Sunday, 4 August 2013

STAR BLUES on 4th August 2013 at 22:00

We marked the 60th anniversary  of - arguably - the turning point for 20th Century music (admittedly with a mere dalliance off the blues highway). All being well we redeemed our soul by featuring a terrific project from Lurrie Bell and a brand new track cut direct to 78 earlier this year...

Just when I think our shortlist for the STAR BLUES Album of 2013 award is a manageable length, along comes another contender; Delmark have done the biz again with Lurrie Bell showing how strong the Chicago style is these days. He has a cracking band with Matthew Skoller on harp that just about owns Otis Spann's "Blues Never Die" such is their confidence and rapport. Same label has a third project from Studebaker John Grimaldi whose group never resorts to needless noodling or artifice, his selection last night was recorded direct to 78 rpm disc. Both projects are identifiably Chicago Blues and it was an easy stretch for us to dip back into the archives for Otis Rush over on the West Side and stop by Lonnie Brooks for good measure.

Willie Johnson and Sammy Lewis drew on Little Junior Parker for their Memphis blues offering and Little Milton started his long and distinguished recording career there on the Sun label. Sam Phillips set up the Memphis Recording Service on 706 Union Avenue in 1950 and in short order hired Marion Keister as his assistant (she already had local radio experience). Their earliest recordings were leased to Modern (and Chess!!) before establishing their own imprint - Sun Records. The group of inmates who recorded as the Prisonaires was their first brush with decent sales numbers in early 1953. Round about that time a young buck was graduating High School at 18, he'd had a few guitar lessons but he didn't shine on it. He got a full-time job on a production line and his girlfriend Dixie remembered him as being shy. A couple of months later (almost certainly the first Saturday in August) he took $3.99 (plus Sales tax) to Marion at MRS to create a two track acetate so he could hear what his voice sounded like. accompanying himself on guitar he did a version of a hit 1948 ballad "My Happiness" and another country piece. Marion typed up the label for his disc by writing on the blank side of a Prisonaires single. He asked to be remembered if someone was looking for a singer and Marion noted "Good ballad singer. Hold", but he never even got to meet Sam Phillips. So they wouldn't forget him he came back regularly to chase up a gig. When nothing happened he stumped up more cash for another acetate in January 1954: two more ballad style songs.

What I find so fascinating is how the first five songs Elvis Presley (because he's the hero of our tale) made were so far removed from the Rhythm & Blues he latched onto for his more famous singles: it makes me think the trips to that particular well weren't his own idea? And what would have happened if he'd walked passed that storefront instead of venturing in, preferring to spend his $3.99 on Dixie instead? Elvis Presley became the benchmark by which everyone else was measured though he was treated as little more than chattels for long stretches of his career. His relationship with our music was problematic at best but we can't naysay what he achieved. That day (almost) exactly 60 years ago was our sidestep off the blues highway - worth taking as the rest of the world has yet to mention it. My favourite of his covers was the one he did of "Mystery Train" with arrangement and backing eerily similar to Junior Parker's original.

it was really neat to squeeze in some other far less well-known guys like Harrold Burrage, Gene Phillips and Reggie Boyd, as well as key pre-war figures like Memphis Minnie and Blind Willie McTell; Mance Lipscomb did gospel duties and Johnnie Copeland and James Armstrong (two guys known as guitarists but terrific singers too). I'm finding new old stuff all the time: you're absolutely magnificent and very kind with your invite over to your place on Sundays at 10pm. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Track.Title Track.ArtistSort Index Album.Title Album.ArtistSort Label
Hard Gamblin' Woman Lonnie Brooks 2 Let's Talk It Over Lonnie Brooks
Every Dog's Got His Day Johnny Copeland 6 It's Me Johnny Copeland Kent
Searchin' for a Woman Albert King 1 Door To Door Albert KingOtis Rush CHESS
Call My Job Steve Freund 4 Come On In This House Steve Freund 9below
You Don't Know Roomful Of Blues 7 45 Live Roomful Of Blues Alligator Records & Artist Management, Inc.
You Don't Have to Work Magic Sam 16 West Side Guitar 1957-1966 Magic Sam FLYRIGHT
Blues Never Die Lurrie Bell 14 Blues In My Soul Lurrie Bell DELMARK
Bank of Love James Armstrong 7 Dark Night James Armstrong HIGH TONE
Red Light Hound Kings, The 10 Unleashed Hound Kings, The CDBaby
My Happiness Elvis Presley 1 King Of Rock'n'roll : Complete 50's Masters Elvis Presley RCA
Mystery Train Elvis Presley 21 Let Me Tell You About The Blues: Memphis Various Artists Fantastic Voyage
Beggin' My Baby Little Milton 1 Sun Blues Box : 1950-1958 Various Artists CHARLY
Nothing But Good Reggie 'guitar' Boyd 18 Age / Chief Blues Story Various Artists FUEL 2000
Feel So Worried Sammy LewisWillie Johnson 24 Let Me Tell You About The Blues: Memphis Various Artists Fantastic Voyage
Me and My Chaauffeur Memphis Minnie 2 The Sound Of The City - Memphis Various Artists Emi Records Ltd
Barbecue Blues Barbecue Bob 12 20th Century Blues Various Artists CATFISH
Searchin' the Desert for the Blues Blind Willie McTell 11 Heavy Hitters Vol. 1 Various Artists PIGMEAT RECORDS
Piney Brown Blues Big Joe Turner 6 The Blues Boss Big Joe Turner BLUES ENCORE
gene's guitar boogie gene phillips 1-14 beating the petrillo ban 1947 various artists ace
Oh Mama Lillian Offitt 5 Age / Chief Blues Story Various Artists FUEL 2000
motherless children mance lipscomb 10 gospel classics various artists ARHOOLIE
SAY YOU LOVE ME Harold burrage 1 foxy r&b various artists ace
Bad Gasoline Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings 16 Kingsville Jukin' Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings DELMARK
Born in Chicago Butterfield Blues Band, The 1 Butterfield Blues Band / East West Butterfield Blues Band, The ELEKTRA
Created: 04/08/2013 23:47:51

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