Sunday, October 03, 2010

Junior Wells and the Aces - Live in Boston 1966 (Delmark, 2010)

Harmonica ace and singer Junior Wells had recently recorded his classic blues LP Hoodoo Man Blues when this live set was recorded (possibly originally a bootleg or radio broadcast) featuring him with the crack band known as The Aces: Louis Myers on guitar, Dave Myers bass, and Fred Below on drums. These musicians were very familiar with each other and it shows throughout the performance, as they are tight as can be. Highlights of the album include "Man Downstairs" where they mash-up blues classics "One Way Out" and "Big Boss Man" to excellent effect. "Junior's Whoop" showcases Wells' excellent harmonica playing swooping and swaying along the beat and playing with the timing of a saxophonist. Blues chestnuts "That's Alright Mama" and "Look On Yonder's Wall" are potent performances, leading up to Wells' signature piece "Messin' With the Kid" which is taken with enough swagger and verve to rival Muddy Waters. Speaking of Waters, the group covers "Hoochie Coochie Man" with the group setting the flavor while Junior lays back and then sidles up for a powerful performance. The full band gets a chance to blow on Freddie King's "Hideaway" featuring excellent guitar playing and a rock solid pocket of bass and drums. This is a nice snapshot of Junior Wells at what was arguably his peak, and with the inclusion of his between song banter, it has the feel of the nightclub atmosphere. The recording quality is a little rough, but still very listenable, and fans of the Chicago style of electric blues will surely enjoy this album. Live In Boston 1966 -

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