Saturday, December 1, 2007

Candy Cane Children

Candy Cane Children

I know what your are saying. . . "Is this the 'Blues of the Month' or the "Semi-Annual Blues' blog ?"
Nag, nag, nag. I've been busy - back off.

Tis the season. Ho Ho Ho . . . sorry - we're not allowed to say that any more.

On with the tunage . . .

Santa Claus Is Back In Town
Elvis Presley
Christmas Album - 1957
It'd be very easy to dismiss Elvis. The sequin suits, the bad movies, the badge from Nixon, etc. Never forget, however, that he was one hell of a blues singer. Don't believe me? Ask Howlin' Wolf - "He started from the blues. If he stopped, he stopped. It's nothing to laugh at. He made his pull from blues". Wolf wouldn't lie to you.

Christmas Time, Pt. 1
Billy Boy Arnold & the Duke Robillard Band
20th Century Masters - The Christmas Collection: Blue Christmas - 1979

It's Christmas Time
Cedell Davis
It's Christmas Time - 2006
Dude only has one good hand!
He plays with his left and uses his right, crippled hand for the slide. I couldn't play a guitar this well with four.

Christmas Morning Blues
Kansas City Kitty
Where Will You Be Christmas Day? - 1934
Kansas City Kitty. Hmmm . .. great name for a stripper, no?

Please Come Home For Christmas
Charles Brown
Charles Brown Sings Christmas Songs - 1960
No, this in not Charlie Brown's Christmas, which, if you are into jazz, is quite good. Charles Brown was Ray Charles, before Ray Charles was Ray Charles.

Swollen X-Mas
2005 SSM Holiday Compilation - 2005
I know nothing about this band at all. I suspect they are local - this is from a label located in Livonia - Suburban Sprawl Music - that specializes in local indie pop/rock bands. This is got a definite blues feel to it. Not really sure if it's about Christmas, however - can't understand a word he's singing . . .

Lonesome Christmas
Lowell Fulson
Bullseye Blues Christmas -
Lowell Fulson is such an awesome artist he's included twice on this disc, not to mention I named my last dog after him. My pet's have included Earnest "Big" Crawford (dog), Willie Dixon (cat), Brownie McGhee (bird, which was eaten by Willie Dixon), Chester A. Burnette (Howlin' Wolf's real name - dog), Sunnyland Slim (goldfish, which Mrs. Otisredn accidentally boiled) and Muddy Waters (a fat cat).

Good Morning Blues
Ella Fitzgerald
Jingle Bell Jam: Jazz Christmas -
The First Lady of Song . . .

Poor Mr. Santa

Andre Williams

Poor Mr. Santa - 1997
Andre Williams is a Detroit R&B singer from the late 50's. He is best known for the songs "Bacon Fat" & "Jail Bait". Recommended listening. He released two versions of this song - one 'nice' and one 'naughty'. I'll let you
figure out which one this is.

By the way, I've included a picture of Andre's blue balls for you ->

Blue Christmas

Meditation Singers
Checker # 5057 - 1968
Not the "Blue Christmas" you are thinking of. This is a different, gospel song with a strong blues vibe.

Merry Christmas Baby
Bonnie Raitt & Charles Brown

A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 2 - 1992
This song is now so pervasive it has almost become a Christmas standard, like "Silver Bells" or "Winter Wonderland". Not bad for a blues song . . .

If Christmas Can Bring You Home

Reigning Sound

Home For Orphans - 2005
Reigning Sound is a very cool neo-garage band from Memphis. The leader, Greg Cartwright, has worked with many others including Mary Wiess (member of the Shangrilas) and my other love, the Detroit Cobras (which you can see has been equally ignored as much as this blog).

Deck The Halls With Boogie Woogie

Katie Webster
The Alligator Records Christmas Collection - 1992

Baby, It's Cold Outside
Ray Charles & Betty Carter

Ray Charles and Betty Carter - 1961
This is a pop classic which Ray turns into a blues boiler by slowing it down and adding some punchy horn charts.

Santa Claus Is Definitely Here to Stay
James Brown
James Brown's Funky Christmas - 1970
It was Christmas last year when we lost James Brown. James is another artist, like Elvis, you could easily dismiss for his public persona. But musically, he was a giant. We'll visit him more in future discs.

