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Researching the Blues

Box sets and Best Ofs lead to a tuned ear

I've had Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (Amazon | Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings) and Muddy Waters: The Chess Box (Amazon | Muddy Waters - Muddy Waters: The Chess Box) for many years. Late last year, I picked up Howlin Wolf: The Chess Box (Amazon | Howlin' Wolf - The Chess Box: Howlin' Wolf and truly discovered the incredible music by this blues master. In fact, I found this compilation better than Muddy's, probably because Wolf had nearly the same band throughout, giving him a consistent sound over the years. I've also found that I've developed an ear for Wolf, being able to tell it's him as the tune starts. This is something I was really good at as a kid, and it's cool that I can still do it.

Thanks to Jimmie Vaughan and Omar Kent Dykes, I've discovered the music of Jimmy Reed (Amazon | Jimmie Vaughan & Omar Kent Dykes - On the Jimmy Reed Highway). This led me to buying The Very Best of Jimmy Reed (Jimmy Reed - The Very Best of Jimmy Reed). Again, I've discovered the brilliance of this artist, and also developed an ear for picking him out when I hear one of his tunes. I've also done this with Memphis Slim: The Folkways Years: 1959-1973 (Amazon | Memphis Slim - The Folkways Years, 1959-1973).

Next on my list is Little Walter. I stumbled on to this one for a strange reason. A fellow keyboard player posted this YouTube video of his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2008 to show how the band behind James Cotton wasn't listening to nor following Cotton, who is a brilliant harp player in his own right. But, from this, I heard Little Walter's original Juke, and I'm blown away by how he played. Of course, he's also all over The Chess Box :Muddy Waters but I feel like I need some of his solo stuff, which has those great instrumentals.

Posted 2008 04 24 at 5:02 AM

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