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Cab Calloway
Louis Prima
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Fats Waller
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Marijuana Madness 2: The Best of Vintage Drug Songs 1924–1950

Fats Waller, Lead Belly, Louis Prima, Django Reinhardt, Mezz Mezzrow, Cab Calloway, Lucille Bogan & others.
Label Fuel 2000 Records
Format cutout CD
Runtime/Release Date 68'59/2013
UPC 030206196023
Daedalus Item Code 47741
This item is not available.
Fascinating culturally as well as musically, this collection contains many tunes about "vipers," the 1930's term for a person who smoked marijuana (perhaps derived from the hissing noise made when smoking a joint). These include "Viper's Dream" by Django Reinhardt & the Quintet of the Hot Club of France and "Viper's Drag" by Fats Waller. The tone of the 23 songs can be bemused or bemoaning while the performers—ranging from society orchestras to blues or piano/vocalists to rootsy ragtime/hot jazz combos—riff on the merits/perils of cocaine, opium, heroin, and "reefer" (a synonym for a joint, which resembles a rolled sail). Highlights include "My Chinatown" by Louis Prima & His Orchestra; "Minnie the Moocher" by Cab Calloway; "When I Get Low, I Get High" by Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb; "Reefer Man" by Baron Lee & the Blue Rhythm Band; "Junker's Blues" by Champion Jack Dupree; "Pot Hound Blues" by Lucille Bogan; "A Viper's Moan" by Willie Bryant & His Orchestra; "Cocaine Blues" by Luke Jordan; "Take a Whiff on Me" by Lead Belly; "Reefer Head Woman" by Jazz Gillum & His Jazz Boys; and "Blue Drag" by Freddy Taylor & His Swing Men from Harlem.

"'Take a Whiff on Me' is a song about cocaine abuse that Leadbelly adapted from the oral tradition, and was first recorded while he was still an inmate at the Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana…. Leadbelly accompanies himself with his ever-present 12-string acoustic guitar. Following a brief guitar intro, the tempo eventually quickens as he relates a rather matter-of-fact account of the powerful effects of cocaine. Leadbelly's vocal rings strong and clear as he bellows, 'Take a whiff on me, take a whiff on me / Everybody take a whiff on me / Oh, oh everybody take a whiff on me / When I marry gonna buy me a line / Gonna whiff my baby, didn't change your mind / Oh, oh baby take a whiff on me.' For the repeated chorus line, Leadbelly's voice jumps to a high falsetto for the first line, then descends as he sings the following lines, sliding back to the original octave."—All Music Guide

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