Monday, October 09, 2006

Various Artists - Chicago Blues at Home (Advent, 1977)

This album uses the very interesting concept of taking blues musicians out of the competitive Chicago club scene and recording them in their homes in a relaxed informal environment. The result is some very interesting often laid back music as the bluesmen work their way through both original songs and standards or variations of standards. Louis Meyers gets three cuts on this LP keeping them all in a low key acoustic style, he sings "Going Back to the Ghetto" where the object of his desire is a beef sandwich, before singing the traditional "Stop Breaking Down" which is associated with Robert Johnson. Finally, he compares his lady to a stinging arachnid in "Mean Black Spider." Jimmy Rogers was a Muddy Waters sideman and a very successful artist in his own right and on this album he contributes two very slow tempoed songs. "Ludella" goes back to his Mississippi roots and includes a nice guitar interlude, while "Back Door Friend" sticks to a crawling groove.

Eddie Taylor was best known for his performances with Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker, but here he steps out front to play some solid guitar and sing in a clear voice on "Greyhound Blues" and "Jackson Town." Finally, some remarkable performances on this album come from slide guitar players. Johnny Shines contributes some raw, percussive slide guitar and moaning vocals on "Ramblin'" which is derived from the classic "Walkin' Blues." Homesick James plays slide and sings with passion like is famous cousin Elmore James over hand percussion on "Tell Me Who" and the sadly underrecorded John Littlejohn riffs on "It Hurts Me Too" with an eerie sounding jam called simply "Slidin'." This is a good record and gives a chance for some of the lesser known musicians on the Chicago scene to be heard in a different environment. I found this LP in a used bin, but it looks like it was re-released as a compact disc and is well worth keeping an eye out for.

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