ticklish Reuben - Mack Woolbright (2:40)
  21. 21 I Heard the Voice of a Porkchop - Jim Jackson (2:52)
  22. 22 Shine - Coley Jones (3:01)
  23. 23 The Gypsy - Emmett Miller (3:21)
  24. 24 Kiss Me Candy (2:06)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Jim Jackson Guitar, Vocals
Blind Willie McTell Guitar, Vocals
Frank Stokes Guitar, Vocals
Henry Thomas Guitar, Vocals, Reed Pipes
Uncle Dave Macon Banjo, Vocals
Cal Smith Banjo
Gid Tanner Fiddle, Vocals
Sam Harris Guitar
Gus Cannon Banjo, Vocals
Pink Anderson Guitar, Vocals
J.E. Mainer Fiddle
Riley Puckett Guitar, Vocals
Fiddlin' John Carson Fiddle, Vocals
Snuffy Jenkins Banjo
Sam McGee Banjo, Guitar, Vocals
Blind Blake Guitar
Tom Ashley Guitar, Vocals
Chris Bouchillon Vocals
Charlie Burse Guitar, Vocals
David Crockett Guitar, Harmonica
Simmie Dooley Guitar, Vocals
Roy Harvey Guitar
Frank Hutchison Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Coley Jones Mandolin, Vocals
Jab Jones Jug
Noah Lewis Harmonica
Earl McDonald Vocals, Jug
Kirk McGee Fiddle, Vocals
Clayton McMichen Fiddle, Vocals
Charlie "Bozo" Nickerson Vocals
Charlie Parker Guitar, Vocals
Charlie Poole Banjo, Vocals
Bayless Rose Guitar
Vol Stevens Mandolin
Marco Washington String Bass
Hosea Woods Guitar, Vocals
Austin Allen Vocals, Tenor Banjo
Gwen Foster Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Fate Norris Banjo
Posey Rorer Fiddle
Ben Covington Banjo, Harmonica, Vocals
Claude Grant Guitar, Vocals
Jack Grant Mandolin, Vocals
Jack Pierce Fiddle, Vocals
Claude Slagle Banjo
Lowe Stokes Fiddle
Doc Walsh Banjo, Vocals
Lee Allen & His Band Guitar, Kazoo
Tommie Bradley Guitar, Vocals
Ralph Miller Piano
Norman Woodlieff Guitar
Mack Woolbright Banjo, Vocals
Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers Fiddle, Vocals
Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers Fiddle, Vocals
George Morris Guitar, Vocals
Uncle Macon Dave & His Fruit Jar Guzzlers Choir, Chorus
Walter "Kid" Smith Vocals
Walter Cole Vocals
Mazy Todd Fiddle
Blythe Poteet Guitar, Vocals
James Robinson Violin
Lil McClintock Guitar, Vocals
T.M. Brewer Vocals
Odell Smith Fiddle
Uris Bouchillon Guitar
Charley Bouchillon Fiddle
James "Beans Hambone" Albert Guitar, Vocals
Lucien Brown Alto Saxophone
Benny Calvin Mandolin
Gene Cobb Falsetto
Shorty Godwin Guitar, Vocals
Clarence Greene Fiddle
Hezekiah Jenkins Vocals
Sam "Stovepipe No. 1" Jones Vocals
Emmett Miller Vocals
Technical Credits
Bengt Olsson Liner Notes, Author
Richard K. Spottswood Author
Lee Allen & His Band Author
Charles Wolfe Author
Paul Oliver Author
Nick Tosches Author
Marshall Wyatt Producer, Liner Notes, Booklet Design, Song Notes
Chris Frazer Smith Author
Scott E. Moore Photo Courtesy
Rosa Lee Carson Contributor
James A. Hunt Photo Courtesy
Kinney Rorrer Author
Louis Causey Computer Editing
Bobby Gipson Photo Restoration
Sam "Stovepipe No. 1" Jones Contributor
David Lynch Cover Design
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