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MOANIN' AT MIDNIGHT The Life And Times Of Howlin'Wolf Pantheon Books Wolf by James Segrest & Mark Offman ● CD $26.95
397 Pages, Hardcover, essential
Counts as seven CDs for shipping When you consider the amount of influence Howlin' Wolf has had on the music world, and the fact that no biography of his life had ever been published prior to now (28 years following his death), it's cause for celebration. "Moanin' At Midnight - The Life And Times Of Howlin' Wolf" was a project started years ago by James Segrest as he amassed information on this musical icon by interviewing friends and family and poring over historical documents. Sadly, the gathered information began collecting cobwebs, and as time passed, a few contemporaries of Howlin' Wolf expired in the process. Enter Mark Hoffman who picked up the ball and continued to press on. Approximately ten years after it was first begun, the finished product is available. Many may have previous knowledge of the tough childhood Wolf endured, but just how tough it was isn't apparent until now. Wolf's mother banishing him from home as a youngster troubled him for the rest of his life - and that was only one of his concerns. Wolf's military service records are opened, detailing just what he and his superiors thought at the time. Much has also been written about Wolf's musical undertakings beginning in Memphis, continuing on to Chicago, and later, to stages and concert halls around the world, but there's far more here than any fan could imagine. And while most hardcore followers will have (at least) minor knowledge of Wolf's medical problems in later years, just how painful and costly these were details generally not touched on in liner notes to albums, CDs or in documentary films. Along with loads of personal information on this hugely popular blues icon come previously unknown background topics on the many sidemen who accompanied Wolf throughout the years, and the list of those who worked side-by-side with him can be staggering to consider; James Cotton, Willie Johnson, Hubert Sumlin, Willie Steele, Detroit Junior, Henry Gray, Pat Hare, Eddie Shaw, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, Jody Williams, and far too many more to mention. Also included are accounts of Wolf's impact on rock music and its practitioners; Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Mick Jagger, among a host of others. Segrest and Hoffman went about writing this book with a deep sense of passion for both the artist and his music. That passion breathes from the pages and pulls the reader in. However, the authors don't put Wolf on a pedestal and shield his legacy from those who saw the less-friendly side of him from time to time; they are quick to point out the shortfalls of the artist, be they musical or personal in nature. But if there's one drawback, it's the thirty-five pages of notes that come at the book's conclusion, and after the first few pages it's understood that the notes don't refer to much aside from sources. Unlike some biographies, the notes here are simply notes and nothing more. Packed with useful information, humorous anecdotes, and memories of a legend, also included are a number of rare and previously unpublished photos. While a discography/sessionography is included, it is somewhat light in nature (no matrix numbers, no original issue information, and no references to alternate takes are given). These few minor bumps don't detract from the overall enjoyment the book provides as we are given an opportunity to walk next to a true blues giant. Highly recommended and well worth waiting for. (CR)

TRUMPET RECORDS Diamonds On Farish Street by Marc W. Ryan University Of Mississippi ● CD $17.95
Paper, 228 pages, counts as four CDs for shipping purposes, highly recommended
Republication of 1992 Big Nickel book focussing on the important Jackson, Mississippi label Trumpet. In the 7 years it operated (1950-56) it recorded such important blues and gospel performers as Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams, Elmore James, Willie Love, Arthur Crudup, Jerry McCain, Southern Sons Quartette, Blue Jay Gospel Singers - many of whom made their recording debut on Trumpet. The label also recorded fine country musicians like The Hodges Brothers, Bill Nettles, Lucky Joe Almond and others. The story of the start and growth of the label and the career of the performers recorded makes for fascinating reading and includes much material gathered in extensive interviews with the label founder and owner Lillian McMurray. The book features numerous photos - many of them published here for the first time along plus label illustrations and period ads and reviews. Also included are a complete session discography, listing of original single issues, list of chart appearance and (new to this edition) a list of compact disc reissues. A lot of work went into this by Ryan who had access to much previously unpublished material. (FS)

TRUMPET RECORDSDiamonds On Farish Street by Marc W. Ryan University Of Mississippi ● CD $45.95
Hardbound, 228 pages, counts as five CDs for shipping purposes, highly recommended See above.