Sandy Claw Stole My Woman
Bobby Parker

Blues, Mistletoe & Santa's Little Helper - 1995

I Wanna Spend Christmas With You
Lowell Fulson

Jingle Blues -

The Twelve Blue Days of Christmas
Jack De Keyzer
Santa's Got Mojo! - 2002
Not a big fan of contemporary blues (read 'contemporary' as 'modern'. In my opinion it is over produced - too clean, too shiny). I do enjoy this, however. Invokes all the greats - Robert, T-Bone, BB, Muddy . . . sliding into their respective styles.

Christmas (Comes But Once A Year)
Amos Milburn
King # 5405 - 1960

Blue Christmas
Sheryl Crow
A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 3 -
"Blue Christmas" started off as a country song back in 1948. But since Elvis's familiar version in 1957, it has been the provenance of rock and blues ever since. It's always been a fine line between the three genres as it is. Ms. Crow serves up a delicious version here.

Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis

Tom Waits
Blue Valentine - 1978
Ok. You're right. This song, other than it's title, has nothing to do with Christmas. But it was either this or 2 shitty songs from Lynyrd Skynyrd. No need to send a thank you card.

Silent Night
Charlie Musselwhite
The Alligator Records Christmas Collection - 1992
I am a sucker for a well played blues harp. It does not get any better than this. On second thought, you can go ahead and send that thank you card.

This is one of 10 Christmas discs I made this year. Don't hesitate to ask if you'd like any of the others.

That's all for now . . . we'll be back with more in the new year.

Support the troops - pray for peace . . .

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fell In Love With A Girl

Fell In Love With A Girl

Download Track Listing/Jewel Case insert

The blues, for the most part, have been a male dominated genre. Wasn't always the case, however. The early years of blues music were equally populated by female singers such as Bessie Smith & Ma Rainey. It's a shame that it has become a male dominated field, however, because I feel women invest themselves in to the 'song' more then men do. Men invest themselves in to the instrumentation more (they always said the guitar is nothing but an extension of the phallus!).

The previous two discs have been, for the most part, examples of "delta" blues, in particular Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. This disc, however, showcases other shades of the genre including Gospel, Jazz & in particular, Soul (in fact, I only found one example of what I would call "Delta" blues).

I have tried to give examples from the 1920's right on through 2005. (The other option was to make it all Etta James, but that would have been too easy). Interestingly enough, there is quite a gap from 1972 to 1989. Not that there wasn't any females blues during that time, but overall, it was a dark period in poplar music (trust me, I lived through it), yet alone the blues. Including such a wide time frame on this disc is not fair to the more contemporary selections . . . they truly don't stand a chance when measured against the earlier stuff.

The Reverend Is My Man
Christina Gray


Female Blues Singers - Complete Recorded Works
I can not provide any details on Christina Gray other than she was from New Orleans. I just found it to be a sassy example of the early blues.

My Daddy Rocks Me
Trixie Smith

Complete Recorded Works Vol. 2 (1925-39)
It ain't really her 'Daddy', and he isn't really 'rocking' her.

Gloomy Sunday
Billie Holiday
The Quintessential Billie Holiday, Vol. 9 (1940-1942)

If this isn't the blues, I don't know what is. This song was not without controversy, supposedly responsibl
e for over 200 suicides (I guess you can add Judas Priest to the list of rock act's copying the blues). Despite the controversy, this was a big hit for Billy Holiday, one of many in a legendary and influential career, a fine example of her sultry vocal styling.

Rock Me
Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1942-1944)
Not only was Sister Rosetta Tharpe a very popular gospel singer in the 40's and 50's, she also played the
guitar, including the intro to this song.

Money Blues
Camille Howard


Originally starting off as a pianist for Roy Milton in the 40's, well known for her boogie playing style, she later moved to the microphone. This was released on specialty Records, a legendary label that released the likes of the aforementioned Roy Milton, Percy Mayfeild, Lloyd Price, Clifton Chenier, Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers and, of course, Little Richard.

Walking Blues
Big Mama Thornton
Hound Dog - The Peacock Recordings
Big Mama Thorton's claim to fame is of course her original recording of "Hound Dog", a song later made popular by Elvis in 1956. Big Mama's version was a large hit as well, spending 7 weeks at the top of the R&B charts in 1958. This selection was released before "Hound Dog", in 1952. Nice driving beat accompanied by her growling vocals.

