Back in 1960-1961 Freddie King released a song called “Hideaway” on the Federal label and reached the top of the blues charts for several weeks. Sources write that Hound Dog Taylor wrote the song in 1960 and Freddie took some parts of it for his version of the hit. Hound Dog version didn’t reach as high as Freddie’s and he didn’t get any credit but, in any case, he recorded the most badass version of them all.
This isn’t about the punk classic “London Calling”, we are calling Chicago, through British bluesman Cyril Davies. His “Chicago Calling” is everything a good blues song needs. Kicking off with a killer honky-tonk Piano tune, and wild swinging harmonica melodies the up-tempo vocals start in. “Chicago Calling” is enjoyable every one of the 145 seconds.
Well, the swinging rhythms and virtuous harmonica might indicate this is a happy song, but Sonny Boy Williamson’s II “Your Funeral, My Trial”, is a gangsta rap kind of song. It was recorded on his debut album Down and Out Blues and released on Checker records in 1959.
King of the Harmonica
Sonny Boy Williamson has always been a mysterious figure. That gives in some way a romantic side to his story. We are not sure when he was born and also his birth name is uncertain. But we do know that Williamson was one hell of a harmonica player. Multiple songs show his gifted talent and dedication to this instrument. His hit song “Nine Below Zero” is a perfect example of why they called him the king of the Harmonica.
“Please come home to your daddy, and explain yourself to me
Because I and you are man and wife, tryin’ to start a family
I’m beggin’ you baby, cut out that off the wall jive
If you can’t treat me no better, it gotta be your funeral and my trial”
He was a blues singer with more social and political themes in his music than any other blues artist around. a man who’s lyrics were so politically critic that it made him notorious. Like that day in the 1950s when his “Eisenhower Blues” was politically potent enough to warrant investigation by the House of un-American activities.
J.B. Lenoir blues ballad “How Much More”
There is so much to learn from J.B. Lenoir these days in the field of music activism, but first, you’ve got to enjoy his swinging blues songs which are a big part of his repertoire. Cause besides his protest songs, he also recorded blues love ballads like “How Much More”, a song that features the heartache of waiting for love poetically. He sings on a honky tonk and grooving rhythm “If I should die and should die before my time, If I should die, and should die before my time; Don’t you forget, you forever on my mind”.
How long? How much more long, how long?
How long? How much more long, how long?
How long, ‘fore you bring your love
Special version Built For Comfort – Howlin’ Wolf
In November 1968 Howlin’ Wolf recorded for Cadet Concept Records (a subsidiary of Chess Records) the Howlin’ Wolf Album which contains a whole different sound than we are used from Wolf. The album incorporates use of wah-wah pedal and fuzzbox, unconventional rhythms, beats and influences from Psychedelic Rock. Producer Marshall Chess augmented the rhythm of Howlin Wolf’s live band with the use of electric organ and saxophone.
Chicago blues project: A living History
These guys made the roots of all popular music. It were legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and many other Chicago Bluesmen. They blew me away with their songs like “The Blues Had a Baby and they named it rock ‘n roll” and “Wang dang Doolde”. The long and fascinating history of Chicago Blues is still an inspiration for many musicians, The greatest artist in the blues came, performed or recorded songs in this city.
The Chicago Blues made the blues grittier and raw like city life ensembles. A new project Alive and Kicking, Chicago Blues a Living History tries to continue this legacy and therefore a campaign on Kickstarter kicked off.
Earl Hooker – Off The Hook 1969
He is one of the great Chicago Blues slide Guitarist and you can easily compare his virtuosity to Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor. His surname reminds you of that other great bluesman John Lee, but Earl Hooker was an unique figure in the blues. His talent is perfectly recorded in the video Off the Hook from a 1969 performance.
Records for multiple Labels
During his career Earl Hooker recorded for Cuca, Chief/Profile/Age, Arhoolie and Bluesway records. He collaborated with almost every great bluesman around, including Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, BB King and John Lee Hooker.