Friday, August 18, 2017

A Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume One, Track Two

Welcome back.  As mentioned last week, I have compiled a couple of mix CDs for some of my friends who have just started listening to the blues and wanted a few suggestions about who and what to listen to as they start out.

Back in olden times, when FBF was a weekly email to some of my co-workers, a couple of them told me that they had compiled the music files I included in my emails into a mix tape.  I thought that was a good idea, so I started keeping all of my music files in a folder on my desktop.  I am now using the folder's contents to compile my mix CDs.

There's really no rhyme or reason to how I'm compiling them, other than I think they sound good together, sort of like if you were listening to them on the radio.  Most of the songs right now are older ones because I'm guessing that most new blues fans would be more familiar with new artists, having maybe heard them live somewhere, or maybe seen a clip on the internet.  Eventually, I will start including newer songs, too, but in the meantime, here's Track Two of Disc #1:

CD One, Track Two:  "Son of Juke," by Billy Branch (from Satisfy Me)

You can't have a really good blues mix CD without a few instrumentals mixed in, and this is our first.  One of my favorites is this track from Billy Branch's Satisfy Me CD, which was released in the late 90's on the House of Blues record label.  Blues newbies may wonder where the title, "Son of Juke" comes from.  It's an amped-up sequel to "Juke," blues harmonica legend Little Walter's early 50's smash hit on Chess Records.

At one time, Billy Branch was considered a young gun on the Chicago blues scene.  He toured with Willie Dixon's Chicago Blues All-Stars in the mid 70's, replacing the great Carey Bell.  Also in the 70's, Branch formed the Sons of Blues, a band that featured several second generation Chicago blues artists (guitarist Lurrie Bell, son of Carey, and drummer Freddie Dixon, son of Willie).  This group has recorded several albums over the years and also employed a number of other young blues stars like guitarist Carl Weathersby.

Branch has also appeared on well over 100 recordings, plus a dozen of his own, and continues to play festivals and teaches as part of the "Blues in the Schools" program that has brought the history of the music to numerous students in schools all over the world.  Once a promising young star, Branch is now one of the veterans in the Windy City.  Be sure to check out some of his recordings when you get an opportunity.  Meanwhile, here's "Son of Juke."

As a bonus, here's the groundbreaking original source, from Little Walter, circa 1952.  Branch counts Little Walter as one of his biggest influences.  Compare the two tracks and see for yourself.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume One, Track One

Well, Friday Blues Fix is back!!  While it's still sort of hard to put together a lengthy post for now, we're going to try a little different format for now.  We will post on other blues-related items from time to time, too, as time permits, but today's post is similar to the Friday Blues Fix emails that I used to send out at work, which usually consisted of a song and a little bit of info about the song and artist.

Recently, I've met some new blues fans at work and around town.  Being new to the music, they've asked me questions about what and who to listen to.  To help them get a feel for the blues and give them the opportunity to hear a lot of different songs from different artists without them having to break the bank buying or downloading numerous albums or songs, I've compiled a couple of CD-R's to help them get their feet wet, so to speak.  What I thought I would do is use my old email format to present some of my favorite blues artists and songs from those homemade collections, so check back every week and see what we have to offer.

CD One, Track One:  "Cold Women With Warm Hearts," by Magic Slim and the Teardrops (from Gravel Road)

Magic Slim would have been 80 years old on August 7th, and hard as it is to believe, he's been gone for 4 1/2 years.  This was one of his first albums that I owned.  There was actually a time when there were very few Magic Slim albums available in the U.S.  In fact, this was his first release with Blind Pig Records, a label he spent over twenty years with.  The album came out in the early 90's, when John Primer served as his second guitarist.  One of the things I liked about this album was that Primer sang on three tracks.  To me, Primer was one of the most underrated artists in the Chicago Blues world, a potent force himself on vocals and guitar.

The song itself, "Cold Women With Warm House," kicks off Gravel Road and it's a great choice.  Slim recorded several live versions of this and the band always really settles into a groove every time, but this is my favorite version of it.  It was written by Sir Mack Rice, but was one of the highlights of Albert King's Truckload of Lovin' album from the mid 70's.  While I like King's version, Slim's rough and raw version knocks it out of the park to these ears.  Check out King's reading below and you be the judge.

