Saturday, October 04, 2008

Magic Sam - West Side Soul (Delmark, 1967)

Guitarist and singer "Magic Sam" Maghett was one of the leading lights of the third generation of Chicago blues musicians. Where the Bluebird artists like the original Sonny Boy Williamson brought the blues to Chicago in the 1930's and Muddy Waters and the Chess gang expanded and amplified them in the 1950's, Magic Sam and fellow travelers like Junior Wells and Buddy Guy added a healthy dollop of soul music to their electric blues with explosive results. Sam only made one full album (along with a number of singles) during his short lifetime, but it was a monster, every note is played and sung with no holding back, as if he knew the end was near. "I Don't Want No Woman" is a massive highlight with an outstanding vocal that is filled with energy and defiance, and a wonderfully choppy guitar solo. "Sweet Home Chicago" is a joyful exploration of the standard, full of swagger and swing, as does the ebullient version of "Talk to Your Daughter" which jumps hard. The harrowing slow blues "Our Love Will Never Die" wrings every drop of emotion from an extraordinary vocal. Magic Sam was like a brilliant comet that only flashed across the musical sky for a very brief time, but he left recordings to be cherished. This was his crowning achievement and it was a polestar for the music that followed.

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