Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anatomy of Songs

Saturday, July 26, 2014

'Crazy 'Bout My Baby' - Snooky Pryor

James 'Snooky' Pryor was a Chigaco blues harp player, who enjoyed early success in the 50's. He made his comeback to music in the 80's and 90's , and died in 2006. 

Here's a song from his 1989 album, 'Snooky', featuring the iconic Chicago blues sound: 

Have a Bluesy Eid!

Design by Bachir Najjar

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'I Been Down So Long' - Louisiana Red

Iverson Minter, known as Louisiana Red, was a prolific bluesman. He began recording for Chess Records in 1949, but then joined the Army. After his discharge, he played with John Lee Hooker in Detroit in the late '50s, and he recorded and performed heavily in the 1960s and 1970's. He moved Germany 1981 and stayed there until his death in 2012. 

In 1983 he won a W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Blues Male Artist. 

His style is mostly acoustic Delta blues, but the song below shows off his Chicago style

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pink Floyd Sang The Blues Too

This is not Seamus, but Nobs, from The Live in Pompeii concert. 

The Beatles did it. Cyndi Lauper did it. Shit, even Steven Seagal did it. So, why can't Pink Floyd?

The Floyd, known for their psychedelic rock experiments, got a dog, named Seamus, into the studio and recorded a 12-bar blues with Seamus howling in the background like a sick dog. The slide guitar playing by David Gilmour and the bluesy piano of Richard Wright keep things bluesy. Roger Waters is on bass. The song appears on the 1971 album, Meddle.

Just another example of the cross-genre usage of the blues!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Closer Look: 'I Can't Be Satisfied' - Muddy Waters

In two separate sessions back in 1941 and 1942, an aspiring young Muddy Waters recorded a few songs with famed folk historian Alan Lomax in a plantation in Stovall, Mississippi. These recordings were eventually released in 1993. 

He didn't hear back from him, as he hoped, and a year later traveled up north to Chicago in pursuit of his dream of being a successful musician. 

It  wasn't until 1948 however, when Muddy released 'I Can't Be Satisfied' on the Aristocrat label (later changed to Chess Records) and finally with it, came his eternal fame.

You see, while it's a simple 12-bar blues, with only an upright bass accompaniment by Ernest "Big" Crawford who banged the fingerboard to create a shuffling rhythm, Muddy played stripped down, raw Mississippi Delta blues. The twist was it was on an electric guitar.

It squealed and had an overdriven sound that was still in it's infancy back in that time, and soon enough the label couldn't release enough records to meet the demand.

The song was played in the typical Delta blues style, using open G tuning (D-B-G-D-G-D high to low), which facilitates easier slide playing and open chording. What he did was basically electrify the sound of the Delta blues, which was heard by those who left their homes in the South and it clicked immediately.

The words also reflect the travelling blues lifestyle such as:

"Well I'm goin' away to leave 
Won't be back no more 
Goin' back down south, child Don't you want to go? 

As well as the violent nature of the blues:

"Well I feel like snappin'
a Pistol in your face
I'mma let some graveyard
Lord be her resting place"

with the repeating chorus being:

"Woman I'm troubled, I be all worried in mind 
Well baby I just can't be satisfied
 And I just can't keep from cryin'"

On his Grammy winning 1977 comeback album Hard Again, released with help of the late Johnny Winter, a newly recorded version was included, 29 years later:

Since then, Muddy Waters was known as the 'King of the Electric Chicago Blues', for sparking the new sound that led to the new decade of dominance in the 1950's.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blues Legend Johnny Winter Passes Away at Age 70

This is a truly sad day for the blues; the blues and guitar legend Johnny Winter has passed away at the age of 70. No cause of death has been announced, but Johnny was in a frail state of health for a while.

Johnny Winter was a pioneer in the world of guitar playing and the blues; his unique guitar sound and skills along side his gritty voice led him to stardom in the mid-60's, performing at Woodstock in 1969 and has released 20 albums, including the seminal 'Johnny Winter' and 'Second Winter'.

He was instrumental in the huge comeback of bluesman Muddy Waters, releasing four albums (one of them live) on Blue Sky Records and he was featured on all four, three of them winning Grammy awards.

He was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, and is ranked 63rd in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". 

It is a truly sad day and it will have a huge impact on the world of music. 

Here are a few videos of Johnny in action; Rest in Peace and May the Blues Be With You.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

BBC2 Launches Poll for the Top 100 Greatest Guitar Riffs

Obviously you know which one I'd choose!

When you hear a song, usually, especially in blues and rock, there's a recurring 'riff', or a repeated musical phrase that 'defines' the song. The best examples I can give is 'Smoke on the Water' or 'Enter Sandman'. Those songs among thousands of others are built upon a riff.

Now that you are familiar with what a riff is, go to BBC2 can check out the poll they are launching to determine the Top 100 Greatest Guitar Riffs.

Of course them being assholes, the vote is not available to anyone outside the UK, but at least we can see the results.

The page has 100 songs you can listen to and choose from. The polls will last until 25 July.

I can see the following blues songs on the list:

- Mannish Boy - Muddy Waters
- Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley
- Boom Boom - John Lee Hooker
- Johnny B Goode - Chuck Berry

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blues With Soul: 'Trouble Blues' - Charles Brown

Charles Brown was a blues ballad singer and pianist, and was a key transitional figure between 1940's cool jazz-influenced R&B and rock 'n' roll.

He performed almost non-stop from the 40's up until his death in 1999; his music was also featured many times in the Billboard R&B charts. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Some of his most famous tunes are 'Driftin' Blues', 'Black Night', 'Get Yourself Another Fool', and the one highlighted for today, 'Trouble Blues'. This song is a variation on the standard 'Someday Baby Blues' which was interpreted by many bluesmen, including Muddy Waters who called his version 'Trouble No More':

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blues & Jazz Unite: Muddy Waters and Dizzy Gillespie

Blues and Jazz are blood brothers; you can't talk about one without discussing the other. The saying goes "The Blues is the Preacher and Jazz is the Teacher".

So it's pretty obvious that one day they should share the stage... indeed, Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker recorded the soundtrack for the Hotspot film. 

Another giant meeting was with Muddy Waters and Dizzy Gillespie, where the latter shared the stage with Muddy and his blues band for a few numbers, and was later released as an album. To hear the signature trumpet sound of Dizzy over a Chicago style 12-bar blues is dazzling!

Unfortunately there are no Youtube links to share... and for copyright reasons I can't post MP3 links. 

Suffice it to say that these cross genre collaborations are always fun to hear and watch.