In addition to the Blind Willie McTell and Charley Patton albums I’ve already written about, Jack White’s label Third Man Records is also issuing the complete works of The Mississippi Sheiks on vinyl.
Most bluesmen included “white music” in their repertoires — pop hits and novelty songs — because they often played for white dances and parties, but music labels looking for “race music” rarely recorded them performing such numbers. The Mississippi Sheiks, though grounded in the blues, had a style that also directly incorporated white musical trends, with jaunty pop melodies and lyrical fiddle accompaniments.
They became wildly successful crossover musicians, with material that appealed to blacks and whites simultaneously. They thus help round out our picture of the Delta’s musical tradition which its recorded legacy distorts to a degree.
The songs of the Sheiks can be down and dirty, and deeply soulful, but just as regularly embody a spirit of musical lightheartedness that we don’t associate with the blues form.
These blues reissues by Third Man Records, all presented in excellent pressings on 180-gram vinyl, are a great bargain at $16 a pop — even cheaper when ordered in bundles which include albums from each of the three artists in question, as here: