Sunday, 24 November 2013

STAR BLUES on 24th November 2013 at 22:00

In a few days John Mayall will be 80 and his "Beano" album just won a lifetime award. His Bluesbreakers outfit brought us music from Memphis Slim, Sonny Boy Wiliamson, Magic Sam, JB Lenoir and more. It is difficult to get very far looking him up in reference works without running into one or other of the bunch of notorious gunslingers he had in his band. While we had one apiece from Eric, Peter and Mick it was his heroes who interested STAR BLUES last night. So it was we had fine piano work from Clarence Lofton and Big Maceo; as well as more familiar souls such as Ray Charles and Robert Johnson.

The music we chose reflected John's own selections he lists on his website - echoing his enthusiasm for the originators of our music in whatever style. Given his knowledge of Freddy King's work for Federal (and how those guitarists plunged into cover versions of same) we were slightly taken aback by John's mention of the 1970s Freddy King reading of Don Nix's 'Going Down' - we went with it anyway. The 'Crusade' album was credited to Mayall without Bluesbreakers and he wrote a moving tribute song to JB Lenior who'd just died - we concur with his dismay at how sparsely the death had been noted anywhere.

By all accounts he was a hard task master and is said to travel in a car up the motorways while his band mates hunkered down with the gear in a transit van. His longevity in the business and his nurturing of others talents paid off for them and he has been the conduit to the baseline of blues for so many - it's pointless in debating his management style. STAR radio's rock god Neil Jones caught up with John on the way to [pick up that award for the Beano album, and the wily old campaigner nimbly dodged Neil's questions on his famous acolytes: he confirmed his perennial love for playing live and I think there's a star studded bash planned for his birthday.

In other blues, we had a cut from Dave Riley's third project with Bob Corritore showing the wizard has done it again. There's a simple approach with tight four man instrumentation rooted in Chicago blues. I almost played the wryly humourous song about the BP oil spill which may not really be suitable for young ears. You have to hear it. Eddie Taylor was a prolific sideman for John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed but he was no slouch as band leader for his own singles - fantastic challenge awaits someone in compiling a definitive box set of Eddie's work.We found Little Richard as an accompanist to Christine Kittrell and Julia Lee was elegantly playful with her boyfriends.

There's not much known about the fine Detroit singer Lena Hall who cut just two sides under her own name, she was helped by Washboard Sam and we had one of hers on the show. I've been on FB off and on and seen a thread asking for more information about her; I couldn't help with a full identification but I knew I had that single in my collection. That was about it until 10pm this upcomng Sunday; as we lurch into December we'll start putting together some lists to suggest to Santa on the off chance you get onto his "nice" list (or even if you join me over on the "naughty" one). 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
the stumble john mayalls bluesbreakers 3 a hard road john mayalls bluesbreakers decca
Stroll Out West Eddie Taylor 10 Bad Boy Eddie Taylor CHARLY
Come On, Pts. 1 & 2 Earl King 3 Come On: The Complete Imperial Recordings Earl King Okra-Tone Records
Long Distance Call Muddy Waters 20 Reborn And Remastered Muddy Waters ROUGH GUIDES
Home In Chicago Dave Riley And Bob Corritore 6 Hush Your Fuss! Dave Riley And Bob Corritore Vizztone
every night of the week christine kitrell 2-20 just about as good as it gets little richard smith & co
I'm A Mojo Man Pee Wee Trahan 14 Boppin' By The Bayou - Volume 3 More Dynamite Various Artists ACE
Steppin' Out Eric Clapton With John Mayall 11 Bluesbreakers Feat. Eric Clapton John MayallEric Clapton DERAM
Checkin' Up on My Baby John Mayall 12 Crusade John Mayall DECCA
when i am drinking JB Lenoir 22 rhythm rockin' blues various artists groovesound
Streamline Train 'cripple' Clarence Lofton w. Red Nelson 6 The Best Of Boogie Woogie Various Artists DOCUMENTS
worried life blues Big Maceo 3-22 history of rhythm and blues Various Artists rythm and blues
Hell Hound on My Trail Robert Johnson 5 Contracted To The Devil Robert Johnson SONY / LEGACY
Going Down Freddie King 18 Old Grey Whistle Test Blues Various Artists - Old Grey Whistle Test Blues Wm UK
What'd I Say Ray Charles 12 Atlantic Rhythm And Blues 1947-1974: Volume 4, 1957-1960 Various Artists Atlantic / Wea
Don't Start Me Talkin' Sonny Boy Williamson (Aka Rice Miller) 11 The R'n'b Hits Of 1955 Various Artists CASTLE
Snatch and Grab it Julie Lee & Her Boyfriends 20 The History Of Rhythm And Blues Volume Two 1942-1952 Various Artists Rhythm and Blues Records
V-8 Baby Tommy Brown 9 Let Me Tell You About The Blues: Atlanta Various Artists Fantastic Voyage
Need Your Love So Bad Little Willie John 3 The History Of Rhythm & Blues, Volume 3 - The Rocknroll Years Various Artists Rhythm and Blues Records
five long years lena hall 3-24 let me tell about the blues various artists fantastic voyage
You Don't Have To Go Jimmy Reed 12 The Anthology Jimmy Reed NOT NOW
I'm a Rattlesnakin' Daddy Blind Boy Fuller 4 The Essential Blind Boy Fuller ALLEGRO
this maybe the last time staple singles 19 sound of the city: chicago various artists emi
Since I Met You Baby Ivory Joe Hunter 22 The R&b Years - 1956 (Vol. 2) Various Artists BOULEVARD VINTAGE
in the night prof. longhair 2-7 mardi gras in new orleans prof. longhair jasmine
Shout for Joy Albert Ammons 1 Boogie Woogie Various Artists OBJECT
Red Cherries Floyd Dixon 48 Complete Aladdin Recordings Floyd Dixon Capitol
She's My Baby Peppermint Harris 4 Sittin' In With ... Peppermint Harris MAINSTREAM
Created: 24/11/2013 23:43:12 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