Tomorrow Night

LaVern Baker

Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974
The first of many Atlantic artists on this disc, Lavern Baker had a powerful, booming vocal style, as showcased on this track. This too was covered by Elvis, acoustically during his Sun Records years, though not with the
success of "Hound Dog".

One Monkey Don't Stop No Show
Big Maybelle

The Okeh Sessions
Was she called Big Maybelle because of her large vocal style? Probably not . . . she was also built like a tank.

99 And A Half Won't Do
Dorothy Love Coates

The Best of Dorothy Love Coates & the Original Gospel Harmonettes
I have never seen American Idol. Hard to avoid the commercials, however. I see those contestants trying so hard to inject emotion - waving their arms in the air, bending at the knees -
into whatever song they are trying to sing. Listen to this this Dorothy Love Coates track. Do you think she's trying to inject emotion into the song? No, that's the real thing. No cameras, no judges, no audience besides those present in the studio.

If the music you listen to doesn't, from time to time, give you goose bumps, then you need t
o find new music.

I Don't Know

Ruth Brown
The Essentials
The "House that Ruth Built" doesn't always refer to Yankee Stadium. If you are not familiar with the story of Atlantic records
, I would suggest you make yourself familiar with it. The founder, Ahmet Ertegun, recently passed away after falling backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. The term genius is often tossed around without much regard to it's definition, but make no mistake that Ahmet (or, as Otis Redding called him - "Omelet" - not out of disrespect . . . that's what he thought his name was!) was a true genius. Back to the point - Ruth Brown was one of the early stars of Atlantic Records with such hits as "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and "5-10-15 Hours" and really helped the label stay afloat in their early years with here success. I really enjoy this selection, which came later in here tenure at Atlantic.

I'm A Little Mixed Up
Betty James

The Blues - Volume 4
Seemingly a 'one hit' wonder, recorded for Chicago's legendary Chess

I Just Wanna Make Love to You

Etta James

at last!
Etta James started with the aforementioned Atlantic Records, recording many seminal tracks with them. This was part of her first album with Chess records, a cover version of Muddy Waters song of the same name (Muddy being a Chess artist as well). Coming from a female's perspective changes the whole tone of the song.

Time Is On My Side
Irma Thomas
Sweet Soul Queen of New Orleans: The Irma Thomas Collection
A fine soul singer with many great songs, she will always be remembered for being the original artist of one of the Rolling Stones first hits which is presented here. Your generation does not seem to give the Stones their
proper due (or maybe it's just Dick), but they were a fantastic conduit to the blues. Much of their early stuff was blues covers, including the aforementioned "I Just Wanna Make Love to You", "I'm a King Bee", "Little Red Rooster", etc. They did as good of a job covering this song as could be expected, even down to the "Go right ahead baby and light up the town" scat.

When My Love Comes Down
Ruby Johnson
The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968
You remember "Chef" from South Park, right? He co-wrote this song. Now close your eyes and picture him singing this to Cartman's mom . . . smiling aren't ya? I was recently asked who my favorite guitarist was and I surprised my petitioner with the response of "Steve Cropper" who is featured here. Not known for guitar acrobatics such as Jimi, Stevie Ray or his favorite, Jeff Beck, he was known for finding the perfect fills (note "dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding). And now that we have addressed the songwriter and guitarist, lest we forget the star of the show - Ruby Johnson. My aforementioned comments regarding female singers investing themselves into a song are perfectly realized with this selection. Did I mentioned this was released through Atlantic Records?

Baby, Baby, Baby
Aretha Franklin

I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You

Aretha is very overrated. Please don't misunderstand me - I think she is utterly fantastic. I think she's
overrated because of the deity status she has seemed to acquire. Lest we forget that she had a five year stretch, starting with when she signed on with Atlantic Records (there they are again), where she could do no wrong. She was unable to sustain that momentum (to be fair, not many can). For more information on this song and Aretha please check out this post at "The B-Side", which is where I got the track from.

Have A Little Mercy
Jean Wells

Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures: Taken From Our Vaults Volume 1
I just came across this song. Can't find out a thing about her. Loved it the first time I heard it, however.

Until Then I'll Suffer
Barbara Lynn
Atlantic Sisters of Soul
Another guitar playing female singer. And look at the label . . . Atlantic!

