Sunday, 10 March 2013

STAR BLUES on 10th March 2013 at 22:00

Mike Leadbitter turned 21 on 12th March 1963 and, along with his friend Simon Napier, published the worlds first English language blues magazine. BLUES UNLIMITED. A third friend John Broven wrote reviews and a feature on "record man" Jay Miller and the standard was set pretty high from the outset. Their knowledge and passion for the subject is clear, though how on earth they researched it all is a wonder I can't fathom. Records would often need to be imported with the delay that brings; and what to buy: their only clues were to trust a label or artist name they knew in the hope there'd be more of the same?

The first print run was 200, 16 pages of typed A4, no photos or adverts, selling at 1/6 - today you can expect to pay a lot more for a copy from your friendly e-auction site. That it sprang from their Blues Appreciation Society is evident in a drive toward the authentic source with a battle line already drawn up with Cyril Davies and his cohorts on the other side.

As a part time reviewer of blues myself I know the challenges of saying something meaningful in the context of other work: I have lots of books and the wobbly web to equally assist and bamboozle me, Mike Leadbitter, Simon Napier and John Broven had no such help. We can then forgive their boyish enthusiasm for some things we - with hind-sight - judge differently: the Smokey Hogg album being one of the best on the Crown label and the organ-led Muddy Waters single with whistling as one for discerning collectors are two subjective opinions in point.

Our STAR BLUES playlist stayed pretty faithfully to the content of the magazine, though I wish I'd had some other bits and pieces to hand (like something from Bull City Red and a decent Vee-Jay record from the Staple Singers). With every track starting life at 45 or 78 rpm you could say we did two vinyl hours. Plenty of highlights in the bunch that I hope will have prompted some nice recollections of a time where music enjoyment was a physical thing and the anticipation and thrill of the chase were half the pleasure. A time Bill Wyman recalled as making a trek half way across London just to see a John Lee Hooker album that someone's mate's girlfriend's brother owned. There's a smell to be had when opening a new record and trying to imagine what the artist looked like and guessing who else played on the record. I only hope I did it justice last night.

I'm planning a few more of these vinyl festivals, including one over Easter to celebrate the centenary of Muddy Waters birth - until next week take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you
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Created: 10/03/2013 23:56:10

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