Saturday, April 08, 2006

Chess Records

Lately Chess Records has been on my mind. I have been listening to a lot of the music of the artist of Chess. If you don't know, Chess Records was an American record label, based in Chicago, Illinois. The brothers Leonard Chess and Phil Chess were the owners and operators of the company. Chess Records is one of the most important record labels in blues history and rock and roll too. If it were not for Chess Records we would not have some of the recordings that are considered the foundations of blues and rock and roll. They released many singles and albums by Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williams II (Rice Miller), Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and many others.

While they had rock and roll, and rhythm & blues recording, the blues was their mainstay and the area where they had the biggest impact. People like Willie Dixon, Little Walter, John Lee Hooker, and Jimmy Reed among others worked with the Chess Brothers.

With Willie Dixon, an artist whose talent as a producer/songwriter/ session player during the 1950s and 1960s vastly contributed to the label's long-term success. Dixon was very instrumental and a vital figure at Chess Records. He was not only a good musician filling in as bassist and prolific songwriter. He aided in orchestration and was something of a figurehead for the label. But in my mind it is his songwriting that made him that man at Chess. Songs written by Dixon include "Back Door Man," "The Red Rooster," "Spoonful," and "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man." These are just a few of the songs that helped to make Chess Records the great label that it was.

Here are a few books that you might want to read about Chess Records;
The Record Men : Chess Records and the Birth of Rock & Roll (Paperback)

Spinning Blues into Gold : The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records (Paperback)

The Story of Chess Records (Hardcover)

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