New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Legendary St. Louis blues vocalist, guitarist and pianist Henry Jesse
"Mule" Townsend made his first recordings for Columbia Records in 1929.
His history incorporates much of the St. Louis blues story and provides insight into the development of the ensemble style of postwar Chicago
blues. Townsend was born in Shelby, Mississippi in 1909 and moved to St. Louis circa 1921, where he began playing guitar a few years later under the tutelage of pioneer figures Dudlow Joe, Son Ryan, and Henry Spaulding. In 1931 he recorded for both Paramount Records and Victor/Bluebird; an association with the latter lasted until 1938. His vocal performances appeared credited to Henry Townsend, Jesse
Townsend, and Henry Thomas, but it was in his role as accompanist that Henry reached his widest audience, appearing on dozens of Walter Davis, Big Joe Williams, Pinetop Sparks, Roosevelt Sykes, Sonny
Boy Williamson, and Robert Nighthawk sides including classics like "Baby Please Don't Go" (Big Joe Williams) and "Every Day I Have the Blues" (Pinetop Sparks).
Townsend's connection to Robert Nighthawk and Sonny
Boy Williamson gave him an important role in the very beginning of the Chicago
ensemble style that Robert Nighthawk, Sonny
Boy Williamson and Big Joe Williams originated. After Henry's discharge from the army in 1944, he moved to Chicago
(following Nighthawk and Williamson) and found himself performing with Little
Walter, Othum Brown, and Eddie Boyd. He returned to St. Louis in 1947 and renewed his long association with Walter Davis. They recorded for Bullet Records of Nashville in 1949 and Victor in 1952. In the '60s Townsend made an album for the Prestige Bluesville imprint, and a mid-'70s album appeared on Adelphi.
"Mule" appeared in 1980 on the St. Louis Nighthawk Records label. The label was to turn its attention to reggae after 1980, but had started as a blues label in 1976 with a series of blues compilation albums leading up to "Mule."
From the original album notes: "The production of this record was undertaken with two goals in mind: to create, finally, an album worth of Henry Townsend's unique genius, and thus secure for him the recognition that an artist of his stature and historical importance deserves. We at Nighthawk have become convinced that Henry is perhaps the greatest living country bluesman."
This reissue, due out December 14, 2018 from Omnivore Recordings, follows those same sentiments and goals, and enhances the original release with eight previously unissued bonus tracks from the album sessions. "Mule" also includes updated liner notes and photos from original co-producer and Nighthawk founder Leroy Jodie Pierson, who has co-produced with Grammy Award-winner Cheryl Pawelski to create this definitive edition.
The album has been remastered from the original tapes by Grammy® Award-winning engineer Michael Graves.
1. Bad Luck Dice
2. Nothing But Trouble
3.Things Have Changed
4. The Old Man's Soul
Come Rollin' Down
6. It's A Hard Road To Travel
7. Talkin' Guiar Blues
8. I'm Just An Ordinary Man
9. Alley Stut
10. Can't You See
11. Dark Clouds Rising
12. The Train
Is At The Station
13. Overstayed My Time
Previously Unissued Bonus Tracks
14. The Other Night
15. Broken Home Blues
16. Going Back To My Baby
17. Nice And Kind
18. Goin' Back Down South
19. Turned On And Off
20. Look Over Yonder
21. Since You've Come Back Home