The choices weren't easy and you'll have you own; here's how it worked out last night on STAR BLUES with a few words on each.
ALBUM: "Let the Blues Speak for Itself" by Chick Willis (Benevolent Records)
There is a down-home relaxed feeling to the album, especially on the cuts he does with Travis Haddix. Songs are front and centre not instrumental dexterity, the project shows Chick in a fresh light given his reputation as the Stoop Down Man.
ARTIST: Willie Big-Eyes Smith
Almost a joint prize with Pinetop Perkins I have to say. They both won a Grammy together on their "Joined At The Hip" album but the revelation for many was the return to his first instrument - the harp - by Smith. He defined the rules for blues drummers everywhere and it must have given him immense pride to have his son Kenny in the traps on that album. Big grin on the cover photo and a gentle gentleman universally loved by everyone.
By far and away the label every artist wants to be discovered by at the moment with a real set of quality albums put out by folks doing their first or second projects: Sharon Lewis, Quintus McCormick, Toronzo Cannon and so on. Add to that a top notch reissue programme that includes things like Junior Wells' "Hoodoo Man Blues" with bonus unissued cuts. Hearty congrats to a worthy winner showing that our music has a solid future.
REISSUE LABEL: Ace
For the 3rd year running the compilers have come up trumps time and time again with sumptuous packaging stuffed with photos and memorabilia. The 3 disc set on Fame Studios is but a recent example as is the first anthology of an under-appreciated player: Barbara Lynn. Ace also put out a tasty issue of Lazy Lester and the list goes on. The reissue market is as ever crowded with folks looking at recordings over fifty years old but Ace soldiers on focusing on the music and going that bit further to ensure artists and families get their dues.
LISTENER ARTIST: Seasick Steve
Huge reactions at the festivals this Summer - including guesting John Paul Jones - made him a favourite with you in 2011. Its amazing to think of a down-to-earth guy with a homemade three string guitar drawing crowds in the tens of thousands and playing them raw blues. No argument from me when Steve topped your list.
Next week on STAR BLUES, my guest is rival blues-dj Paul Jones. We sat down together in conversation and left the tape recorder on. He talks about the Blues Band, his radio show and some hair raising tales of the Sixties. I hope you can come along, we';ll be pleased to have your company. Until then - from my family to yours - please have a safe, happy and healthy Christmas and 2012. Take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you
|Christmas Date Boogie||Big Joe Turner||81||All The Classic Hits||Big Joe Turner||JSP Records|
|Please Come Home For Christmas||Johnny Winter||4||Hey Where's Your Brother?||Johnny Winter||POINTBLANK|
|Stay A Little Longer, Santa||Shemekia Copeland||13||Deluxe Edition||Shemekia Copeland||Alligator Records & Artist Management, Inc.|
|Put On A Buzz||Catfish Keith||6||Put On A Buzz||Catfish Keith||FISH TAIL|
|Frisco Blues||Bayless Rose||23||Broke Black And Blue||Various Artists||PROPER|
|Sweet Home Chicago||Honeyboy Edwards||23||Let Me Tell You About The Blues: Memphis||Various Artists||Fantastic Voyage|
|Love That Burns||Gary Moore||10||Blues For Greeny||Gary Moore||VIRGIN|
|Foggy Monday||Eddie Kirkland||6||Movin' On||Eddie Kirkland||JSP Records|
|Red, Black On Blues||Pura Fe||2||A Blues Night In North Carolina||Pura Fe||Dixiefrog|
|All My Love's In Vain||Big Head Blues Club Featuring Big Head Todd & The Monsters||9||100 Years Of Robert Johnson||Big Head Blues Club Featuring Big Head Todd & The Monsters|
|We're Gonna Boogie||Chick WillisTravis Haddix||9||Let The Blues Speak For Itself||Chick WillisTravis Haddix||Benevolent Blues|
|Two Trains Running||Marquise Knox||12||Here I Am||Marquise Knox||APO Records|
|Sadie||Quintus McCormick Blues Band||11||Put It On Me!||Quintus McCormick Blues Band||DELMARK|
|Leaving Mood||Toronzo Cannon||8||Leaving Mood||Toronzo Cannon||DELMARK|
|I Ain't Stranded - Buddy Guy||Buddy Guy||1||Hoodoo Man Blues||Junior Wells' Chicago Blues Band||DELMARK|
|Christmas Boogie||Sugar Chile Robinson||18||Mark Lamarr's Rhythm And Blues Christmas||Various Artists||ACROBAT|
|Merry Xmas||Little Willie Littlefield||12||Rhythm & Blues Christmas||Various Artists||ACE|
|Dig That Crazy Santa Claus||Oscar McLollie & His Honey Jumpers||19||Rhythm & Blues Christmas||Various Artists||ACE|
|Without A Woman||Kip Anderson||4||The Fame Studio Story 1961-1973 Home Of The Muscle Shoals Sound||Various Artists||Kent|
|Eyesight To The Blind||Pinetop Perkins & Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith||13||Joined At The Hip||Pinetop Perkins & Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith||TELARC|
|Plow My Mule||Memphis Gold||10||Pickin In High Cotton||Memphis Gold|
|You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks||Seasick Steve||2||You Can´t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks||Seasick Steve||Play It Again Sam|
|Woman Loves A Man That Can Play The Slide||Drink Small||5||Hallelujah Boogaloo||Drink Small||MUSIC MAKER|
|Can't Be Satisified||Toby Walker||11||Shake Shake Mama||Toby Walker||ltw|
|People Get Ready||Hans Theessink||16||Jedermann Remixed - The Soundtrack||Hans Theessink||BLUE GROOVE|