HARDHOUND

Charley Patton – Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues

Author: Colin | Published: 25/4/09

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Artist Charley Patton
Title Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues
Label Revenant
Year 2001
Designer Susan Archie: art direction and design, additional design and layout: Henry H. Owings, illustration: Potsy Duncan
Music The Blues
Notes Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues is such a playful, generous, imaginative design that it’s difficult to know where to start. It is an over-sized object that consists of box, binder, paperback treatise by John Fahey on Patton attached to the inside sleeve, lengthy and informative essays, pages of stickers reproducing the original record labels, numerous illustrations and photographs as well as the CDs themselves attached to 78-sized card mounts contained in facsimiles of the original sleeves. The whole package is based upon the original album format that collected 78s together in a single binder.

There’s perhaps a deliberate and certainly pleasing irony, that Patton (whose legacy survived on poor quality recordings and was eclipsed by Robert Johnson’s tragic story/mythos) should be afforded such luxurious treatment. A similar tension exists around the likes of Goodbye, Babylon and Albert Ayler’s Holy Ghost box.

Archie has spoken of the challenge to produce a design for an artist of whom there is but a single remaining photograph. She riffs on this through a variety of treatments and period illustrations. Note particularly the use of the ‘masked marvel’ illustration on the outer box (one of Patton’s songs was marketed thus by the record company) which is revealed unmasked in the same roundel on the binder.

There’s something monumental about this examination of a historical figure who might otherwise have slipped into obscurity. The crackle of the recordings actualises the time and distance spied in the imagery, design and informed consideration of Patton’s art. In a related vein, Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues exists as an admirable bulwark against the increasing virtualisation of the medium.


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