Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry w/ Earl Hooker- I Can’t Believe My Eyes

Could Friday come any faster?  This was $3 and purchased to get more blues on this blog.  On a personal note, my phone was dying a slow death so I got a new I-Phone 7s.  Look at this phone.  This thing is huge.  Seriously, why so big, Apple?

Sonny Terry (1911-1986, bn Greensboro, Georgia) and Brownie McGhee (1915-1996, Knoxville, Tenn) were two prominent blues artists who frequently performed together.  Both men had to overcome obstacles in their lives.   Terry, who played harmonica, was blinded in two separate childhood incidents, where as the guitarist McGhee, lost a leg to polio at age 4.  Both men had become musicians when they met in 1939.

The duo came together in New York City in 1942.  Terry had been playing with Blind Boy Fuller whereas McGhee was greatly influenced by Fuller’s guitar. Anyway, the duo was a success both on the folk circuit (which included such luminaries as Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger) as well as blues circles.  Both artists also performed as a jump blues combo on the side.  Perhaps most casual listeners will connect the duo to their work on Steve Martin’s The Jerk.

Anyway, this album, released on the Bluesway subsidiary of ABC Records in 1973, features the duo along with guitarist Earl Hooker.  Recorded from sessions back in 1969, Hooker had passed by the time of this release.  Hooker was an early proponent of the electric guitar in blues.  Johnny Lee was also his cousin.

Anyway, 10 songs on this album, all written by either McGhee or Terry.  All pretty good.  Overall, this is a good album.  The album also features keyboard work from Ray Johnson, Jimmy Bond on bass, and Panama Francis on drums.

For sample, I could have gone in multiple directions, I think I picked about 6 songs for potential samples.  Well, after some whittling, I went with “Poor Man’s Blues” and “When I Was Drinkin”.

Good little record.  Satisfactory.

Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks- Where’s The Money?

This was all of $1.00.  I thought this was the second Dan Hicks record I owned. I was wrong. I have three.  I also thought this was the second one I posted.  Wrong again.  This is the first.

Dan Hicks passed on in February of last year.  His music is both easy and complex to describe.  On some levels, it is an exact extension of the hot jazz/ gypsy music of Django Reinhardt and the country swing of Bob Wills, plus many other genres of music, all while looking like hippies. His band the Hotlicks was formed in 1967, split in 1972, reformed sometime before 1973 and split sometime thereafter with an occasional reunion, most notably in 1991. The band was sprung from the San Francisco area where Hicks moved as a youth.  He was born in Little Rock Ark, in 1941.  See what I did there?  I did it backwards.

Dan’s Webpage

Anyway, this was his second record and it was done live. Recorded at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the album features what his webpage calls the best known lineup of the band featuring Maryann Price and Naomi Ruth Eisenberg on vocals and percussion, Sid Page on first violin and mandolin, and Jamie Leopold on Double Bass.

I was really blown away how good this album was and how eclectic it sounded on one hand while making perfect sense on the other.  The songs are all really good.  Great musicianship and great vocals.  Also , featured on the album is some of the best stage banter I have heard in a long time.

For a sample, I went with what I felt was the Best song on the record, “Caught in the Rain”.  I also went with the first track, “I Feel Like Singing” because when I first listened to it, I thought the record was skipping.  And if you really think about it, to accomplish that feat on a live record is really saying something.

Anyway, great album. Top Rated.

VA- The Great Blues Men

I got this for $3.00 at a record show in an attempt to diversify my site.  A lot of bang for the buck with this double record set.  Hopefully, this weekend, I should be getting caught up on writing posts.  I know February is a short month, but damn, did it go by quick.  Anyway, for Black History Month, as well as music history all together, I present this.

Jessie Fuller

This was a double record set released by Vanguard Records, one of the first independent record companies, founded in the 1950 by the Solomon Brothers, who released some pivotal recordings of jazz, folk, and the blues.  The kind of stuff that will no doubt be affected when funding for the arts gets cut, which could present a serious blow to a form of music that is distinctly American.

Anyway, the title of this album does not lie.  The Great Men of the Blues (and one woman) are aptly represented here as well as the many styles that define the overall genre.  Such luminaries include Muddy Waters, Lighting Hopkins, Fred McDowell, Big Bill Broozy, Otis Spann, Brownie McGee and Sonny Terry, Johnny Lee Hooker, Rev Gary Davis, Junior Wells, Mississippi John Hurt, and Son House. Really a who’s who of the blues.

