As The Blues emerged towards the end of the 19th Century its home, and roots, was in the African American community, many of whom were still enslaved. However with slavery diminishing the blues reflected the African American's new found freedom. No longer was the chant one from toil but a leisure time activity.
The first ever recording of the blues was in 1895. This was George W. Johnson's "Laughing Song". Initially the music was Folk Blues but by the 1920's the Blues as we know this music was being sung. The Country Blues had a brief spell of success but the Blues lost popularity with the great depression. This soulful music was no doubt to near the mark and way too depressing.
A Blues revival followed in the 1960's after white musicians from the U.S.A and the U.K discovered the old recordings of the early blues men and women. It is now recognized that the blues influenced many other genres of music, such as rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and rap. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Beatles all recorded or played some of the early blues tracks.
John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, Sonny Terry and Brownie Magee were still recording and performing when this blogger was young. White modern Blues artists, such as John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers and The John Dummer Blues band, began recording as the Blues became more popular. Although the Blues is not as popular today, it still has a wide fan base.
Brought up from an early age to appreciate The Blues and a wide range of music here are some personal favourites:
POST-WAR BLUES CHICAGO VOLUME 1
Our copy is an original, on vinyl from 1965. In a plain white cover, that is more grey now, this uninspiring sleeve gives no clue to the gem within. There is no track listing just a list of performers. The track listing however can be found online, and it is:
Chicago the post-war blues volume 1
- Brutal Hearted Woman
- Evening Sun
Willie Nix & His Combo
- Just Can't Stay
- All By Yourself
"Little" Willie Foster
- Falling Rain Blues
- Four Day Jump
J B. Hutto & His Hawks
- Pet Cream Man
- Lovin' You
- Ora-Nelle Blues
- I Just Keep Loving Her
- Worried Man Blues
- Money Taking Woman
- Knocking On Lula Mae's Door
- Rythm Rockin' Boogie [sic]
Junior Wells & His Eagle Rockers
- Hodo Man [sic]
- Junior's Wail
Born 1915 Billie died in 1959. The essential Billie Holiday (The voice of a Lady), double CD, includes many classic tracks by this long gone blues singer whose voice is as haunting and earthy as ever. Her all too brief life was never easy but Billie left behind many soulful, blues recordings. Particular favourite tracks are :-
What a little moonlight can do to you.
These foolish things.
I can't give you anything but love.
Am I blue.
God bless the child.
There are quite a few Essential Billie Holiday CDs online.
With 23 tracks this CD is not quite the Ultimate Collection that it claims to be but it is not far off. Bessie is thought to have been born in 1894 and began her professional career in 1912. Bessie's mother died when Bessie was only eight-years-old and so the family were very poor. No wonder she became such a powerful and strong willed, young woman. Bessie was proud to be black and despised blacks who attempted to become like whites. Bessie's sound was not as soft as Billie Holiday's but was equally distinctive.Bessie was killed in an automobile accident in September, 1937, just as a comeback in her career was imminent. Favourite tracks are:-
Nobody know's you when you're down and out.
'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do
St Louis Blues has original recordings from 1924-1925
JOHN LEE HOOKER
John Lee Hooker's Boogie Chillum. This double play CD has 28 classic Hooker tracks with his distinctive guitar playing and traditional earthy blues voice, which at times is more talking than singing. John Lee Hooker was born on August 22nd 1917 and died June 21st 2001. Favourite tracks:-
Memphis Slim (Peter Chatman) was born in 1915 and died in 1988. Memphis has boogie woogie piano and smooth blues vocals. The title track Every day I have the Blues became Memphis's most famous track and has been recorded by jazz, soul and blues artistes down the years. Favourite tracks:-
Empty Room Blues
Howlin' Wolf was born Chester Arthur Burnett in 1910 and died in 1976. He is also someone that this blogger was lucky enough to see perform live when she was young. Wolf inspired the Rhythm and Blues artistes of the 60s. His gravelly, rough edged voice fits perfectly with his guitar and harmonica playing. Spoonful and Smokestack Lightnin' were popularised by Wolf. Favourite tracks on Howlin' Wolf - Come Back Home are :-
How Many More Years
Come Back Home.
20 tracks from "The most powerful vocalist"
Born 1918 died 1963. The first track Dust My Broom was recorded by such greats as the early Fleetwood Mac. With a rough and tumble rocking sort of Blues, Elmore became very popular with another generation in the 60's Favourite tracks are:-
Dust my Broom
Shake your moneymaker
Rollin' and Tumblin'
Standing at the crossroads
I can't stop lovin' you
The immortal Elmore James-King of the Bottleneck guitar.
20 Classic tracks by another inspirational Blues Man. Muddy Waters. Born 1913 and died 1983. The CD has 20 tracks. Favourite track:-
They call me Muddy Waters.
Hey Bo Diddley has 21 tracks and a running time of 55 minutes. Another man who was an influence to the bands of the 60's. With his powerful guitar playing andslightly wacky dancing he was just fabulous. You will find many recordings free to download online or loads to buy. There are so many classics and favourite tracks, on my CD, but here are a few:-
Hey Bo Diddley
I'm A Man
So there you have nine of this blogger's favourite blues albums. Of course there are hundreds more just waiting to come out of the closet, quite literally. With old vinyl LPs such as Sonny Terry and Brownee Magee lurking in a dusty corner of our home it could be time to go on a music hunt.