Well it's that time agin and we have another spectacular blues calendar from the indefatigable John Tefteller. This 12"x 12" beauty features reproductions of 12 of the images discovered by collector Tefteller drawn from a cache of original artwork for advertisements printed in African-American newspapers in the late 20s and early 30s by the Paramount Record Company advertising their latest blues releases. Some of these have been published before from third generation microfilm - these are immaculate reproductions from the original artwork. Illustrations includes 12x12 ads for songs by Skip James, Ma Rainey, Ed Bell, Charley Patton, Blind Blake, The Beale Street Sheiks and others along with lots of smaller sized ads. The calendar includes sample song lyrics, brief biographies and birth and death dates for many blues artists. But wait! There's more! The calendar comes with a bonus CD featuring 16 rare blues tracks, mostly from the Paramount label and including a recording of all the songs in the main advertisements plus four bonus recently discovered songs one each by King Solomon Hill and Blind Joe Reynolds which have been reissued by Yazoo and two titles by the Memphis Jug Band which have never appeared anywhere before. Since these would make such a great gift if you buy five or more calendars you can get them for $15.98 each! Calendar/ CD set counts as four CDs for shipping purposes.

ERIC BIBB Telarc 83619 Friends ● CD $17.98
15 tracks, 58 minutes, very good
With friends like Taj Mahal, Guy Davis, Charlie Musselwhite, Harry Manx, Odetta and others in tow, Eric Bibb is in good form, although again light on blues content. The gritty harp on Six O'Clock Blues from Musselwhite is excellent and Taj Mahal delivers an aged performance (sounding his usual world-weary self) on Goin' Down Slow, but the remainder of the set, while very solid, is comprised of folk, pop, and world-music with Martin Simpson, Mamadou Diabate, Djelimady Tounkara and others assisting handily. The true delight is the sense of fun and friendship present at these sessions, and although Bibb isn't your straight-ahead modern blues interpreter, he's centered and focused on making impressive records that cover a wide musical palette. (CR)

RONNIE EARL & THE BROADCASTERS Stony Plain 1298 Now My Soul ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 77 minutes, highly recommended
Ronnie Earl returns hot on the heels of his 2003 Stony Plain debut ("I Feel Like Goin' On") with a solid follow-up burning with more intense blues guitar and a few special guests along for the ride. Kim Wilson steps in and handles vocals on four tracks - Double Trouble/ Abandoned/ Black & White/ My Buddy Buddy Friends while Greg Piccolo handles the singing on the title track. Wilson's harp playing is the usual fierce and expressive style he's known for and he stands out on Walter Through Kim, a searing five-minute romp paying tribute to Big Walter Horton. The Silver Leaf Gospel Singers deliver the heartfelt Walkin' On The Sea. Earl's guitar is well to the fore throughout and he offers up a handful of instrumentals, #7/ Blues For J/ Kay My Dear/ Maxwell, Mudcat And Per and The Magic Of Sam. (CR)

THE HARLEM HAMFATS Fabulous 253 Let's get Drunk & Truck ● CD $7.98
Budget priced 14 track introduction to the music of this excellent Chicago studio group that blended blues, jazz and hokum - Oh! Red/ Let's Get Drunk & Truck/ The Garbage Man/ Hamfat Swing/ Hallelujah Joe Ain't Preachin' No More/ We Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie/ Black Gal You Better Use Your Head, etc