STAR BLUES on 17th November 2013 at 22:00

Several birthdates since I last sat here: Bobby Rush is now 73 and leads our celebrations that include Hubert Sumlin, Carey Bell and Candye Kane. Rush is criminally under-known outside the African-American community, yet his current album is as good as you're likely to hear in or out of the genre this year. He tours unceasingly with his own band and revue giving gig-goers a show they'll cherish. Check the ten year old Memphis film in the PBS Blues series for a fascinating insight into the workings of his craft.

Hubert was beloved and universally described as a "sweet man", generous with time and talent; known for his long tenure with Howlin' Wolf there was a feisty choppiness in his playing which he retained into his career as band leader in his own right (we went to his 1989 project for Blind Pig). Carey had a unique squall in his harp style, he was lead player in Muddy Waters band and I'm told he'd cover his instrument rather than let another player learn his secret. Some of his last recordings were done for Alligator and our choice gave him chance to stretch out.

Candye Kane is a remarkable woman who has overcome many challenges that would best lesser mortals - in every sense of the word she is a survivor with a fascinating story. Her new album was cut live in analog at 33rpm, it shows off a slight husky tone to her robust singing undercut with Laura Chavez' (at times brutal) guitar. We placed her in our running order alongside Lavern Baker (another anniversary of birth date) whose "Jim Dandy Got Married" for Atlantic clearly defined the connection in form between them. Mojo Buford was the harp play in Muddy's band at the pivotal Ann Arbor festival, he was also on the "Unk in Funk" album which was at the tail end of Waters' tenure at Chess. Buford was one of the classic players taken under the metaphorical wing of John Stedman for a set put out on JSP in 1989 - he had a fluid dynamic all his own (when he tried to learn from LittleWalter, he was rebuffed by the master who instructed him to just listen and play for himself).

We mentioned sonnyandbrownie for their on and off-stage interaction and we played a piece they did for Bob Shad in 1948. Piano duties were done in New Orleans by Fats Domino and the Shuffling Hungarians of Professor Longhair. I got a nice reminder about Curtis Jones during the week through FB and fortuitously walked into a proper record shop next day to find and buy his "Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" produced by birthday boy Mike Vernon. It isn't the best starting point for the man as his rudimentary guitar technique undermines his solid piano and clear vocals he made his name with.