Skip James

For a sample, I had various choices and could have really chosen any of the tracks from the album.  However, I decided to limit it to three.  First, one man band and inventor of the fotdella (pictured at the very top of the page), West Coast Jesse Fuller is here with his best known piece of work “San Francisco Blues” featuring what I think is the best use of a  kazoo in music.  Next is the Delta bluesman, Skip James with “Cypress Groove Blues”.  Finally, from what I think is the only artist from this album that is still alive, West Side Chicago representative, Otis Rush with “It’s A Mean Old World.

Otis Rush

Great Album- Top Rated.

Jimmy Reed- The Best Of

Here is a record that I bought for $3.  I also got a copy when I got Big Al’s record collection.  I had a friend who worked at Warren;s in town who really like Jimmy Reed.  Of course he was on the jukebox there as well.

Reed (born in Dunleith, Miss(or Leland, Miss, depending on who you believe) in 1925) was one of those artists who influenced a generation of younger rock and roll acts including the Rolling Stones, Elvis, the Yardbirds, ZZTop, and anyone else who dabbled in the blues.  Proficient on the harmonica and guitar as well as an excellent songwriter, Reed was backed up by his wife “Mama” Reed, who according to the back sleeve, would whisper lyrics to him in the studio.  Wikapedia expands on this noting his rampant alcoholism led to this development. Hard living took its toll, as Reed died in 1976 of respiratory failure.

This is a greatest hits collection from Vee Jay Records, released in 1961.   It features all his big early numbers which cemented his Chicago sound of blues. Great songs and good album.  It is Saturday and the Superbowl is in town.  Not really feeling like writing much more for this post.

So for a sample, I am going with “Big Boss Man” featuring Reed backed up by his wife, Lee baker and Lefty Bates on additional guitars, Earl Phillips on drums, and Chicago blues legend in his own right, Willie Dixon on bass.  This song has been covered by many, but it was first made a hit by Reed.

Top Rated album.  Sorry for the short post but again, it is Saturday.

Al Green- Green is Blues

As February is Black History Month, I decided to pay tribute all moth long with a collection of albums by African-Americans as well as a few African-Canadians. Last year, I highlighted the Oscars and posted soundtracks all month long.  Although I had a lot of fun with it, I felt that I did short change BHM and decided that if I made it thru another year of doing this, I would correct the issue this year. So we are kicking things off with one of the greats of soul, Al Green.  I got this album from Big Al’s collection so this is at zero cost to me.

This album, released in 1969, was Green’s second effort but his first for Hi Records and producer Willie Mitchell.  Backed by the Hi Rhythm Section, the album ushered in the new “Memphis Sound” and was a precursor of the massive success that would soon find Green in the 1970’s, making him perhaps one of the last great southern soul singers.

This album went to #19 in the US and #3 on the R&B chart.  As far as singles go, “One Woman” was released off the record but failed to do any serious action.  That being said, this is a real great album. The album is mostly covers with some new material written by Mitchell and Green.  Highlights include Smokey Robinson’s “My Girl”, “I stand Accused”, “Tomorrow’s Dream”, “Get Back Baby”, and the old Porgy and Bess standard, “Summertime”.

For sample, I originally wanted to go with the Beatles’ “Get Back”, but I was drawn to the Box Tops’ ” The Letter” which I felt was a funkier version.  Not to say the “Get Back” is not fine and dandy.  It is just ” The Letter” is much better. The more I think about it, it is the reprise on “Get Back” that makes the Beatles’ song and without it, it is a bit flat.

Satisfactory record.

Bo Diddley- In The Spotlight

So I get home after a challenging yet rewarding week of work, looking forward to relaxing the rest of this evening, when I was reminded by a conversation with my dear mother, that I have a post to write tonight.  So this should be quick. Oh yeah, I got this from Big Al.

I have been using this month to write about last month’s trip to Amsterdam.  This is the last such post.  I enjoyed doing it but they were long to write and the pictures were long to load.  But anyway, I am ending this series with one of my favorite spots in Amsterdam, Vondelpark .  Voldelpark’s greatest feature is that it is free.

Vondelpark is a 120 acre of public green in Amsterdam-Zuid, close to Museumplein. It opened in 1865 under the name Nieuwe Park .  However, a statue was put up shortly thereafter for Dutch playwright Joost van den Vondel and people started referring to the park by its current name. It currently is home to a few bar/restaurants, an open air theater, a rose garden, and bike paths.

Lot of dogs in the park and a lot of dogs off their leashes.  And for the most part, the dogs seem to behave and follow.  There were a number of old men walking the park with their small dog walking off the leash.  This blew my mind.  All my dogs were runners.