CRAIG HORTON Big Daddy 0022 Touch Of The Bluesman ● CD $16.98
12 tracks, 47 minutes, excellent
While his career has spanned some five decades, Craig Horton was a virtual unknown until his premier outing, "In My Spirit" , made some big waves in 2001. He returns with more fiery and unpredictable guitar work and a soulful voice while a full band pushes him mightily. A heaping plate of shuffles, slow blues, bumps and grinds, and more make "Touch Of The Bluesman" a solid follow-up. Produced by Rusty Zinn, Horton proves he was no fluke with the burning original, Elizabeth while Percy Mayfield's Serve Me Right To Suffer might remind some of Chicago's Jimmy Johnson. Big sound, big guitar, and big blues sure to please! Here's hoping there's more in store from Craig Horton soon. (CR)

ALBERT AMMONS, PETE JOHNSON & MEADE LUX LEWIS Storyville 1038057 The Boogie Woogie Trio, Vol. 1 & 2 ● CD $29.98
Two CDs, 45 tracks, 119 mins, highly recommended
Two CD set previously issued as two single CDs (Storyville 8025 & 8026) featuring 45 tracks drawn from live broadcasts and radio transcriptions made between 1939 and 1954 by three piano giants. A dozen of the tracks fine there the three together performing as a trio while the rest are solo performances. Includes Boogie Woogie Prayer/ Cuttin' The Boogie/ The Sheik Of Araby/ Boogie Woogie Man/ Swanee River Blues/ St Louis Blues/ Spooney Sam/ Six Wheel Chaser/ Whistling Blues/ Woo Woo/ Bear Cat Crawl/ Mama's Blues/ Boogie Woogie/ Four O' Clock Blues>, etc. Excellent sound and brief notes by Larry Hoffman. If you don't have the original single discs then this is a must for piano boogie lovers. (FS)

MEMPHIS SLIM Savoy Jazz 17296 I'll Just Keep On Singin' The Blues ● CD $9.98
12 tracks, 32 mins, highly recommended
This collection keeps turning up on different labels but if you don't already have it it's definitely worth your time. Excellent 1961 set originally recorded for the Strand label which was to be Slim's last U.S. session before relocating to Europe. He is in fine voice and plays some great piano and is accompanied by a tough combo with Johnny Board on tenor sax, John Calvin on alto and the brilliant Matt Murphy on guitar. Murphy's guitar playing is particularly fine on songs like Lonesome/ It's Been Too Long and I'll Just Keep On Singing The Blues - his solos are quintessential electric blues guitar. (FS)

SAM MYERS Electro-Fi 3383 Coming From The Old School ● CD $15.98
14 tracks, 69 minutes, recommended
For the first time in two decades, harp wizard Sam Myers steps up to deliver a solo recording without Anson Funderburgh at his side, but fear not, guitarist Mel Brown handles the chores with grit and tone to spare. Myers covers some tried-and-true gems from Sonny Boy Williamson (Ninety Nine), Otis Spann (Burning Fire), and Robert Lockwood Jr. (My Daily Wish) and makes them his own with tough harp and gripping vocals. Mel Brown's guitar stands out but steers clear of over-crowding Myers' sparse style and the eleven originals are tight and marked with excellence - I'm Tired Of Your Jive/ Waitin' On You Mama/ Money Is My Downfall/ I Got The Blues and more are more than worthwhile. It's refreshing to hear Myers in solid form without his sidekick of two-plus decades, but this isn't the end of collaborative efforts from Myers and Funderburgh - they'll be back. (CR)

PAUL OSCHER Electro-Fi 3384 Alone With The Blues ● CD $15.98
17 tracks, 68 minutes, highly recommended
While Paul Oscher remains less-heralded than his talent deserves, he ranks as one of the most expressive and soulful blues performers around today. His harp playing is adventurous while remaining true to his predecessors and his tone is something to marvel at. This near seventy-minute disc is proof-positive of how focused and brilliant he is, decades after landing on the blues circuit as Muddy Waters' first white bandmate in the 1960's. Jimmy Rogers' classic That's Alright gets a fierce reading with tight harp and Oscher's guitar on the original Standing At The Crossroads sounds as if it were recorded during the Ora-Nelle sessions back in the heyday of Chicago Blues. Big Joe Turner's Juke Joint, Robert Nighthawk's Anna Lee, Leroy Carr's Blues Before Sunrise, and Mississippi John Hurt's Louis Collins stand out as solid covers without being stuck in the past as Oscher puts his own stamp on them. A highly worthwhile recording. (CR)

