Compilations like this are staples of the reissue business; seasoned collectors will recall, and perhaps even own, sets such as Document’s Rude Dudes or Indigo’s Bed Spring Poker and He Got Out His Big Ten Inch. From the very earliest days of the black recording industry there was a sizable market for songs that were both humorous and suggestive, and sometimes close to blatant.
Those artists who could spin repeated variations on humanity’s oldest theme were urged to do so; some, like Bo Carter – represented here by his famously filthy Banana In Your Fruit Basket and My Pencil Won’t Write No More – must have found it difficult to record anything else.
Even studio pro Lonnie Johnson served his time on the well-worn smut production line, with pieces like Best Jockey In Town, Jelly Roll Baker and the two-part Furniture Man, in which he and Victoria Spivey enact a favourite routine of the porn-film industry, the debt-collector and the woman who finds unconventional ways to pay him.
The simplest way to convey the flavour of this two-CD, 55-track collection might be to just go on listing spectacularly rude titles like What’s That Smells Like Fish (Blind Boy Fuller) or If It Don’t Fit Don’t Force It (Barrel House Annie) and leave it at that, but we’d rather draw the reader’s attention to genuinely witty compositions including Julia Lee’s I Didn’t Like It The First Time (The Spinach Song), Roy Brown’s disturbingly violent two-part Butcher Pete or the staggeringly potty-mouthed Lucille Bogan’s Shave ’Em Dry.
While the first disc is mostly devoted to smutty songs from the 20s and 30s, the second nudges up to the rock’n’roll era with half a dozen rambunctious performances by Wynonie Harris such as Lovin’ Machine. This CD also finds time for The Dominoes’ Sixty Minute Man and room for Bull Moose Jackson’s Big Ten Inch.
On hand to cool the fevered, er, brow we have the suave Dinah Washington developing the theme of vital statistics with Long John Blues and Short John, and a smooth slice of doo-wop courtesy of The Blenders’ Don’t F**k Around With Love, which may have its asterisks present and correct in print but cheerfully loses them in performance./o:p