The gospel tent had the Swan Silvertones with a great example of the pliability and power of the human voice. We didn't forget guitar technicians by any stretch of the imagination - a quintessential outing for Guitar Slim defined the term "blues guitar". Albert King, Hop Wilson and Johnny Shines' genius were similarly masterful, while wily old dogs John Lee Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins boogied for all their worth.

Those two hours were soon gone and we will have a short chat with John Mayall on next week's STAR BLUES to tie in with his upcoming 80th birthday - until then take care of yourself and take care of those that take care of you

track.title track.artistsort index album.title album.artistsort label
things i used to do guitar slim 1-30 cosimo matassa story various artists proper
be on your merry way Albert King 1 Ultimate Collection Albert King RHINO
Another Kind of Fool Bobby Rush 1 Look At What You Gettin' Bobby Rush DEEP Rush
Little Bluebird Johnnie Taylor 11 Wanted One Soul Singer Johnnie Taylor Atlantic
Sittin’, Drinkin’ and Thinkin’ (1954 Sun) Little Junior Parker 15 Ride With Me, Baby: The Singles 1952-1961 Little Junior Parker Fantastic Voyage
Let's Get Together Jimmy McCracklin 11 Modern Recordings, Vol. 2: Blues Blastin' Jimmy McCracklin ACE
She Just Won't Sell No More Wynonie Harris 19 Jump Mr Blues Wynonie Harris Fantastic Voyage
jim dandy got married Lavern Baker 12 soul on fire lavern baker ATLANTIC
i'm the reason you drink Candye Kane 3 comin' out swingin' Candye Kane vizztone
She's My Baby Fats Domino 6 Early Imperial Singles 1950-1952 Fats Domino ACE
Bye Bye Baby Professor Longhair 1-13 Mardi Gras In New Orleans Professor Longhair JASMINE
Statesboro Blues Taj Mahal 2 Taj Mahal Taj Mahal COLUMBIA
Key to the Highway Jazz Gillum 5 Sweet Home Chicago Various Artists INDIGO
The Gallows Pole Odetta 20 Crime And Punishment Various Artists Fantastic Voyage
Bring Your Love to Me Hubert Sumlin 2 Prime Chops. Blind Pig Sampler Various Artists BLIND PIG RECORDS
Every Dog Has His Day Pee Wee Crayton 11 Cosimo Matassa Story Various Artists Proper Box
Black Spider Blues Robert Lockwood Jr. 4 20th Century Blues Various Artists CATFISH
House Rent Blues John Lee Hooker 15 Complete Folk Blues John Lee Hooker MCA
Come Home Baby Mojo Buford 8 State Of The Blues Harp Mojo Buford JSP Records
LET YOUR HAIR DOWN Curtis Jones 7 Complete Blues Horizon Sessions Curtis Jones COLUMBIA
Dynaflow Blues Johnny Shines 3 Ramblin' Blues Johnny Shines ORBIS BLUES COLLECTION
The Panama Limited Bukka White 23 Let Me Tell You About The Blues: Memphis Various Artists Fantastic Voyage
Double Cross Carey Bell 2 Good Luck Man Carey Bell Alligator
my baby's got a black cat bone hop wilson 15 rhythm rockin' blues various artists groovesource
oh mary don't you weep swan silvertones 1-20 sound of the city: chicago various artists emi
Sittin' on Top of the World Sonny TerryBrownie McGhee 8 Hometown Blues Sonny TerryBrownie McGhee MAINSTREAM
wild wild woman johnny young 17 Let's Have A Blues Ball! Various Artists ACE
early morning boogie lighnin hopkins 16 rhythm rockin' blues various artists groovesource
Created: 17/11/2013 23:59:40 

Monday, 11 November 2013


Britain's Other Blues show lead the way in being first to mark the fiftieth year this month since the shooting in Dallas of President Kennedy. We wanted to place those events in the context of the blues experience - ahead of what will unfortunately be a festival of ballyhoo about conspiracy theories and his celebrity lifestyle. The BBC is even promising a minute-by-minute reenactment; I've talked to folks who genuinely thought a nuclear war would start the next day.

