photo: Mark R. Mahar
Few tributes capture the spirit of the originals as flawlessly as Chicago Blues: A Living History, a 2CD-set initiated by producer Larry Skoller. With a four man core band consisting of Lurrie Bell, Billy Branch, John Primer and Billy Boy Arnold the musicians tackle the blues giants with both respect and glee. The set is split in two, with the first disc covering the 1940-1955 period and the second running from 1955 to the present - well 1991 actually, the year when Buddy Guy laid down Damn right, I've Got The Blues.
Rock 'n 'Roll wouldn't have existed without Chicago blues, whose players pioneered the use of electric guitar as a lead instrument. If you take music seriously you will be familiar with names like Elmore James, William Broonzey, Jimmy Reed, Juinior Wells, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters. The assembled blues players tip their hat to them and go for gut werenching, in your face music, because that what good blues is all about - feeling. And having a good time, despite all odds.
Traditionally classic bluee discography is rather hazy, but the liner notes on this album are highly accurate, with short bios about all involved musicians. The only notable flaw is the album's running time: a little over 74 minutes. All songs could have been fitted on a single disc.
The set has been nominated for a Grammy® Award and it should win by a landslide.
Chicago Blues: A Living History is released on Raisin' Music.