A while back there was a thread of blues album recommendations but we have not had a detailed listing of people’s favourites of this core musical genre. For me it i the heart of all my music and the love affair goes back to the Stones Little Red Rooster, some 70s derivative Chicago blues and boogie by Aussie band Chain then getting into the heart of the matters with a compilation of early blues and the ripping slide guitar of Elmore James.
Live, the key event for me was seeing Buddy Guy and Junior Wells in about 1973 -first Afro Americans I had ever seen, Buddy in a red jump suit and Junior with a belt of harmonicas.Can still see them more than 40 years later.
Chicago /Delta blues is at the heart of my interest, with lashings of harp and slide. I dont like it too polite so Big Bill Broonzy and his ilk interest me less.
So anyway here are the favourtie records from my collection. not necessarily the ones most highly rated. Their is no BB King at the Regal – BB said it wasn’t anything special ,it was just another night on the road that happened to be recorded. And that is what I feel about BB -he is a showman first. No Muddy with Johnny Winter , though sonically great and real shout it out with a beer blues, I prefer the originals.
So,here I go. I am sure @alanbalfour will pick any mistakes up
# 1 Junior Wells – Hoodoo Man blues. 1965 Chicago blues featuring 2 upcoming stars from Muddy Waters -Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. Each complement each other and hold each other in check as both are inclined to be indulgent left to their own devices. Reissued on Delmark it is still a steady seller. you could add Southside jam, Comin’ At You, Live at Theresa’s to the list but Junior hit the piss pretty hard and tends to play the same songs. Title track Hoodoo Man blues has the feel of the title -real Hoodoo.
# 2 Muddy Waters – They Call Me Muddy Waters. Not rated particularly highly in the pantheon. for acoustic try Folk singer a superbly recorded album with Buddy Guy and Willie Dixon. For me this album just swings from the start with when the eagle flies followed by Crawling Kingsnake covered by the Doors on LA Woman. Favourite track for me is Bird Nest On the Ground. The band is just so tight and no one dominates, no histrionics, no hackneyed Mannish Boy or Mojo Working, this 1970 album won the best ethnic album in the Grammys.
# 3 A quirky selection Party Blues a compilation of blues from the 1920s on Melodeon. The theme is Party Blues i.e. dirty, lewd, double entendre stuff. Crackley, sonically poor but full of atmosphere and such a musical education. Tampa Red’s Jug Band with the gazoo and jug (2 instruments that belong in the annoying instruments thread) Blind Lemon Jefferson with Bed Spring Blues (who is this guy thought a wide-eyed 14 year old in suburban Melbourne. Mississippi John Hurt Candy Man Blues, Bo Carter All Round Man and Blind Blake’s Diddie Wa Diddie later popularised by Ry Cooder. Vale the compilation disc I say.
#4 John Lee Hooker It Serve You Right To Suffer (grammatically corrected to It Serves for some reissues . He of the spoken word stutter and over 100 albums plus a heap under various other names he kicked it off with one of the finest blues boogies in 1948 with Boogie Chillen. The trademark being his moan and that beat kept by his foot on a board.There are a mountain of greatest hits albums-simple rule -the earlier the recordings the more likely those compilations are likely to be. Forget Mr Lucky and those later period collaborations in his twilight. This album had more the feel of an album. A “folk” record originally on Impulse with 4 backing players. John Lee was too tight to keep a band and given he always changed the tempo (see Berry C) he was a challenge for pick up bands. This opens with Shake It Baby, includes the rocker Bottle Up and Go but for me the the highlight is Decoration Day. And you cant get more blues than the title can you? If you want him rockin’ out check his recordings with his greatest fans Canned Heat on One bourbon One Scotch .
#5 Gee this is tough. Apologies Otis Spann, apologies that 10 inch by Brownie McGhee, apologies Otis Rush, apologies Albert and Freddie, Charlie Patton, Bessie Smith, Reverend Gary, Jimmy Reed and the rest of em, I’m going for some raw, down home gospel infused slide driven delta blues.
Fred McDowell My Home Is in the Delta. On a bender I bought a bunch of his records and they are pretty much all the same songs played the same way.there is a good one : live in London but this has served me well. Rediscovered in the blues folk revival this was recorded in 1963. The Stones You Gotta move is his ,old time slide played, I think, with a bone for the slide at least originally. His wife Annie Mae McDowell adds vocals in a loose languid style that just evokes heat, flies and a delta verandah. You don’t get many songs called Going Down South Carry My Whip . Diving Duck blues is on this some gospel with get Right Church and possibly the loveliest song ever amazing Grace Where Could I Go (But To The Lord) and Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning that I recalled from electric Hot Tuna days.