Smokey Hogg-The Texas Blues Of Smokey Hogg.

Label: Ace Records.

One of the most prolific bluesmen early twentieth Century was Andrew Hogg, who was born on a farm in Glenfawn, Rusk County, Texas on the ’27th’ of January 1914. Growing up, his father taught him to play guitar. Little did his father know that his son would become one of the greatest blues guitarists of his generation, Smokey Hogg.

By 1932, eighteen he had met and married his first wife Bertha Blanton who was only fifteen. A year later, in 1933, their son was born but by 1934 the marriage was over.

Just four years later, in 1937, Smokey Hogg had signed to Decca and embarked upon a recording career that spanned twenty-four years. His first recordings were released on Decca later in 1937 but after this he recorded for a number of labels.

The majority were situated on the West Coast and included Combo, Ebb, Exclusive, Fidelity, Imperial, Jade, Meteor, Ray’s, Recorded in Hollywood, Show Time and Specialty. Smokey Hogg even spent some time signed to Bullet in Nashville and Macy’s, Mercury and Sittin’ In With in Houston. However, much of his career was LA-based Modern Records. 

Recently, Ace Records released The Texas Blues Of Smokey Hogg. This is the fifth compilation of Smokey Hogg’s music the label has released. It’s also a tie-in with Guido Van Rijn’s biography of the Texan bluesman. The compilation  features twenty-four tracks that have never been on CD before. This includes thirteen songs that originally featured on 78s and singles, seven that are taken from LPs and four previously unreleased tracks recorded for Modern and Combo. The other tracks were released on Crown, Kent, Modern Records and Top Hat and are part of the next chapter in the Smokey Hogg story.

In 1947, Smokey Hogg entered the studio to recorded one of his own compositions, I Don’t Want You for Kent. However, it  lay unreleased until 1967 when it featured on the album Original Folk Blues in 1967. This was seven years after the death of the Texan-born bluesman. Other songs on the album included three more of this compositions I Want My Baby (But My Baby Don’t Want Me), You Can’t Tell Them Where I’m Goin’ and No Matter What You Do plus a cover of Leroy Carr’s When The Sun Goes Down which were recorded in 195o  when he was in his prime. This posthumous album was a reminder of what the blues lost after Smokey Carr’s death in 1947.

Three other recordings from 1947 feature on the compilation. This includes Worrying Over You which was recorded on the ‘22nd’ November and tells the story of an unfaithful lover. It’s thought that the song may be about Smokey Hogg’s first wife Bertha. 

Another recording from 1947 is Everybody’s Gotta Racket where  Smokey Hogg lived-in, cynical vocal sings about how he believed everyone in the post-war years was doing something that was either illegal or immoral. It was released on Modern in 1950. 

In 1947, Smokey Hogg recorded one of best known songs. This was a cover of Sonny Boy WIlliamson’s Good Mornin’ Little School Girl. It featured on Smokey Hogg Sings The Blues which was released on Crown in 1961 a year after his death. So does Coming Back Home To you Again which was recorded in 1950,

By 1950,  Smokey Hogg was signed to Modern and cut another of his compositions The Way You Treat Me (aka ( Got Your Picture). It’s a song about a woman who treats him badly and despite the opening verse she won’t be missed if she leaves him. It’s another relationship song which Smokey Hogg seemed to specialise in.

There’s four unreleased tracks on the compilation. This includes  Kind Hearted Blues and What’s That You Got which were recorded for Modern in 1951. They’re joined by My Gal Gave You Money and Instrumental which were recorded for the Combo label in 1951.

Smokey Hogg cut eight songs for the Recorded In Hollywood label and they all feature on the compilation. This includes  You’ll Need My Help Someday which was released in 1951 with Somebody New on the B-Side. Later that year, he  followed this up with Ain’t You Sorry Baby with Ruby on the flip-side. The third single featured Penitentiary Blues Part 1 with Penitentiary Blues Part 2 on the B-Side. These six sides are underrated and oft-overlooked tracks and a welcome addition to the compilation.

The same can be said Baby Shake Your Leg which was released as a single on Top Hat with Fortune Teller Blues on the B-Sides. Many  blues fans won’t have heard these tracks which fall into the category of hidden  gens.

Where Have You Been was released on Combo in 1952 and features a vocal full of loneliness,  longing and even mistrust. Closing The Texas Blues Of Smokey Hogg is a cover Too Late Old Man which was released on Modern in 1953. It’s a case of not straying far from the original on what’s akin to a homage to Washboard Sam’s cover of the track. This is one of the best covers on the compilation.

The Texas Blues Of Smokey Hogg is the perfect opportunity to discover twenty-four tracks the prolific Texan bluesman recorded between 1947 and 1952. This is the fifth compilation of Smokey  Hogg’s music that Ace Records have released and for newcomers to his music it’s the perfect starting place. It’s a compilation that will also be of interest to anyone with an interest in the blues and especially Texas blues. 

So will Guido Van Rijn’s biography which is entitled The Texas Blues Of Smokey Hogg. It analyses the 256 tracks that he recorded during a career that spanned just twenty-three  years.

Sadly, Smokey Hogg passed away in 1960 aged just forty-six. However, he left behind a rich musical legacy including the music on The Texas Blues Of Smokey Hogg. 

The Texas Blues Of Smokey Hogg.


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