I put some tracks into the playlist to set the scene by what was on the R&B charts in 1963: timeless music from Bobby Bland, Jackie Wilson and Little Johnnie Taylor made top spot (and weirdly / interestingly the R&B charts ended a week or so after the assassination). In May 1963 Elmore James died, in August Howlin' Wolf cut a classic session and in the summer Muddy Waters returned to his "unplugged" roots with Buddy Guy for his "Folk Singer" album. JFK was trying to find a way through some difficult times at home and overseas and he edged towards 1000 days in office.

Shortly after noon his motorcade turned right into Dealey Plaza and up towards the Texas Book Depository. In front of the building they turned left and moved away - within a few minutes the President was shot dead.

In the coming weeks of this half-centenary you'll hear and see plenty of theories and facts: his sudden death was felt particularly deeply in the African American community who were starting to believe that much needed change in Civil Rights legislation was coming. Boss of Testament Records, Pete Welding, became aware of a number of blues and gospel artists who had written songs about JFK the man and how they felt about his killing. The result was an album "Can't Keep From Crying " which was released in April 1964.- we featured just about all of it last night (just leaving out one of the versions of "Poor Kennedy" by Avery Brady). Husband and wife team James and Fannie Brewer did three songs and Otis Spann was cut twice. Johnny Young and Big Joe Williams captured the mood in their distinctive playing.

There's a full description of the artists and songs in a fine book compiled by the Dutch researcher Guido van Rijn ": Kennedy Blues ", this is a comprehensive survey of blues songs on contemporary themes recorded during the years of Kennedy's term in the Oval Office. There are similar books on all the US presidents since 1900 and the JFK one is particularly poignant.

I don't have a real sense of what actually happened and Guido's book and Pete's album have helped me understand how it affected a big part of America. I can't find a parallel for those events in my own purview and if we are lucky nothing like it will happen again.

My grateful thanks are extended to so many folks (who know who they are) for their help and patience while I did the background stuff for this edition of STAR BLUES; and to the Mighty Mark Peters and his team at Star Radio in Cambridge for doing this on commercial FM radio in the UK. The normal service of trivia, tomfoolery and blues will be back at 10pm (GMT) next Sunday until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Sunday, 3 November 2013

STAR BLUES on 3rd November 2013 at 22:00

RIP Bobby Parker who we remember with some of his classy early singles and celebrating Birdlegg who is on the cover of both Living Blues and Blues&Rhythm magazines this month. A track from new projects by Toronzo Cannon and Jackson Sloan. The latter has already been described here as quite possibly the coolest man working the live British Blues circuit - he writes and sings in that good old fashioned way, no hanging around, take no prisoners with a voice which reminds me of the great Walter Brown.

Toronzo wears a sharp suit and plays a gorgeous powder-blue flying V guitar left-handed; his songs are nicely turned observations showing the currency of bang upto date Chicago blues. His new album on Delmark "John The Conquer Root" is a goodun. If you had any notions of what an artist called "Birdlegg" could be, be glad you checked those ideas at the door - he is a man schooled in the ways of Sonny Boy Williamson and Sonny Terry, dressed in white shirt tie and flat cap he is a cracking live performer and he is now part of the Dialtone outfit profiled in the new B&R magazine. His self-titled project was featured on last night's STAR BLUES - though he has Omar Dykes on guitar there's no room for any single instrument to outshine any other, this is ensemble playing nicely arranged. Label owner Eddie Stout runs a tight ship and his unerring passion for the music has done it again.

Bobby Parker died on Thursday and just about every obituary makes much of his 1961 hit for V-tone called "Watch Your Step" and how both the Beatles and Led Zeppelins riffs wore the influence. Our four selections from the same era proved he was already working at that level of consistency with achingly soulful vocal cut through with caustic guitar. His "Blues Get Off my Shoulder" still tingles my spine. We didn't get chance to dip into his latter period recordings for Black Top and he was gigging right through the summer. it's been especially tough this year after Bobby Bland, Magic Slim and Jimmy Dawkins each man leaves a huge hole.