Cry Baby
Janis Joplin

This is a cover of a soul song originally done by Garnett Mimms. Janis, however, made it her own.

Love Letter
Bonnie Raitt
Nick of Time
Just a delicious mix of funk & blues from Ms. Raitt. Two interesting things about her - first, shes has played with many a great blues man in her day, including Muddy & John Lee. Secondly, she is married to
Michael O'Keefe - you know him as Noonan from Caddyshack!

Strenuous Acquaintances
Joan Osborne

Mr. Wrong
Joan Osborne showed so much promise when she came out. Her first album - Relish - was fantastic, and her 2nd, Righteous Love, was just as good as well. Then she came out with an album of covers and then really hit
bottom on her last album . . . country (and it was not even good country, it was the shitty kind of country). This was released on the soundtrack of a an Ellen Degeneres movie between the first and second album. I find the song to be addicting . . .

Won't Go Out

Holly Golightly
Alright, This Time Just the Girls Volume 2
This is the aforementioned sample of "delta" blues. One of her fans is Jack White - he invited her to do a d
uet with him - "It's True That We Love One Another" on the Stripes Elephant Album.

Come Ons
Hip Check!
If you are not familiar with The Come On's you should check them out. They are a local band (Ferndale, I believe). The singer, Deanne Iovan, used to be in the Gore Gore Girls and the drummer also pounds the skins for the Dirtbombs. Not usually this bluesy - more uptempo, R&B flavor.

Fell in Love with a Boy
Joss Stone
The Soul Sessions
I enjoyed her first album, which is where this track is from. Her second album was not as good - she started to sound like Mariah Carey (and that's not a compliment). Not sure what to expect on the third album. Anyone who covers the White Stripes can't be all that bad though, can they?

Bettye Lavette
I've Got My Own Hell to Raise
Bettye Lavette has been a journeyman singer since the early 60. This track, however, is from a 2005 release. It is a cover of a Lucinda Williams song. She adopted the lyrics to her own experiences, however - she did start off in Detroit, went to Atlantic Records (New York) and even Muscle Shoals.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Stop Breaking Down

Stop Breaking Down
Download Track Listing/Jewel Case insert

This month's disc will cover Robert Johnson and his subsequent impact on the blues and more importantly rock and roll.

Robert made 63 recordings during his lifetime. 41 of them have been found and released. These 41 recordings are of 29 different songs. Only 11 of these were released as 78's during his lifetime, with another being released posthumously. Only one of them would have been considered a hit record by the standards of that time (a minor one, at that).

So why is held in such reverence today? Damn fine question. Timing is everything.

In 1961 the "King of the Delta Blues Singers" album was released. Around the same time time you have Son House spreading tales of Robert extraordinary talents and how he acquired them from selling his soul to the devil. Couple this with an exploding folk blues movement and the start of the British invasion - Bingo, Bango - a legend is born. The argument has been made that if his songs were not prevalently covered by white rock musicians, he would have been just a footnote in the history of the blues

Which isn't to say Robert didn't have some mad skills. Keith Richards, when he first heard him at Brian Jones' apartment, wanted to know who the other guitar player was - he couldn't believe that there was only one guitar player making the music he was hearing. And the songs he wrote have become classics . . . except he didn't necessarily write them, or at least all of them. In true blues fashion, it would seem that he may have nicked more that a few of them from his contemporaries.

One fan of his mad skills during his lifetime was John Hammond. Hammond was recruiting talent for a concert at Carnegie Hall - Spirituals to Swing - and sent for Robert to be there. Robert was unable to make the trip, however, because he was dead - poisoned by a jealous husband of a women Robert was putting the squeeze on. Hammond recovered from this disappointment, however, to go onto launch the careers of, among others, Billy Holiday, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

The collection I present to you on this disc is specifically intended to show the different arrangements his music has been bent and formed into, from solo acoustic (Clapton's "From Four Till Late"), gospel (Taj Mahal's "Sweet Home Chicago"), hard rock (Cream's "Crossroads"), piano blues (Peter Green's "Phonograph Blues") to full fleshed out rhythm & blues (Ike Turner's "Dust My Broom")

32-20 Blues
Robert Johnson
November 26th, 1936
The Complete Recordings
Let's see . . . we've got a brother talking about laying a beat down on his cheating bitch . . . Robert was the first rap star! "Robert Johnson" is not a very good rap name, however. Let's see if we can't find another one for him . . . R.Johnson (nah - too much like R.Kelly) . . . how about Puff Bobby (nah, that's been done too) . . . I got it - RoJoSo! That's fizzle my gizzle.

