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Alan's Blues Page

"The first time I meet the Blues"

I have had for many many years a great love of the  Blues. It all started when I was at art school in the 1960s, one of my fellow students had brought in a  45 r.p.m. E.P. (extended play album) called "Louisiana Blues featuring Muddy Waters with Little Walter." He put the record on the turntable and I heard for the first time, the slow, raw, haunting, melodic sound of the  "Mississippi Blues" with its perfect harmony between Muddy Waters (vocal and electric guitar) and Little Walter (harmonica). As it played a tingle ran down my spine and shiver crossed my face. After over 30 years, I still have the same feeling, every time I hear those tracks. I listened, intrigued to the instrumental on the same E.P.  "Evan's Shuffle," who was that who shouted out well "all right, all right" towards then end of the track after the tantalising silent break. Was it a man or a woman? Who were these two players? The only clue was a simple line drawing on the cover of two black guys, why had these two had such strange names? The only other clue was the note on the back that said it was a Chess American recording. All a mystery then to a 17 year old art student who up to then had been buying Eddie Cochran, The Ventures and Buddy Holly records!

vougue ep cover The recording was issued by Decca on their Vogue label. I managed to get together the seven shillings and six pence (37p.) and rushed to my local record store "Discland"  in Gravesend to order this magical record. To my great disappointment, I found it had been long deleted and could not be ordered. To make it worse no company in the UK held the rights to distribute Chess Recordings who had recorded the original tracks. I wrote to chess records and was sent their "catalog" of Chess and Checker L.P. records and was amazed by all that was available, but sadly not to me all I could do was look. Louisiana Blues was to appear in 1964 on the re-issue in the U.K. of "Best of Muddy Waters" L.P. on the Pye R&B label. Pye Records obtained the rights around that time to distribute Chess and Checker recordings in the U.K. There was a great interest then in Blues and R&B brought about by the British "Beat Groups" boom. The L.P. was one of the first, and still most treasured, in my collection of blues recordings. It still sounds better than the CD version.

I eventually got to see Muddy Waters and his Blues Band playing at the "One Hundred Club" in Oxford Street, London in the early 1970s. I also had the privilege to hear and see Little Walter perform at the Black Prince Blues Club Bexley Kent, when he toured the English R&B Clubs shortly before his untimely death. The Black Prince was a great venue in the 1960's to see the visiting Blues artistes and the best of British bands such as The Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers.  Other blues stars  I saw included:  Sonny Boy, Little Walter, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Memphis Slim, Champion Jack Dupree . I had the privilege of a chat with Champion Jack in the break while he was in the garden with a tin collecting money for civil rights. Hardly anybody thought to go and speak with him.

Album coverI have been hooked ever since those 1960s art school days. Although I do not listen to blues to the exclusion of all else it is still my favourite type of music. The blues I listen to ranges from the 1930's recordings of Robert Johnson and Blind Willie McTell to artists such as Clarence "Gate mouth" Brown and Guy Davies. Why the picture of Chuck Berry well I just like his music too. My favourite two tracks are Carol and Merry Christmas Baby.

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Page revised February 02 2013

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