Blues & Hymns



Blues & Hymns



Exit Stencil Recordings is proud to announce the re-issue and licensing of the long out of print American Blues / Folk album by Cat-Iron, Cat-Iron Sings Blues and Hymns. 

Originally released on the Smithsonian Folkways label in 1958, this forgotten classic is getting it’s first US vinyl pressing since its original release. 

Cat-Iron was born William Carradine in 1898 (according to gravestone, but records say 1896) in Garden City, Louisiana. The nickname “Cat-Iron” was not a nickname he used but, rather, a mishearing of his surname on the part of folklorist Frederic Ramsey, Jr. Little has been written about the artist but we know he was married and served as a private in the U.S. Army during World War I. 

As the story goes Ramsey had a chance meeting with the alto saxophone player Thurman Monroe. When he heard that Ramsey was looking to record some authentic Blues / Folk down in Louisiana, he suggested they venture down to visit William Carradine. When the duo arrived at Cat-Iron’s house on Buckner’s Alley in Natchez, they had to coax him to play a few songs, with Cat-Iron even remarking, “I got no guitar...” 

Having converted to Christianity, Cat-Iron originally balked at the idea of playing any blues songs. However, with persistence and fellowship, Ramsey was able to cull a collection that is equal parts blues numbers and equal parts sacred - all recorded right in Cat-Iron’s living room. 

As Ramsey stated in the original linear notes, “Cat Iron might be singing religion, but he was playing it with the heart of a blues-man.” 

When Exit Stencil re-issued 15-60-75 (The Number’s Band)’s, Jimmy Bell’s Still In Town, back in 2013, we became so enthralled with the title track that we worked backwards to the song’s originator, which is often credited as Cat-Iron. Robert Kidney loaned us his original 1958 copy of the record and we started the process with Folkways to make this a living, breathing record once again. 

The record is being reissued in a on translucent yellow vinyl - just like the original press. Includes a faithful reproduc- tion of the 8 page booklet and linear notes authored by Frederic Ramsey, Jr. 

“He doesn’t seem to defer to any blues conventions, his guitar playing is as personal as handwriting; raw, nuanced and with- out regard for any one popular blues paradigm... he appears transfixed, as if his music has transported him somewhere else entirely. To the future perhaps.”
- Record Collector 

“For vinyl lovers who never crossed paths with the original artifact, this reissue will be a real boon.” 

- No Depression 

“Finally, the third time the blues shook my foundations, altered my perceptions and really got me excited again was yester- day; yesterday, I heard Sings Blues and Hymns by William “Cat-Iron” Carradine and it put the devil back in me.”
- Ground Control Magazine 

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