Boogie Woogie Press


Meade Lux Lewis' Honky Tonk Train: 1927-1961

by Colin Davey

The history of Honky Tonk Train is a microcosm of the history of boogie woogie piano. It was originally recorded the year before the recording of Pinetop's Boogie Woogie. This original recording sparked the interest of John Hammond in boogie woogie. Hammond sought Meade Lux Lewis for years, and finally found him working in a car wash. Hammond put Lewis in Carnegie Hall (with Ammons and Johnson) for the Sprituals to Swing concerts of '38 and '39. Lewis performed Honky Tonk Train at both of these concerts, and these concerts led to the boogie woogie craze of the 1940's. After the boogie woogie craze ended, Lewis continued to record this piece, but performed it in a wooden fashion, at a breakneck speed. The last recording took place shortly before his death.

What follows is a list of all known recordings of recordings, by Meade Lux Lewis, of Honky Tonk Train.

 
Date Comment Available on (CD unless stated otherwise) Also available on
12/27 The original Paramount recording. Meade Lux Lewis 1927-1939 (Classics 722) - trk. 1 Paramount Piano Blues, The 1927-1932 (HCD-12012) - trk. 1
11/21/35 This Parlophone recording is the most frequently reissued one. Meade Lux Lewis 1927-1939 (Classics 722) - trk. 2 Complete Blue Note, The -  Ammons/Lewis (MD2-103) - disc I, trk. 12; Boogie Woogie Stomp (CD AJA 5101) - trk. 5
03/7/37 Victor recording. Also listed as 5/7/36. Meade Lux Lewis 1927-1939 (Classics 722) - trk. 7 Barrelhouse Boogie (8334-2-RB) - trk. 1
12/23/38 First Sprituals-to-Swing concert. Boogie Woogie Boys (PY CD 21) - trk. 1 .
12/24/38 Library of Congress recording. Good performance, with improvs. Boogie Woogie Boys, The 1936-1939 (BDCD-6046) - trk. 1 .
1/3/39 Benny Goodman's Camel Caravan radio broadcast. Meade "Lux" Lewis 1939-late 1940s (DOCD-5561) - trk. 2 .
12/24/39 Second Sprituals-to-Swing concert. Boogie Woogie Boys (PY CD 21) - trk. 7 .
10/4/40 This Blue Note recording is my favorite - zippy and with improvs. Meade Lux Lewis 1939-1941 (Classics 743) - trk. 10 Complete Blue Note, The -  Ammons/Lewis (MD2-103) - disc II, trk. 4
8/43 Jubilee radio broadcast #41. Fast. First recording with "cheat" bass line. Meade "Lux" Lewis 1939-late 1940s (DOCD-5561) - trk. 9 .
8/20/44 Asch recording, originally unissued. Fast. First recording with ornate introduction. Meade Lux Lewis 1941-1944 (Classics 841) - trk. 11 .
4/22/46 From the Los Angeles concert of the Jazz at the Philharmonic tour. Fast. Meade "Lux" Lewis 1939-late 1940s (DOCD-5561) - trk. 23 .
9/46 From the movie New Orleans. Fast. Meade "Lux" Lewis 1939-late 1940s (DOCD-5561) - trk. 26 .
12/4/51 Atlantic recording. Fast. Atlantic Blues: Piano [vinyl] .
1961 From the TV show Chicago and All That Jazz, a DuPont show of the week. Fast. . .