Charlie McCoy was one of the most important figures in pre-war Blues, via his own work or backing others, and on this release, for the first time ever, the whole musical story is told. McCoy's versatility meant that he was in demand from artists in all strands of Blues and as a result this compilation contains a cross-section of styles by some of Blues most influential artists, performing some of their most important works, all with much stronger audio clarity than has been available before..
As Robert Johnson did with Son House and Willie Brown, the young Charlie sneaked away from his parents to follow Rubin Lacy and Son Spand around, watching how they played, picking up their instruments whenever they put them down, and attempting to replicate what he had seen them do. The songs that Tommy, Ishmon, and Charlie, cut over a three day session were some of the finest examples of the Blues music of Mississippi but the trip was not without its difficulties. On the way to Memphis the Greyhound bus that the quartet was travelling on ran off the highway with the passengers being flung from their seats. There were no serious injuries and they spent the day rehearsing the songs they were to record. Charlie continued his session work throughout the 1930s and was involved in many of the great band sessions that defined the new Chicago sound at that time, working with numerous artists such as Monkey Joe, Curtis Jones, and Memphis Minnie, amongst many others. As the 1940s began and the Chicago Blues band sound continued to refine itself Charlie was more than able to keep pace as evidenced in the fabulous back-up work he, pianist Blind John Davis, and bassist Alfred Elkins, contributed to harmonica genius Sonny Boy Williamson’s stunning session in December 1941 which was packed with classics such as ‘Black Panther Blues’, that features on this collection. Charlie continued to be active in Chicago, doing session work in 1942 with Harmon Ray, and just as all was moving along nicely he got the call from Uncle Sam and joined the war effort. By the time he returned to Chicago after the war his heavy drinking, an affliction he shared with his brother Joe, had taken a heavy toll on his health and he did not have the strength to get back into the music scene.