Thursday, June 29, 2006

Great Blues Recordings: Slim Harpo, The Best of Slim Harpo

Great Blues Recordings: Slim Harpo, The Best of Slim Harpo

I have been thinking about starting a new series where I list my favorite blues recordings. I thought it might be helpful to those blues music lovers who are not familiar with much of the prewar blues music.

My idea is that there is so much good prewar blues music out that it is difficult for someone who is new to the blues. I want help my readers know what the good stuff is.

Slim Harpo, The Best of Slim Harpo (Hip-O 40072)

Slim Harpo is another one of those musicians from my home state of Louisiana, and I think that has a great effect on his style of music. His real name was James Moore and he was from Lobdell, Louisiana. He was on of the most sucessful bluesmen of the late 1950s and early '60s. His music as dipicted on this CD is swamp blues, which is a laid back, heavy on the back beat, and totally dancable blues music.

Gathering 18 tracks from 1957 to 1965, The Best of Slim Harpo is a selection of Harpo's best known hits and some of his not as well known but memorable sides. The combination of good sound quality and a good selection of songs makes this a highely listenable and danceable CD. It is hard for me to listen to this swamp blues sound and not want to dance.

You can read about Slim Harpo @ Wikipedia.

The 18 tracks on this CD include;

1. Baby Scratch My Back
2. I Got Love If You Want It
3. "I'm a King Bee" <<< Click to hear a sample of this song.
4. My Little Queen Bee (Got a Brand New King)
5. Shake Your Hips
6. Te-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu
7. Buzz Me Babe
8. Buzzin'
9. Rainin' in My Heart
10. Still Rainin' in My Heart
11. Late Last Night
12. Tip on in, Pt. 1
13. Bobby Sox Baby
14. Don't Start Crying Now
15. I Need Money (Keep Your Alibis)
16. Strange Love
17. Rock Me Baby
18. Blues Hangover

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

B.B. King & Jeff Beck - Paying the Cost to be the Boss

Speaking of B.B. King, here is a video of Jeff Beck and B.B. doing Mr. King's classic blues song, "Paying the Cost to be the Boss."

My daughter tells me that I walk around singing this song too often. But hey, what can I say? I mean every now and then you have to explain to people how it is you got to be the boss. Right? Enjoy the video.

Jeff Beck with B.B. King - Paying The Cost to be the Boss

Kind of curious how this video was titled, "Jeff Beck with B.B. King" it should be "B.B. King with Jeff Beck" seeing that they are playing a song that Mr. King made popular, and B.B. does all the singing. Mr. Beck does deliver on the guitar solo, and I think his playing complements B. B.'s song very well. The end of this video is a cliff hanger. Over the years B.B. has done many duets with other noted musicians. I think this is a little more lively than the version on B. B.'s CD "Duces Wild" with the Rolling Stones.

Below are a couple of my favorite B.B. King duet CDs.

Songs and musicians on "Duces Wild."

1. If You Love Me with Van Morrison
2. The Thrill Is Gone with Tracy Chapman
3. Rock Me Baby with Eric Clapton
4. Please Send Me Someone To Love with Mick Hucknall
5. Baby I Love You with Bonnie Raitt
6. Ain't Nobody Home with D'Angelo
7. There Must Be A Better World Somewhere with Dr. John
8. Confessin' The Blues with Joe Cocker Marty Stuart
9. Paying The Cost To The Boss with the Rolling Stones
10. Dangerous Mood with Joe Cocker
11. Keep It Coming with Heavy D
12. Cryin' Won't Help You Babe with David Gilmour & Paul Carrack
13. Night Life with Willie Nelson

Some complain about this CD not being based in the blues enough, but I have to say that I like how some of the musicians that perform on this CD help B.B. to update his sound, and move the blues closer to music like R&B and even rap. I know it is a point of contention amongst some blues fans, but rap and R&B overlap with blues music too, just as rock and roll does.

Songs and musicians on "Blues Summit."

