Thursday, January 03, 2013

Magic Sam - Raw Blues: Magic Sam Live 1969 (Rockbeat, 2012)

Blues musician “Magic Sam” Maghett was the total package. Flashing across the sky like a comet on his brief career, his extraordinary guitar playing and soulful vocals were unforgettable.  This album was recorded not long before his tragic death and consists of a live concert at Mandrakes in Berkeley, California in 1969. It’s a blistering performance, but with one caveat, that being the sound quality which is pretty weak: this was probably recorded from the audience, giving it bootleg quality sound. Sam’s guitar work is sterling and comes through pretty clearly, but his vocals can be buried. The guitar sound cuts like a lance on a couple of Freddie King covers, “San-Ho-Zay” and “Hide Away” but really every song on this album is excellent, and it must have been unbelieveable live. Sam made “Mama Talk to Your Daughter” his own and really nails it here, allowing the band to develop a propulsive groove that they ride clear through to the end of the performance. He wrings the emotion out of the the slower numbers too, his own “All of Your Love” and B.B. King’s “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now” simmer at a low boil, dripping with loss and loneliness. The bottom line is the sound quality: if you can handle the low fidelity, this disc is a must have for blues fans, Magic Sam hitting on all cylinders in a club setting is a force of nature. Raw Blues Live -

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