Tea for the Bloggerman


Top Five Albums of the Week: Week Seven “Honkin’ on the Bobo” Week
September 22, 2008, 12:04 am
Filed under: music | Tags: , , ,

Most of the albums today involve either harmonica or harmonica-related tracks. All the CDs are spread out on my Hohner harmonica case, with all my harps and humble equipment showing, including my new (and awesome) Bottle o’ Blues harp microphone. It sounds beautifully dirty.

1. Juke by Little Walter
Sets the theme of this week’s layout. I must’ve listened to this CD three times in a row Tuesday afternoon at work. Little Walter is magic. His harmonica playing is without equal, bringing the instrument to a new level of technicality. And his tone! Little Walter is the example all amplified harp players try to emulate. He was the first to cup a microphone in his hand and play through an overdriven amp, perhaps the first person in the history of music to EVER purposely use electronic distortion. It’s the tone my Bottle o’ Blues mic gets close to, but doesn’t quite reach. Also, Little Walter Jacobs wrote excellent songs. The lyrics to “My Babe” are extremely catchy. I often find myself walking through the house snapping my fingers to the beat of it.

2. Tigerman by Kim Wilson
A contemporary disciple of Little Walter. Wilson, formerly of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, is an excellent amplified harp player. One of the best around. This CD has a few clunkers on it, but overall it’s a fine blues album.

3. Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play the Blues
Buddy-fucking-Guy and Junior-fucking-Wells. The Simon and Garfunkel of Chicago blues. Hated the ever-loving shit out of each other, but somehow were able to get together on many occasions to produce some find material. The highlight of this is the Junior Wells classic “Messin’ With the Kid” which I have been playing along with recently thanks to one of Adam Gussow’s Modern Blues Harmonica song lessons. While the original “Messin’ With the Kid” single is far to fast for me to play with, the one on this album is slower and jazzier, and is completely void of Junior’s harp. Even though Junior was a great harmonica player, his playing being absent makes this version an excellent jam track.

4. The Complete Plantation Recordings of Muddy Waters
No harp on this CD that I can remember, but still top-notch blues. I am a very huge fan of old Delta blues recordings–Charley Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson, etc etc–and this takes a proud position in my collection. Alan Lomax (God bless his soul) did so much good for the world. In the 30s and 40s Lomax traveled all through the South on behalf of the Library of Congress and recorded damn near everything he came across. Delta blues, gospels, prison chain gang work songs, everything. Including a poor young farm worker who went by the nickname of “Muddy Waters.” Lomax recorded Muddy and his friends between ’41 and ’42, went back to Washington and sent Muddy back a copy of the recordings. The first time Muddy had ever heard himself sing and play. The liner notes say that Muddy listened to this record over and over again, knowing deep down that he could make it. Pack up and leave Mississippi. Go to Chicago, where the work is. Move in with some relatives. Take on down the road, just him and his guitar. He could do it, he knew he could do it. And he did. Without Muddy Waters, we would not have rock music period. The end. End of story. A giant of popular music here at the very ground floor of his spectacular career. Amazing album.

5. Bird and Diz by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie
The only non-blues album on the list, but still quite a goodie. This album, first off, is short. About 22 minutes of actual album. Then there is another 20 minutes or so of outtakes, false starts, breakdowns, studio chatter, etc. But here in all this mess is Bebop at its finest. There is nothing I can say about Charlie Parker that Jack Kerouac hasn’t said already a thousand times better, and the younger Dizzy here could easily be mistaken for Miles Davis. A very pleasant surprise here is the piano player, a then little-known musician called Thelonious Monk. With names like these, who needs description?

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Quilt is playing peek-a-boo.

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