32-20 Blues
Gov't Mule
Live...With a Little Help from Our Friends
These guys sound a lot like the Allman Brothers . . . which is no surprise since that's where they came from from.

Cross Road Blues (Alternate Take)
Robert Johnson
November 27th, 1936
The Complete Recordings
We'll discuss the whole "selling soul to the devil" thing here. Legend had it that you could go to the crossroads, hand the devil your guitar and he would in turn tune it in exchange for your soul. Follow the lyrics, however, and it's obvious that he was hitchhiking.

Probably the most famous cover of one of Robert Johnson's songs. It's not a complete cover of the song, however. The "Going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side.
You can still barrelhouse, baby, on the riverside" lyric is from another Robert Johnson song "Traveling Riverside Blues", which will be covered on a future disc.

I Believe I'll Dust My Broom
Robert Johnson
November 23rd, 1936
The Complete Recordings
This is one of the songs he nicked. Supposedly it is derived from Kokomo Arnold's "Sagefield Woman Blues". By all accounts, the bottle neck riff used was all his and has subsequently been used many times over.

Dust My Broom
Ike & Tina Turner
Shake a Tail Feather
If Ike Turner hadn't been such an asshole, he would be regarded as a genius. He really produced some fantastic music over the years. Of course, now Tina gets all the credit these days.

From Four Till Late
Robert Johnson
June 19th, 1937
The Complete Recordings
One of my favorites songs from Robert Johnson. To me it sounds different than the rest of his stuff. Always partial to the "A woman is like a dresser, some man always
ramblin' through its drawers" lyric as well.

From Four Until Late
Eric Clapton
Sessions for Robert J.
2nd of 3 appearances of Eric on this disc (Cream & John Mayall). Could have made a whole disc of just Clapton covering Robert Johnson - he made 2 discs of it himself.

Last Fair Deal Gone Down
Robert Johnson
November 27th, 1936
The Complete Recordings
"If you cry about a nickel, you'll die about a dime"

Last Fair Deal Gone Down
Keb' Mo'
Just Like You
Keb' Mo' is nice. A little too white. But nice none the same.

Love In Vain Blues
Robert Johnson
June 20th, 1937
The Complete Recordings
Though it may not be his bluesiest sounding song, it is definitely his saddest. For the longest time, however, when he sang "When the train rolled up to the station and I looked here in the eye" I always took that as he looked into the train's eye - i.e. it's light. Makes more sense that he looked into Willie Mae's eye . . .

Love in Vain
Rolling Stones
This song was not on "King of the Delta Blues" album. It did appear on a bootleg in the late sixties before being released on the "King of the Delta Blues Singers, Vol. 2" in 1970. It was from these bootlegs, however, that the Stones first heard it and went about recording it. I assume you already have the version of this song from "Let It Bleed" - I mean everybody has "Let it Bleed", no? Well, if you are not familiar with the "Let It Bleed" version seek it out - some delicious slide playing by Keith and mandolin by Ry Cooder. I like this version as well - ends with Mick playing harmonica (I am assuming it's Mick - I doubt Keith could blow that hard)

Phonograph Blues
Robert Johnson
November 23rd, 1936
The Complete Recordings
This song, like many other blues songs, is full of double entendres. "Now, we played it on the sofa, now, we played it 'side the wall" - I don't think a phonograph would actually play "side the wall". "My needles have got rusty" - this was before penicillin.

Phonograph Blues
Peter Green Splinter Group
The Robert Johnson Songbook
Peter Green was a founding member of Fleetwood Mac, which was originally formed as a blues band. Peter left, Lindsay Buckingham came in with Stevie Nicks. Needless to say, they were never the same. Nice piano workout of the song, however.

Ramblin' On My Mind (Alternate Take)
Robert Johnson
November 23rd, 1936
The Complete Recordings
I find it amazing that they have the exact date (and time too) for these recordings. I just downloaded a version of "Day Tripper" done live by Eddie Vedder & Liam Gallagher and I can't find out when it was recorded but they had all these records available from back then.