1. Playin' With My Friends duet with Robert Cray
2. Since I Met You, Baby duet with Katie Webster
3. I Pity The Fool duet with Buddy Guy
4. You Shook Me duet with John Lee Hooker
5. Something You Got duet with Koko Taylor
6. There's Something On Your Mind duet with Etta James
7. Little By Little duet with Lowell Fulson
8. Call It Stormy Monday duet with Albert Collins
9. You're The Boss duet with Ruth Brown
10. We're Gonna Make It duet with Irma Thomas
11. I Gotta Move Out Of This Neighborhood/Nobody Love - B.B. King & Orchestra
12. Everybody's Had The Blues duet with Louis Walker

This CD is a bit more rooted in the blues as can be seen from the performances of noted blues musicians such as Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Koko Taylor and Albert Collins.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

The King is Still in the News.

Here are a few recent news articles about B. B. King.

The King of the blues at 80 @

B.B. King to Perform at White House in Celebration of 'Black Music Month' @

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Son House - Forever on My Mind Video

The other day when I posted the video of the little speech by Howlin Wolf, Micheal Leddy the writer of Orange Crate Art pointed out that the person Howlin Wolf was chastising in that video was none other than Son House himself. And he brought this video to my attention. I love Son House and his guitar playing, and the intensity that he played his music.

The man was truly a master.

Son House - Forever on My Mind @ YouTube.

Other Son House videos that I have posted;

Son House Death Letter Video

Another Son House Death Letter Video

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

John Lee Hooker's Estate Has the Blues

I can vividly remember seeing John Lee Hooker at Humphrey's over on Shelter Island here in San Diego. It was a great show, and seeing the venerable bluesman perform was the realization of one of my life long dreams. I have tried to keep up with John Lee's legacy and I try to turn on as many younger music lovers to his music as I can.

I recently pointed him out to my twenty something year-old daughter, while we were watching the movie the "The Blues Brothers", in the hopes that she will learn about him and enjoy his music as much as I do.

So when I read the below news about the trouble that Mr. Hooker's estate is in I thought I needed to write about this. When I say trouble, it really is the kind of trouble that we would all like to have when you think about it. But hey everyone has got to figure out how to pay the rent, that is what the blues is all about.

"The cash-strapped estate of legendary blues musician John Lee Hooker is hoping to educate people about his prolific 50-year career and get themselves back in the black at the same time."

John Lee Hooker's Estate Licenses Albums To Shout Factory @

"John Lee Hooker could not read or write, according to his daughter, but the legendary Delta bluesman's estate is hoping to educate a new legion of fans about his 50-year musical legacy."

I Need Some Money: John Lee Hooker estate, pursued by IRS, licenses catalogue @

Other JLH news; John Lee Hooker Jr.'s blues are is his own @

John Lee Hooker "Hobo Blues" video @ SqueezeMyLemon.

If you don't have any John Lee Hooker music in your collection check these out at;

The Very Best Of John Lee Hooker

Hooker 'n Heat [BOX SET]


DVD's of John Lee Hooker;

John Lee Hooker - Come and See About Me: The Definitive DVD (2004)

John Lee Hooker - That's My Story (2001)

Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues - Godfathers and Sons (2003)

If you didn't know, now you know. Well that should get you moving down the road of hearing some of the best blues by a great blues musician.

Thanks to Bluesmama Renee at Bluesmama's House of Blues for turning me on to this story.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How To Sing The Blues: An Old Joke

I have seen this floating around on the internet for some time now, and have even recieved it in my emial inbox a couple of times. It is an old joke and a good one too. I hope it makes you laugh.

How To Sing the Blues

1. Most Blues begin "woke up this morning."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in right away: I got a good woman-with the meanest face in town.

3. Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes. Sort of.

I got a good woman-with the meanest face in town.
I got a good woman-with the meanest face in town.
She got teeth like Condoleeza Rice and she weighs 500 pounds.

4. The Blues are not about limitless choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch; ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars are Chevies, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Other acceptable Blues transportation modes include Greyhound buses and southbound trains. Walkin' plays a major part in the Blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or SUVs. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running.

