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Chuck Berry – St. Louis To Liverpool
What did the man – captured on the cover making a giant leap – want in far off Liverpool? Perhaps some royalties from the Beatles and Rolling Stones, who performed outrageously successful cover versions of some of his most important numbers? In no way did Chuck Berry intend to surrender his rock ’n’ roll to the British Invasion without a fight, as some grouchy pessimists believed when the album first appeared. It rocks right from the very first number and one could almost believe that one was in a road movie when Berry belts out his songs about America and its people.
Clapton; Winwood; Wyman; Watts – The London Howlin Wolf Sessions
With the sixties British blues boom, which included acts such as John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, early Fleetwood Mac, and The Rolling Stones, a number of attempts were made to record the original blues masters such as Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker (actually the tradition was continued in the nineties by John Lee Hooker with his The Healer project) with some of the young upcoming “white” blues players. Unfortunately many of the projects lacked real impact (usually the recordings were done on the cheap, over short periods, with most of the young musicians simply too intimidated by their idols to offer any real creative input), however these sessions with the great Howlin’ Wolf proved to be one of the exceptions.
Mitty Collier – Shades of a Genius
At a time when the life-story of the great, blind soul singer Ray Charles is being shown in the cinema and this album by Mitty Collier is on your turntable, the question arises as to whether it wouldn’t be an excellent idea to make a film about her too. And a few more LPs would not have gone amiss either, especially since Mitty Collier’s supple, dusky voice became extremely popular thanks to a few singles which appeared on the Chess label.
Muddy Waters – At Newport
Great musical events are often born of both positive and negative energies clashing with one another. And so it was at the Newport Festival in 1960, which had already been rocked by violent tumults even before it started. The allures of commerce raised its ugly head; the Mingus Band wanted their share and named a fee that the organizers were not willing to fulfill. The echo came quickly: Charles Mingus and Max Roach organized their own festival in the near-by Cliff Walk Manor Hotel, and the "Newport Rebels" were born. Tempers escalated during the Saturday night concert and commotion broke out when masses of drunken teenagers got into a fight with the security personnel. Newport was on the brink of disaster.
Muddy Waters – The Best of Muddy Waters
By the end of the Fifties Muddy Waters had become famous enough to release a record with his own name on the cover. But that it was to be a 'Best of' album was certainly a surprise because the ink had hardly dried on his recording contract with Chess. It was as though the producers had known that with such titles as "Hoochie Coochie (Man)", "Honey Bee" and "I Want You To Love Me Muddy" had come up with blues music which would provide him and numerous cover bands with material for years to come.
Sonny Boy Williamson – The Real Folk Blues
Listen and it’s not hard to hear why a generation or two of blues-smitten rockers held him especially dear, be it the Allman Brothers (the original One Way Out, with longtime partner Robert Lockwood Jr. supplying the familiar guitar licks) or Led Zeppelin (a lugubrious, boogied-up take of Willie Dixon’s Bring It On Home). Punctuated by harp blasts that could turn from sharply staccato to lyrically wrenching, Williamson’s leathery voice muses over his being Too Young To Die or Too Old To Think with the self-deprecating indifference that became a trademark. Though these tracks are the cream of his last years, they’re more boozy celebration than elegy.