I did not know this, but apparently, in 2008, they were going to let adults be legally allowed to have sex in Vondelpark as long as they limit themselves to evening and night, don’t do it near a playground, and pick their trash when they were done.  However, Amsterdam police stated that they were not going to tolerate this and so the people who believe in common sense and the folks who believe in public fornication are at an impasse.  Either way, it is a win for those proud Dutch citizens who believe in fighting litter.

I wondered if this duck would be the same one I would be eating in three days. I thought about it hard for awhile but still ate it anyway.

So back to my trip, I found myself many mornings, starting off in Vondelpark, trying to plan out my day on a park bench.  I also brought an I-Pod with me with the songs from this month.  I recorded about 3-4 songs per album and then proceeded to listen to them until I picked out the one I would post.  They were particularly cold mornings, made even more so by the wind whipping the lake water by my favorite park bench.

It was during this when I was particularly struck by the tracks off this album.  The Bo Diddley rhythm, for one reason or another seemed to really complement the park on an overcast chilly morning.  “Travelling West”, in particular. Now that I think about it a bit, I recall during this song, the sun came up for a brief 5 minutes so this song was like a burst of joy.

This was Diddley’s fourth album and his second released in 1960.  It seems to be pretty blues heavy.  The album features “Road Runner” which was somewhat of a hit for Diddley. I believe that is Peggy Jones/ Lady Bo on rhythm guitar.

Maybe not so much as his other hits, but it got some play. There are a lot of other great songs n the album, “Live My Life”, “Craw-dad”, and “Deed and Deed I Do”  all come to mind.

I am amazed to be reminded that Diddley opened for the Clash in 1979.  If you are keeping score at home, that is to things I am amazed by in this post.  I came across this clip where Diddley kind of talks smack about them.  This is actually pretty cool. Joe’s not deaf, Bo.  He’s dead like you.

Anyway, for samples, I went with “Story of Bo Diddley”.  That is one of the things I liked about the guy; he put his own name in songs. Shameless self promoting.  There is “Hey Bo Diddley”, “Bo Diddley is a Gun Slinger”, and 1978’s little known “Bo Diddley files a Form 4868 Tax Extension”.  All joking aside, I also included “Travellin’ West”, since I mentioned it in my story earlier in the post.

Top Rated Record.  Wow, it seems that this turned out longer than I thought.  That’s the third thing that amazed me with this post.

Syl Johnson- Take Me To The River 45

pictureI normally do not post on Sunday.  It is my day of rest for this site.  However, I have been taken aback by the amount of new traffic that has been flooding my site in the last three days. I am not sure why the UK would take interest in a record blog that features albums under $5 as well as brief social commentary from a Canadian living in America, but you have. Thank you whoever you are and feel free to comment or like us on Facebook.  There should be a box in the left hand menu.  Anyway, as a way of saying thanks, I decided to roll out this post that I had in the can for a while.  This was another one of the 20 cent singles I got.  I really have not looked at singles since.  They take a lot of time to go through and are usually pretty beat.  Then again, for 20 cents what can you expect? Anyway, I was familiar with this song, most notably the Talking Heads’ version.syl-johnson

Syl Johnson, born in Holly Springs, Miss in 1936, is an American singer and guitarist.  Moving to Chicago in 1950, he planted himself within that city’s Blues scene where he was next door neighbors with Magic Sam.  Johnson played with Sam as well as Howling Wolf, Junior Wells, and Jimmy Reed. His sound would evolve into a more RnB/Soul path.  He released more than a dozen albums and more than twice as many singles.  Apart from a 2013 album, and being sampled by various Hip Hop artists, I am unsure what Johnson is doing today.

This single came out in 1975.  It was a cover of a track written by Al Green the year prior.  The label did not release the song as a single for Green.  Instead they opted it to Johnson who added a harmonica and a grittier vocal part.  The song reached #7 on the Billboard RnB chart and #48 on the overall chart. The B-side was “Could I Be Falling In Love”.030315-music-syl-johnson

From this single, here is the A Side.

6/6/97 Blues great Syl Johnson performs at the Petrillo Bandshell in Gran Park for the 14th Annual Blues Fest. (Photo by Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times) neg#97-06-135

Mich more writing than I would like to do on a Sunday but here you go.  I good gospel flavored RnB track for the day. To all the new viewers, I am not sure what you are looking for on this site, but thanks again. And please do not expect many more Sunday posts in the future.

Lou Rawls- The Best Of Lou Rawls

DSCN5070 (1024x1008)This was 80 cents.  When I bought it, i was reminded of the nonsensical internet cartoon from the Simpsons, “Lou Rawls- Secret Agent”.

