Such a great great jumpy blues, a hopper and a skipper for them alive ones; tappin’ away on repeat at home, too. Crudup outdoes Elvis by some 10 years. Made in Chicago.

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, voice  & guitar

Melvin Draper, drums

December, 1944


Arthur %22Big Boy%22 Crudup - Who's Been Foolin You 78rpm

There has been a long standing dispute as to the origins of the song “Key to the Highway.” It has been played and recorded by many, in many contexts: blues, folk, a capella, instrumental etc.  Big Bill Broonzy, a true Chicago blues heavyweight, recorded it in the 50’s and made it famous; some say (and some editions and histories say) that he wrote the tune as well. What I am posting here is Jazz Gillum’s version recorded in 1940 for the BlueBird label, and my favorite by far. The light, driving stomp and the warm vocals tell the simple story perfectly.

Singing and harmonica is Gillum; the sidemen are Al Collins on imitation bass and (!) Big Bill Broonzy on guitar.

The author credit on this version is listed as Jazz Gillum.

This particular 78 I found in one of Chicago’s best known antique shops. However, it is not the cleanest copy: plenty of wear to this obviously well-played record.

Jazz Gillum – Key to the Highway <<<PLAY