6. Adults sing the Blues. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. In the Blues, "adulthood" means old enough to get the electric chair when you shoot that man in Memphis.

7. You can have the Blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens. Hard times in Vermont, Tucson, or North Dakota are just depression. The best places to have the Blues are still Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and New Orleans. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg while skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg when your broken-down pickup truck rolled over on it is.

9. The following colors do not belong in the Blues: violet, beige, mauve (unless you're truly desperate for a rhyme).

9. You can't have the Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is just plain wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places to have the Blues: the highway, a jailhouse, an empty bed, the bottom of a whiskey glass. Bad places to have the Blues: ashrams, gallery openings, weekends in the Hamptons, golf courses, Tiffany's, and Ivy
League institutions.

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an old black man-and it's an old black suit.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues?

Answer "Yes" if:

a. your first name is a southern state-like Georgia
b. you're blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis.
d. you can't be satisfied.
e. you're older than dirt

Answer "No" if:

a. you once were blind but now can see.
b. you're deaf
c. the man in Memphis lived.
d. you have a trust fund or an IRA.
e. you have all your teeth
f. you were once blind but now can see

13. Blues is not about color, it's about bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues; Gary Coleman could. Ugly old white people got a leg up on the blues. Julio Iglesias and Barbra Streisand will never sing the Blues.

14. If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are: wine, whiskey, muddy water, beer, black coffee.

Blues beverages are NOT: mixed drinks, kosher wine, sparkling water, Snapple, Starbucks Frappuccino, or Slim Fast. Although Rubber Biscuits and the Wish Sandwich are famous blues snacks, better stick to common blues grub
like Greasy Bar-b-que, Fatback and beans, and Government cheeze.

Blues food is never: Club sandwich, Sushi, or Crème brule.

15. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a Blues death. So is substance abuse, the electric chair, or being denied treatment in an emergency room. It is not a Blues death to die during liposuction or from tennis elbow.

16. Excellent names for female Blues singers: Sadie, Big Momma, Bessie, or Fat River Dumpling. Excellent names for male Blues singers: Willie, Joe, Little Willie, Lightning, or Big Willie.

Singers with names like Muffy, Sierra, Auburn, Alexis, Gwenyth, Sequoiz, Brittany or Rainbow are not permitted to sing the Blues, no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

17. The Build Your Own Blues Singer Name Starter Kit:

a. Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, Asthmatic)
b. First name (from above lists) or name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi)
c. Last name of a U. S. president (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)

Examples: Blind Lime Jefferson, Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Okay, maybe not "Kiwi".)

18. I don't care how tragic your life; if you own a computer, you cannot sing the Blues. You'd best destroy it. Fire, a spilled bottle of Mad Dog, or shotgun. Maybe your big ass woman just done sit on it. I don't care

19. Hey there, you can READ! This too be a big ol' problem. Most folks singin' the Blues ain't never had much a chance for education. In the Blues. the three R's stand for Railroads, Runnin' and Rehab.

20. It gots to be dark to sing the blues, preferably after midnight. Singin' da blues at noon is forbidden.

21. If none of the above works, try one last, pathetic stab at authenticity: name your guitar. Remember, Lucille is taken.

22. Epitaph on a blues musician's tombstone: "I didn't wake up this morning"

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Blues Places: Memphis

The blues is not just people, it is stating the obvious to say that this music is made by people for people, but the blues is also about places. From the old bluesmen and women of the prewar years to the young college kids of the sixties who fueled the revival, people made it happen and are what we think about when talking about the blues. But it could also be argued that the blues is as much about places as it is about people. I think because people make places and they also make music, they create places that focus the music and give it a foundation, one such places for the blues is Memphis, TN.

Author David L. Cohn, wrote in his book "Where I Was Born and Raised," "The Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis." That sounds right to me, when I look at a map it is obvious that Memphis is one of the great places of the blues. And that its influence stretches all the way down to the gulf of Mexico.