However, when I wrote this post, I had received a prostate exam the same day.  Although not as intrusive as a colonoscopy, it still was not great.  I found this clip, however that made me laugh about it.  My doctor was not as smooth as Lou.

This is an early greatest hits record from Louis Allen Rawls (1933-2016).  It came out in 1974 I believe and contains about eight of his biggest hits to date including two monologues. Pretty decent stuff but then again, it is a greatest hits record.  If it was not Saturday (or probably more importantly, if not had been violated earlier today), I might have written more about Lou Rawls, this record, Chicago (where Rawls is from), or something interesting, but unfortunately for you, these two events have conspired to give you what you see here today.DSCN5069 (1022x1024)

For a sample, I went with two; “It Was A very Good Year” and “Dead End Street”.tumblr_nfwuvgTuZp1tuy8zto2_1280

Top Rated Record.

VA-The Best of the Chicago Blues

DSCN4683 (800x798)This was $3.00 for a two record set.  Plus it is a  Vanguard record which is generally pretty good.  I got it at a record show.chicago-skyline

Ah Chicago.  The third most populous city in the US.  The king of the second tier cities.  Home of the Cubs, Second City, and the blues.  A bit trite in this paragraph but then again, it is Saturday.DSCN4687 (800x796) (2)

The Blues has been a staple of Chicago music with all roads pointing to the bluesmen who immigrated to the big city from the South, most notably Mississippi.  Luminaries like Muddy Waters forged an urban sound which defined the genre. The electric guitar and harmonica are the chief drivers of this sound. Artists represented on the album include Jimmy Cotton, Junior Wells, Otis Spann, J.B. Hutto, Buddy Guy, Homesick James, Big Walter Horton, and Johnny Young,  Overall, this double album is a great collection of the blues.DSCN4686 (800x800)

I can not remember why I chose so many tunes for samples but I did so here we go.  Starting off is Buddy Guy with “Money”.  Next we have Jimmy Cotton on “Rocket 88”.  Big Walter Horton is joined on harmonica by Memphis Charlie Musselwhite and Johnny Shines on guitar for “Rockin My Boogie”.  Homesick James does “Somebody Been Talkin” with the other big name in Chicago blues, Willie Dixon on bass.  Pianist Otis Spann takes a turn with “Spann’s Stomp”.  Finally, Junior Wells (with Guy on guitar) finishes it up with “Tabacco Road”.  That is six tracks.  Kind of poor editing on my part.DSCN4684 (798x800)

Top Rated record for sure. Enjoy the plethora of samples.


Ivory Joe Hunter-The Return of Ivory Joe Hunter

DSCN4667 (800x791)This was $3.00 at a record show.  Looked pretty good and I liked the name of the singer but at the time, I had no idea who he was or what this would sound like.  I assumed blues.Ivory-Joe-Hunter1

Ivory Joe Hunter, born in Kirbyville, Texas in 1914, was a rhythm and blues singer, songwriter, and pianist.  Incidentally, Ivory Joe was his birth name.  He showed an early interest in music as a child, recording for Alan Lomax in 1933. In the 1940’s, he had his own radio show in Beaumont, Texas before eventually moving to Los Angeles.  Known as the Baron of the Boogie and the Happiest Man Alive, he had a string of hits throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s.  He recorded over 100 songs for such labels as  MGM and Atlantic as well as his own Pacific Records.

When his career in RnB declined, Hunter came back as a country singer in the late 60’s/early 70’s. This was bolstered by Sonny James making a hit recording of Hunter’s signature tune, “Since I Met You Baby”.  Hunter would die in 1974 of lung cancer.

This album, released in 1971, was a result of exposure due to James.  The album featured several of Hunter’s earlier works backed by a Memphis All Star band lead by Isaac Hayes on organ, Jackie Harvell on lead guitar, sisters Sandra and Donna Rhodes on bass and drums, and Charlie Chalmers on sax. Some critics have dumped on this album but I felt it was a pretty good mix of rhythm and blues mixed with classic country, all done with a pretty good backing band.  I liked this album.DSCN4668 (800x787)

For a sample, I was torn between so many songs on this album.  I decided take the lazy way out and to go with three samples. First is the opener, “Heartbreak and Misery”.  Next is an updated version of Hunter’s classic “Since I Met You Baby”.  Finally, I posted an awesome version of the classic “Ol’ Man River”.  All the songs are served well by the backing Memphis all star band, especially “Ol’ Man River”. Ivory-Joe-Hunter

Top Rated Album.  Why not?