Maxwell Davis did stuff under his own name and as sax-man, band-leader and arranger he graced dozens of top-notch 50's recordings by the likes of B. B. King. we chose Young Jessie's best known hit from the anthology newly out on Fantastic Voyage. Same outfit has another rummage around the soulful side of Detroit and I never need much excuse to play Singin' Sammy Ward (this time his "Part Time Love"). The selection is complied by soul-expert (and writer and dj) Clive Richardson which is a measure of quality in my book. Another distinctive voice who never delivers less than the best was that of Earl Gaines, we went back to Nashville in 1959 for his session. Little Milton was on Checker for a moving vocal performance, B B King's "Letter" was a single originally, ripe for repicking by the Bihari Brothers for their budget Crown label series of albums. Sonny Boy Williamson popped over, Lou Rawls earliest gospel roots were on show and Little Brother Montgomery owned the piano keys at Vicksburg.

The rule of the show during the Vinyl Hour is for songs which were first cut for 45 or 78 revs; our Etta James track was done for an album and the second Birdlegg track was there too. Talk of rules at the top end of the shop came about Sonny Rhodes (who had a birthday on 3rd November). Until 9/11 he wore a turban and these days its a stetson. When I heard his 3 song session for Paul Jones in Feb, 1992 I thought it was the law to play guitars standing up. The piercing lap steel on Lee Dorsey's "Ya-Ya" blew that theory even though I had no idea what a lap-steel was. From there I found Hop Wilson and the Rev, Lonnie Farrish - the rest is h....

Our STAR BLUES next week (10th Nov) marks the 50th year of President JFK's shooting; Pete Welding's album on Testament forms the basis of the show as it chronicles the African-America experience of the event and it's aftermath. I hope you'll let me round your place for what promises to be a fascinating look back at one of the Century's defining  moments and the reaction in the African American community. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

before you accuse meMagic Slim & The Teardrops1essentialMagic Slim & The TeardropsBLIND PIG RECORDS
THE THINGS I WANT YOU TO DOA. C. Reed11I'm In The Wrong BusinessA. C. ReedAlligator
Ya YaSonny Rhodes7Disciple Of The BluesSonny RhodesWild Dog
shametoronzo cannon6JOHN the conquer roottoronzo cannondelmark
98c in the BankJohnnie Marshall198 Cents In The BankJohnnie MarshallJSP Records
You Up Set My MindtBirdlegg7BirdleggBirdleggDIALTONE
Blues Get Off My ShoulderBobby Parker145sBobby Parkervarious
Don't Drive Me AWAYBobby parker945sbobby parkervarious
Three Times SevenEarl Gaines624 Hours A DayEarl GainesBLACK MAGIC
why don't you let me knowjackson sloan10shack sessionsjackson sloanSHELLAC
won't be backlourawls and chosen gospel singers2-24gospel celebritiesvarious artistsfantastic voyage
Your LetterB. B. King4B. B. King The Crown Recordings: Disc 5 : Blues In My HeartB. B. KingACE
Blind ManLittle Milton3Stand By MeLittle MiltonORBIS BLUES COLLECTION
There's Something About My BabyBobby Marchan3Get Down With It The Soul Sides 1963-67Bobby MarchanKent
Blinded By LoveEtta James9Etta Is Betta Than Evvah!Etta JamesKent
part time lovesingin' sammy ward1-25soul: detroitvarious artistsfantastic voyage
mary louyoung jessie feat. maxwell davis3-28wailin' daddymaxwell davisfantastic voyage
Number WriterDan Pickett22Shake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953,Various ArtistsJSP Records
Sloppy Drunk BluesBumble Bee Slim (Aka Amos Easton)19The EssentialBumble Bee Slim (Aka Amos Easton)CLASSIC BLUES
vicksburg blueslittle brother montgomery2-11history of rhythm and blues vol. 1various artistsrhythm and blues
Steal Your Heart AwayBobby Parker9Uk Sue Label Story, Vol. 4Various ArtistsKent (U.K.)
Watch Your StepBobby Parker25R&b Spotlight '61Various ArtistsFantastic Voyage
Don't Set Down At The TableBirdlegg9BirdleggBirdleggDIALTONE
Your Funeral and My TrialSonny Boy Williamson11Crime And PunishmentVarious ArtistsFantastic Voyage
youy don't love mewillie cobbs145s