Friday, February 17, 2012

Magic Sam - West Side Soul (Delmark 1967, 2011)

This is the classic electric blues album from Magic Sam originally released in 1967 and remastered here with an extra alternate take added along with expanded liner notes. Unfortunately, Magic Sam wasn't fated to be on the Chicago blues scene very long, passing from heart failure just a few years after this album was released. He cut a number of early singles for the Cobra and Chief labels in the late '50's and early '60's before moving to the Delmark label to record two full LPs, West Side Soul and Black Magic. Magic Sam was the full package, a superb guitar player and a wonderfully emotive vocalist and all of that comes through here in an album that runs the gamut of human emotion from love to jealousy to pure joy. The environment that this album was recorded in develops a melding of the gutbucket style of Chicago blues with a soulful rhythm and blues style building an energetic and boisterous combination. The emotional vocals resonate and make the album accessible, from the forlorn and foreboding nature of "All Your Love" and "Our Love Will Never Die," to the jubilation in the band's playing on the standard "Sweet Home Chicago" where they build a relationship with the old song that brings their own energetic and exuberant feelings to the forefront. This new edition of a well respected album adds extra liner notes that help place the music in the context of its place and time. The music remains fresh and deeply powerful, down through the years it still resonates. Music reflects life changes and experience and these men were not too proud to show their vulnerability. Extraordinary musicianship and singing make this album and enduring classic. West Side Soul -

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