Ramblin' On My Mind
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
This is the first song Clapton ever recording singing lead. The Yardbird's didn't let him sing . . maybe that's why he left.

Stop Breakin' Down Blues
Robert Johnson
June 20th, 1937
The Complete Recordings
This version is closest to the version later recorded by the Rolling Stones (and subsequently the White Stripes). On the second version he includes a lyric about a fiddle player and his bow. Most of the alternate versions of his songs really don't vary that much from the original - usually just slight variations of the lyrics. This is the only one I found where there is actually a different verse.

Stop Breaking Down
White Stripes
The White Stripes
Jack White is an interesting dichotomy - on one hand, he could be the second coming of Christ. On they other hand, he could be Satan. That's what makes him great - along with Meg's drumming (I know Bert's opinion of Meg - Bert's fucked up). There is another version of them playing this during a Peel session - slower and bluesier - that would have been on the disc if it wasn't three minutes longer than this version. If you look real hard I bet you'll be able to download it. In fact, you shouldn't have to look that hard at all.

Sweet Home Chicago
Robert Johnson
November 23rd, 1936
The Complete Recordings
A very popular song of his . . . covered numerous times. But I doubt it is actually his song - I would suspect it is more a traditional song he adopted for himself.

Sweet Home Chicago
Taj Mahal
In Progress & In Motion 1965-1998
I dig the way he 'gospels' this up. By they way, thats the Pointer Sisters backing him up

Terraplane Blues
Robert Johnson
November 23rd, 1936
The Complete Recordings
This was the first record released during his lifetime. It was also his best selling one as well. I guess the Counting Crows shouldn't fell so bad.

Terraplane Blues
John Lee Hooker
The Very Best of John Lee Hooker
A Terraplane was a low priced sedan offered by the Hudson Motor Car company from 1933 to 1938. But Robert (nor John Lee) weren't really signing about a car now, were they.

Walking Blues
Robert Johnson
November 27th, 1936
The Complete Recordings
"She got a Elgin movement from her head down to her toes; Lord, she break in on a dollar most anywhere shes goes"
Not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds dirty.

Walkin' Blues
Muddy Waters
The Chess Box
Muddy calling out his bass player on this song - Ernest "Big" Crawford - lead me to name our first dog "Crawford"

I know, that given the poor sound quality, the Robert Johnson songs may be tough to listen to. Give them a listen, however. Follow the lyrics (I have included links to the lyrics of each song). See if you can hear the two guitars Keef heard.

One last note - there is an argument, an interesting one at that, that Robert's songs were actually speed up 20% from their actual recorded speeds. Listen to the samples posted on this website - see what you think.

'til next month.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Big Three Killed My Baby

The Big Three Killed My Baby
Download Track Listing/Jewel Case insert

The first disc of the Blues Of The Month will cover what I consider to be the big three of the blues.
Sort of the Father, Son & Holy Ghost of the Blues.
Or GM, Ford & Chrysler - 'scuse me - Daimler Chrysler.

Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf & John Lee Hooker.
It would be impossible not to include some of the obvious selections ('Mannish Boy', 'Boom Boom', 'Smokestack Lightning') I have tried to mix it up a bit here, including some not so obvious choices from all periods of their lives. Don't worry, though - there will be more of them on future discs I'm sure.

Boogie Chillun
John Lee Hooker
The Hook
I dont know what a Chillun is. I do know it was recorded in 1948 at the United Sound Studios at 5840 Second Avenue in Detroit. He refers to 'Hastings Street' in the song. Hastings Street was THE place to be for blacks in the 40's & 50's in Detroit. You can't go there today, however. Why not? Well, when 'whitey' decided to build I-75 guess where they put it? That's right, right over Hastings Street!

Sad Letter
Muddy Waters
More Real Folk Blues
Muddy's take on Son House's / Leadbelly "Death Letter".

Moanin' At Midnight
Howlin' Wolf
The Sun Records Collection
Of all the artists to come out of Sun Studios in Memphis - Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc. - none were more powerful than Howlin' Wolf. More sucessful - sure. More influential, maybe. More powerful - not a chance.

Muddy Waters
The Chess Box
Nice slow shuffling example of Muddy's power.