THE SAM BROTHERS 5 Arhoolie 9044 Sam (Get Down) ● CD $9.98
12 tracks, recommended Reissue of Arhoolie 1081 from 1979. The Sam Brothers 5 are the sons of veteran Zydeco artist Herbert Sam of Opelousas and when this album was recorded were all in their teens. The group featured Leon (15 years old)/ lead singer & accordion ; Carl (18)/ guitar; Rodney (16)/ drums; Glen (13)/ bass ; and Calvin (11). In spite of their youth the group sings and plays with an authority that belies their youth. They perform original songs, songs by their father (who guest on vocals and accordion on two tracks) and two from the "king" Clifton Chenier. Includes Sam (Get Down)/ La La Waltz/ Roll Me Baby/ Going Down To Big Mary/ I'm A Hog For You/ Country Boy and others. Lots of fun! (FS)

VARIOUS ARTISTS Ace CDCHD 1017 Diggin' Gold - A Galaxy Of West Coast Blues ● CD $23.98
Fine collection of 25 soul flavored blues from the vaults of Galaxy Records recorded in the mid 60s. It includes 8 tracks by the great Little Johnny Taylor (4 of them previously unissued) plus Rob Robinson (3 tracks, 2 previously unissued), Del Cunningham (2 tracks), Clay Hammond (4 tracks, 2 unissued), Billy Keene (2 tracks, 1 unissued), Joe Johnson (2 tracks), Bill McAfee (2 tracks), Good Time Charlie and Saunders King. Includes 12 page booklet with extensive notes by Alec Palao.
DEL CUNNINGHAM: Just Wondering/ Lay Up In Bed & Read/ GOOD TIME CHARLIE: Watch That Stuff/ CLAY HAMMOND: Baby It's Alright/ It's All Over Now (no Use Crying)/ My Baby Left Me Crying/ There's Gonna Be Some Changes/ JOE JOHNSON: Gold Diggin' Man/ Rattlesnake, Baby, Rattlesnake/ BILLY KEENE: Too Far Beyond Repair/ You're A Deserter/ SAUNDERS KING: Sk Blues/ BILL MCAFEE: I Don't Know Why/ My Love/ ROB ROBINSON: Compact Baby/ Nobody But You/ Talk To You Baby/ LITTLE JOHNNY TAYLOR: As Quick As I Can/ Darling I Wonder/ Kiss Me Baby/ Looking At The Future/ My Love Is Real/ On My Way Back Home/ She's Yours, She's Mine/ You Gotta Go On