Here are a few of my favorite links that give information and history about the good city of Memphis;

The National Parks Service: Trail of the Hellhound Memphis site.

This page has some delightful photos and background information on the following Memphis blues sites.

Beale Street
Peabody Hotel
Orpheum Theater
706 Union Avenue the birthplace Sun Records.
W.C. Handy house.
W.C. Handy Park.

The National Parks Service: Memphis School History.

The above link is a detailed and interesting history of the Memphis blues scene and it goes a long way in describing how blues became the important blues center that it is.

a few other of my Memphis favorite links;
Memphis Official City Government Website
Memphis @ wikipedia.
Memphis Minnie @ wikipedia
Memphis Slim @ wikipedia
Stax Museum of American Soul Music

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Monday, June 12, 2006

What They Said: Howlin Wolf Video

There is no loss of people who will tell you what the bluesmen said. Sometimes I like to hear what they said in their own words.

Here is a delightful clip of Howlin Wolf talking about what he thinks the blues is.

He seems to be doing an intro for one of his sets, along the way he drops some wisdom about loving whiskey too much, and then goes on a rant about not leaving your shoes behind, when you find yourself in some "Devilment".

Howlin Wolf Talking about the blues @ YouTube

Seems like to me, old Howlin Wolf knew what he was talking about. This is too funny.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Lightnin' Hopkins - Mojo Hand Video

Here is another Lightnin' Hopkins Video. He is preforming his song "MoJo Hand".

Lightnin' Hopkins - Mojo Hand

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Victoria Spivey - Black Snake Blues Video

One of the things I love about going back and looking at the prewar blues musicians is discovering those who I have not heard of before. Here is an example. I was searching for a different video clip for Lonnie Johnson. I posted a video of him singing "Another Night to Cry" last month, to compliment some mp3s of his that I had posted earlier.

And I came across this little gem, Victoria Spivey - Black Snake Blues. I am not that familiar with Mrs. Spivey's music, but I'm now busy as you read this coming up to speed on her. I hope to be able to post more of her stuff soon.

Notice that in this video she is being backed by Sonny Boy Williamson and Lonnie Johnson.

The reason that I was looking for a Lonnie Johnson is because it was in this month back in 1970 that he died after being struck by a car in Toronto. And I wanted to remember him by sharing some more of his music, and I think that this video is a fitting remembrance to him.

Great selection of Victoria Spivey ram files @

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Top 10 Blues Harmonica Players

Here is my list of my top 10 favorite blues harmonica players. In loose order, the people listed below #6 can change depending on my mood, the first five guys are set in stone in my opinion. Feel free to leave me a comment with your top 10 favorites.

01. Sonny Boy Williamson II (Alek Rice Miller)
02. Lil Walter
03. Sonny Terry
04. Junior Wells
05. Sonny Boy Williamson I
06. Jimmy Reed
07. James Cotton
08. Charlie Musselwhite
09. Sugar Blue
10. Big Walter Horton

iTunes Store Music

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Jimmy Page & The Prewar Bluesmen

I love Jimmy Page, and I love Led Zeppelin too. But I have always been disappointed by how they did not properly credit the prewar bluesmen & women for the music they played. Much of this music is traditional and it is difficult to know who should get the credit for it.

But one of the more disturbing practices of Zeppelin and Page is that they actually took the writing credits for much of the music that they played, when in fact they did little to create the music, but were really doing some great covers.

I have been in many arguments with those who love Zeppelin, and who do not know about the prewar blues performers. That is another one of the reasons that I started this blog, I wanted to document the accomplishments of the prewar blues musicians.

Well anyway I recently surfed onto a very informative article that documents some of history of Page's use of other's music and ideas THE THIEVING MAGPIES: Jimmy Page's Dubious Recording Legacy

I present this here not to take anything away from Jimmy Page or Led Zeppelin, because in my mind they were one of the greatest bands that ever existed, and Jimmy Page is one of my favorite guitar players of all time, but to pass along some great documentation. The fact that they are still being listened to, talked about, written about still today is a testament to their greatness.