bluebird mcclennan bottle«Step it up and go » does ring a bell for you ? The song goes back (first recording) to 1932 by a jug band, but was cut well into the Fifties as a Hillbilly classic.

First Picaninny Jug Band of Dallas cut « Bottle it up and go » in 1932 on the Varsity label. I don’t know if the song was a success then, but it was revised several years later by the Memphis Jug Band (on Okeh, 1934) with Will Shade on vocal and guitar. Tommy Mc Clennan on Columbia (November 1939) as « Bottle it up and go », then in March 1940 by Blind Boy Fuller as « Step it up and go » (Vocalion or Columbia). In the meantime Sonny Boy Williamson (John Lee Williamson) had recorded it in May 1937 as »Got the bottle up and gone » (with vocal by Robert Lee McCoy, aka. Robert Nighthawk) on Bluebird. So after the Picaninny Jug Band, this must be the source where all the followers came. Leadbelly also came with his own version in September 1948 (Folkways).


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Varsity Pincanniny-Jug-Band bottle


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Picaninny Jug BandBottle it up and go” (1932)








Sonny Boy Williamson, “Got the bottle up and gone” (1937)

Tommy McClennan, “Bottle it up and go” (1939)


Blind Boy Fuller, “Step it up and go” (1940)


Maddox Bros. & RoseNew step it up and go” (Four Star, 1950)


Big Jeff and the Radio Playboys (Dot, 1951)


Harmonica Frank Floyd (Chess, 1951)


Carl Story (Columbia, 1953)


Big John Greer, “Bottle it up and go” (Groove, 1955)


In September1950, the Maddox Bros. And Rose adopted the song on 4 Star as « New step it up and go » (with Don Maddox on vocal and fiddle, and interjections by Rose and the other members), obviously based on Blind Boy Fuller’s version. In July 1951 Harmonica Frank Floyd cut his own version for Sun (Chess 1475) while in 1953 Carl Story had « Step it up and go » as a-nearly-rockabilly version (strong lead guitar, but nice mandolin solo by Red Rector) on Columbia. Finally both Big John Greer (on Groove, 1955, with Mickey Baker on guitar) and John Lee Hooker (on Impulse) had « Bottle it up and go » or « Bottle up and go ». Even Mac Wiseman had his version in 1956 on Dot.

The original words were added by anybody’s verses, and as in many a blues song, the tune became this way a classic, still done these days.

Tommy McClennan’s lyrics :

Yes, yas?? Got to bottle it up an go?Got to bottle it up an go?Now, ’em high-power women?(guitar) Yeah??Now, she may be old?Ninety year?She ain’t too old?For the shift them gears??She gots (guitar)?’Got to do what, tell me ‘gain?’?’Got to bottle it up and go’?Now, them high power women -Yeah!??Now, I told my girl?Week ‘fore last?The gate she jus’ came in?Just a little too fast??She had to bottle it up an go?She had to bottle it up an go’d?An them high-power women?(guitar) Yes, yeah??Now, the nigger and the white man?Playin’, set ’em up?Nigger beat the white man?Was scared to pick it up??’He had the bottle up and do what?’?Had to bottle it up and go?And them high-power women?(guitar) Yeah??Now, look-a-here, baby?You stay last night??Ain’t none a yo’ business?You don’t do me right? – ‘You got t’?(guitar)?’Gotta do what??Tell me again, I don’t understand?’?I’ve got the bottle up and go’d?I ain’t gon’ bother with ’em?Now, them high-power women?Yeah??Now, nickel is a nickel?A dime is a dime?I don’ need no girl?If she want wine? She has to?(guitar)?Had do what??Had to bottle up and go?And them high-power women Yeah??Now, my mama killed a chicken?She thought it was a duck?She put him on the table?With the legs stickin’ up??He had-a (guitar)?Had to do what??He had the bottle it up and go’d?An them high-powered women?Sho’ got the bottle up and gone??’Yeah, play it man-a??Be-da, bee, bop, bop, bop?Bo, de-dum, be-dum, bop, bop?Bo, bom, bom, bom, bom?Bee-da, bee-um, bop-um, bop-um, bop?Bo, bop-um, bop-um, bop-bop, be-ba?T-dee-da, t-dee-da?T-da-da-da (guitar)Yeah! Uh-huh!??Got the bottle up and go?Got the bottle up and go?Now, you high-power women?Sho’ got to bottle ’em up and go.?

Research done mainly from Internet: google, collector’s frenzy, Youtube. Bibiographical research: Leslie Fancourt, “Blues discography 1943-1973”, Godrich/Dixon “Blues & gospel records 1902-1943”. “Sun records, the discography”. Notes to Big Jeff Bess BF CD. Notes to Carl Story from “Columbia 20000” (Willem Agenant site)


columbia story stepchess floyd step

dot jeff stepgroove greer step

Mac Wiseman “Step it up and go” (Dot, 1957)


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Mac Wiseman-Step It Up And Go-1956






Addition, March 2nd 2017. As you surely all know, the Internet world is a bottomless pit. I just found four Rock’n’roll versions of this classic. First BOB DINGUS, a really obscure artist, cut his teeth on the song in 1961, on the Washington, D.C. Florentine label (# 100). This was recorded in Vernon Wray’s studio, although there is no obvious involvement of Link Wray. Quite an ordinary version it is (good vocal, but a really uninspired guitarist) and no writer’s credit at all. Way back in June 1956 on the West coast, RUDY (RAY) MOORE offered a nice pounding R&B version on Federal 12276, moreover taking here the writer’s credit. Then the EVERLY BROTHERS had their version in 1963 on a W.B. EP. Quite a modern version. Finally do come the HI-TONES on the Memphis Allandale label # 3669 (a Style-Wooten production – credit goes to an Eugene Alexander) from 1972 (written on the label), and it’s a driving version, even not spoiled by the organ throughout.

All in all, STEP IT UP AND GO, and its alternate versions, has been really a successful theme since the ’30’s.