VARIOUS ARTISTS Ace CDCHD 1022 Mellow Cats 'n' Kittens ● CD $18.98
First in a short new series devoted to the blues and R&B scene in Los Angeles in the late 40s and early 50s drawn from the vaults of Modern Records. Most of the 24 tracks here are new to CD and the set includes 13 originally unissued tracks and five previously unissued alternate takes. It includes sides by Little Willie Littlefield, The Three Bits Of Rhythm (including a fabulous unissued jive version of the spiritual Shadrack), Wild Bill Moore & His Orch., Jake Porter & His Orch., Jimmy "T-99" Nelson, Dick Lewis & His Orch., Jimmy Witherspoon, Tiny Webb (superb session guitarist with a rare solo side with some lovely guitar work), Bardu Ali & His Orch., Effie Smith, The Robins, Butch Stone & His Orch. and others. Includes 12 page booklet with notes from R&B expert Billy Vera.
BARDU ALI AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Boogie Rebob/ That Gal Safronia/ BUBBER CYPHERS AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Walkin' Boogie/ THE HERB FISHER TRIO: People Who Have Money Are Funny/ HELEN HUMES: Hey Hey Baby/ DICK LEWIS AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Good, Good Wine/ LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD: Mello Kats/ WILD BILL MOORE ORCH.: Rock 'n' Roll/ JIMMY "T99" NELSON: Bad Habit Blues/ GENE PHILLIPS AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Women, Women, Women/ JAKE PORTER AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Jake's Boogie In E Flat/ Original Safronia/ THE PETER RABBIT TRIO: Hootie/ They Raided The Joint/ THE ROBBINS: That's What The Good Book Says/ SCAT MAN: Exactly Like You/ EFFIE SMITH: I Live The Life I Love/ BUTCH STONE & HIS ORCHESTRA: I Got News For You/ BUTCH STONE AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Baby I Need You/ Ooh, Look-a-there, Ain't She Pretty/ THE THREE BITS OF RHYTHM: Root Beer Sizzle Sazzle Sizzle (take 2)/ Shadrack/ TINY WEBB: What's The Use, Baby/ JIMMY WITHERSPOON WITH BUDDY FLOYD'S ORCH.: Don't Ever Move A Woman Into Your House

VARIOUS ARTISTS ACT 6000 Lost Blues Tapes/ More American Folk Blues Festival ● CD $25.98
Two CDs, 32 tracks, recommended
Previously issued as two separate CDs this set features previously unissued recordings of American Folk Blues Festivals recorded between 1963 and 1965. The first disc was recorded live in Germany in 1963 and opens with two tracks by Memphis Slim followed by four by Muddy Waters - two solo sides with his own acoustic guitar and two with the Festival "house band" (Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Matt " Guitar" Murphy and Bill Stepney). He is followed by Sonny Boy Williamson - two accompanied and one solo piece. He followed by Otis Spann (who only does one cut), Lonnie Johnson (2), Victoria Spivey (1) and Big Joe Williams (3). The performances are all fine but a bit restrained - perhaps the artists were feeling intimidated as, for most them, it was their first time in front of a European audience. The second disc is drawn from studio sessions. John Lee Hooker contributes a driving alternate take of Della May (Mae) -- Muddy Waters gives us a rather folky rendition Captain, Captain (which he also did on the live set), Big Mama Thornton sings an alternate take of Hound Dog, and Sugar Pie Desanto spins out a throaty version of You Got Me Running. The funkiest moment, however, belongs to one-man-band Doctor Ross who does 5 pounding minutes of Farewell Baby. Other luminaries include Willie Dixon, Big Walter Horton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Buddy Guy, J. B. Lenoir, Fred McDowell, Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Sleepy John Estes, and Hammie Nixon. How could they have ever lost this stuff? (FS/ JC)

VARIOUS ARTISTS Buzzola 005 Diabolical Hoodoo ● CD $15.98
Entertaining if too brief collection of 18 songs and tunes on the subject of devilry, doom, ghosts and hellfire recorded between 1920 and 1952. Most of the performers are blues or gospel artists and the set includes Satan Is Busy In Knoxville by Leola Manning, Somebody Hoodooed The Hoodoo Man by Louis Jordan, Stay On The Right Side Of The Road by Norridge Mayhams & The Blue Chips, Black Cat Bone by Lightnin' Hopkins, Devil Got My Woman by Skip James, Haunted Blues by Memphis Minnie and others including jazz guitarist John Cali with Satan Takes A Holiday and the weird Hawaiian guitar instrumental Ghost Dance by Truett & George. Sound quality is excellent and the digipack packaging is great with an atmospheric cover painting and illustrations of pulp magazine covers are featured on the back cover and in the enclosed booklet which also has informative notes by Neil Kellas. (FS)