Standing Around Crying
Muddy Waters
The Best of Muddy Waters
For me, this is the finest example of heavy metal. Honestly, you can take all the hair bands in history - Zeppelin, GnR, Mettallica, whoever - put them back in 1952 with the 'primitive' recording equipment and instruments - give them a standup bass, harmonica, electric guitar and what was probably at best a snare drum and cymbal (I could be wrong but I believe the band consisted of Willie Dixon on bass, Little Walter on harmonica, Muddy on guitar and vocals and Fred Below on drums) and see if the could get their shit together enough to create a sound this full and, yes, heavy. Trust me, they couldn't.

She's Alright
Muddy Waters
More Real Folk Blues

Mannish Boy
Muddy Waters
The Chess Box
Muddy knicked this from Bo Diddley. I'd like to think Bo didn't mind but I suspect he did. Muddy's take kicks Bo's version's ass, and Bo's version was awesome.

Natchez Burning
Howlin' Wolf
The Real Folk Blues
"Did you ever hear the burning that happened way day in Natchez, Mississippi town ?"

Smokestack Lightnin'
Howlin' Wolf
The Chess Box
Smokestack Lightnin' refers to a locomotive engine and the sparks the steam boiler would give off

Crawlin' Kingsnake
John Lee Hooker

The Hook
Was John Lee a snake lover? No. John Lee was referring to 'himself' as a snake. The blues are famous for there double entendre. The could sing the most erotic lyrics without ever using objectionable language. Much more imagination than today's rappers display.

Howlin' For My Darling
Howlin' Wolf
The Chess Box

Down In The Bottom
Howlin' Wolf

The Chess Box

Boom Boom
John Lee Hooker
The Hook
You can see him playing this song on the street in "The Blues Brothers"

The Waterfront
John Lee Hooker
The Real Folk Blues
My favorite selection from John Lee.

I'm In The Mood
John Lee Hooker
The Real Folk Blues
Who isn't?

I'm The Wolf
Howlin' Wolf

The Chess Box
Wolf Unplugged!

Grinder Man
John Lee Hooker
The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1968-1971
John Lee again with a double entendre.

She's Nineteen Years Old
Muddy Waters
Live (At Mr. Kelly's)
"I so crazy about those young girls". Muddy was 56 when he recorded this version (Mr. Kelly's is (was?) a bar/nightclub in Chicago). That's right, 56 year old black men are after your girlfriends.

The Red Rooster (False Start and Dialogue)
Howlin' Wolf
The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions
That's Eric Clapton asking Wolf to show HIM how to play the guitar! One might think he was being disingenuous, but I like to think he wasn't. "Always stop at the top . . . "

Champagne & Reefer
Muddy Waters
King Bee
Muddy Waters singing about getting high in 1981. Think Johnny Winters, who produced this album, had any influence on him? And here's a shocker - the song was later covered by the Black Crowes!

John Lee Hooker
Don't Look Back
Never crazy about artists remaking their songs. But I did enjoy this remake by John Lee (with Los Lobos) of one of his classic early cuts.

Well, that's the first chapter. Hope you enjoy. Don't worry, I don't think I will always be so wordy. Please feel free to share with your fellow music students there at Albion. If they are not familiar with some of the music hopefully I can get an assist for inspiration.

BTW - Did you find the downloaded hidden track ?

The Hardest Button To Button

The Hardest Button To Button

Back in August (I think it was August) Rich said you asked if I would make you up a blues disc. Well, I was honored that you would ask and I immediately started on putting it together.

That's where the problems began. Where to start? And the more I reviewed the more I was learning my self. Then I asked Rich if you would mind if it was more than one disc, perhaps two or three. I had an epic study and comprehensively sweeping set in mind. So I started to work on it some more but the problem was that my library was not static but was ever expanding (thanks to blogs such as
Honey Where You Been So Long )

Next thing I knew August was gone, January was here and you were kind enough to leave $20 at my poker table. And still no blues disc as requested.

That's when I decided to the advice of
one of Bill Murray's best movies and attack the problem in "Baby Steps".

So begins the Blues of the Month blog. Each month in 2007 you receive a single disc of the blues. That'll give you a month to review. If you decide to keep the disc, there is no cost. You can cancel you subscription at any time, but the discs will keep coming regardless. I am having too much fun doing this.