Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Various Artists - American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969, Vol. 2 (Hip – O, 2004)

This CD is an accompaniment to the amazing series of DVD's that have been being released by Hip-O, chronicling appearances on European TV by legendary American bluesmen and women. Performances on this disc and the preceding Vol. 1 are live recordings from the Folk Blues Festival tour, a more natural setting for the musicians, rather than the sometimes contrived settings the otherwise well meaning TV producers arranged. Superb performances abound, leading off with Big Mama Thornton reclaiming “Hound Dog” from a certain Elvis fellow, followed by a couple of fine performances by the wily Sonny Boy Williamson, “Keep It To Yourself” and “Your Funeral and My Trial.” Great stuff indeed, but the music really goes into overdrive at the end of the CD, with Son House letting loose with a frighteningly potent version of his classic “Death Letter Blues,” followed by Koko Taylor with Little Walter in support belting out a tough as nails version of “Wang Dang Doodle.” Muddy Waters rocks “Long Distance Call” with some absolutely unique slide guitar, and Earl Hooker goes over the top on a medley of instrumental compositions. Finally Magic Sam delivers a superbly emotional “All Your Love” before the disc ends with a finale that brought everyone back to the stage. This is a pretty amazing disc, and it's hard not to be jealous of the European blues fans who got to hear this fantastic assemblage all in one place.

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