VARIOUS ARTISTS Delmark 775 The United Records Story ● CD $11.98
22 tracks, 61 minutes, excellent
The "United Records Story" might be rather short-lived (the label and its subsidiary, States, were only in existence from 1951 to 1957 when a lack of income forced the operation to shut its doors), but in its time, some serious recording went on. This fine compilation hands in some booting sax-led jump (Leo Parker - Cool Leo / Chris Woods - Somebody Stole My Blues / Tab Smith - Crazy Walk), vocal harmony (The Four Blazes - Raggedy Ride / The Pastels - Goodbye), and much more. Of special interest to blues listeners are Roosevelt Sykes' Fine And Brown, Junior Wells' Cut That Out (both alternate takes), Robert Nighthawk's Seventy Four, J.T. Brown's Walking Home, Memphis Slim's Memphis Slim U.S.A. and other tracks from Morris Pejoe, Dennis Binder, Alfred Harris, and Tiny Grimes. Also featured are Grant Jones, Paul Bascomb, Della Reese, Jimmy Forrest, and Robert Anderson & His Gospel Caravans. Sound quality is superb throughout with liner notes and complete session information filling out the package. A wonderful set that crosses many borders and styles. (CR)
ROBERT ANDERSON: Come In The Room/ PAUL BASCOMB: Nona/ DENNIS BINDER: Long Man, The/ J.T. BROWN: Walking Home/ JIMMY COE: Organ Grinder/ JIMMY FORREST: Sophisticated Lady/ THE FOUR BLAZES: Raggedy Ride/ TINY GRIMES: Tiny's Boogie/ ALFRED HARRIS: My Life Blues/ GRANT JONES: In The Dark/ RAY MCKINSTRY: Dinah/ MEMPHIS SLIM: Memphis Slim U.s.a./ ROBERT NIGHTHAWK: Seventy Four/ LEO PARKER: Cool Leo/ THE PASTELS: Goodbye/ MORRIS PEJOE: Let's Get High/ DELLA REESE: Yes Indeed/ TAB SMITH: Crazy Walk/ ROOSEVELT SYKES: Fine And Brown/ JUNIOR WELLS: Cut That Out/ JOHNNY WICKS: Jockey Jack Boogie/ CHRIS WOODS: Somebody Done Stole My Blues

VARIOUS ARTISTS Savoy 7095 Great Ladies of Gospel ● CD $16.98
16 track CD reissue of two LP set featuring a broad spectrum of gospel styles. Inez Andrews, Rosie Wallace and others are set against live church backgrounds while fervent efforts by Shirley Caeser and Clara Ward evoke the same. Presenting female gospel divas in live concert is one of the best ways of hearing what real gospel music is all about, and it's all here. Standouts include Answer Me Dear Jesus by Dorothy Norwood (live) and Precious Memories by Sister Rosetta Tharpe (studio). Other soloists include Ruth Davis, Dorothy Love Coates, Cassietta George, Albertina Walker, Sara Jordan Powell, Mattie Moss Clark, Gloria Griffin, Myrna Summers, Roberta Martin and Delores Barrett. Scant notes but great fidelity. First rate collectionm. (OLN)

VARIOUS ARTISTS Stax 8612 Windy City Blues ● CD $12.98
17 tracks, highly recommended The main reason to get this set are for the four previously unissued tracks by Albert King record at a demo session in Chicago in 1970. Produced by Willie Dixon, Albert is backed by an excellent group including Matt Murphy & Mighty Joe Young on guitars, Phil Upchurch on bass, Lafayette Leake on piano and Morris Jennings on drums with an excellent horn section dubbed on later. Albert is in top form with powerful vocals and some stunning guitar, particularly on the opening track The Lovin'est Woman In Town. The rest of the tracks, all fine performances, are from sessions recorded between 1960 and '64 for Prestige and most have been out before on CD including Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Billy Boy Arnold and Sunnyland Slim plus three unissued alternate takes by Homesick James from his "Blues From The South Side" album which are not dramtically different from the issued versions but are nice to have. Includes informative notes by Lee Hildebrand. (FS)


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