FBF will continue to post a new track each week as time allows.  This will be a good chance for newer blues fans to build on their Blues Vocabulary and for older fans to revisit some old favorites.  Hope you enjoy!!

Cold women with warm hearts is my kind of woman
Cold women with warm hearts is my kind of woman
If you got a woman that's cold
9 times outta 10 she can't be stole
If you got a woman that's hot as fire
You can wave your woman bye-bye
If she's hot she knows she's hot
Then you can't please her with what you got
Cold women with warm hearts is my kind of woman
Cold women with warm hearts is my kind of woman
If you gotta woman that's hard to get
9 times outta 10 the lil' girl'll stick
If you gotta woman that talks to every man that hits
When you get home she might done split
If she listens to them long enough
You can wave bye-bye to your good good stuff
Cold women with warm hearts is my kind of woman
(I say)
Cold women with warm hearts is my kind of woman
If you gotta woman that don't like to laugh and grin
Aw buddy, she'll stay with you until the end
But if you gotta woman that likes to flirt
You can call your family doctor buddy 'cause you bout to get hurt
If you got a woman that can't count her fingers and toes
It's no telling how many men have seen exposed
Cold women with warm hearts is my kind of woman
Cold women with warm hearts is my kind of woman
Written by Mack Rice • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Friday, February 24, 2017

Signing Off.......For Now

Though it pains me to do so, dear readers, your humble correspondent is going to have to shut things down at Friday Blues Fix for the near future.  Due to a lot going on at work and at home, plus a huge backlog of CDs that I really need to review for Blues Bytes, something has to give, and unfortunately, the blog is what will have to give....hopefully, just for a while.

We just celebrated our seventh year of blogging...having started in February of 2010.  It's been a lot of fun to share some of my favorite blues with you over that time.  It's been great to hear from people who read the blog on a regular basis.  I hope I was able to open your eyes and ears to some brand new blues or even some that you might have missed previously.....or introduced you to some old or new blues artists who are worth hearing.

I hope that one day in the near future, I will get caught up with the things that I have to do and I can rejoin the blogging world.  In the meantime, I invite you to check out some of our previous posts (over 350) and see what you might have missed the first time around.

It's been fun, fellow blues lovers.  Hopefully, we can do it again soon.  Thank you for all of your support and encouragement over the past seven years.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mardi Gras Mambo - Looking at a Few Prime Mardi Gras Music Collections

This year, Mardi Gras falls on February 28th, which is still a week and a half away.  However, your friends at Friday Blues Fix want to keep our faithful readers ahead of the game, so we are taking this week's edition to recommend several great sets of Fat Tuesday-related tunes to help put a hop in your step over the remaining few days.  Just scroll down and check out these four fantastic collections of tunes.  You can thank us later.

Probably the most popular collection of Mardi Gras tunes is the Mardi Gras in New Orleans album that was released on Mardi Gras Records (what else?) about 40 years ago.  This set collects a dozen of the most popular Mardi Gras singles at the time.  The owner of the label, Warren Hildebrand, had been around New Orleans music his whole life.  His father owned All South, the city's largest wholesale record distributorship, supplying the New Orleans market with R&B 45's.  All South distributed ALL of the local singles, so Hildebrand had the brilliant idea to compile some of the best Mardi Gras singles onto this album.

For a long time, Mardi Gras in New Orleans was the ONLY collection of Carnival music available.  It's still one of the best with songs from many artists that will be familiar with New Orleans music fans......Professor Longhair's standard tunes, "Go To The Mardi Gras" and parts 1 and 2 of "Big Chief" are here, Earl King's funky "Street Parade" is, too, as are several of the funky R&B workouts from the Wild Magnolias, a Mardi Gras Indian group fronted by Bo Dollis, one of the most underrated R&B singers in the city.  There's also the classic "Carnival Time," by Al Johnson, the Hawketts' "Mardi Gras Mambo," and a two-part version of Stop, Inc's "Second Line."

For years, the album sold pretty well during Mardi Gras season, mainly  because it was only distributed locally for the most part.  In the early 80's, however, as more distributors came on board, it began to sell nationally much better.  I'm actually on my second first one was on cassette......and I can tell you that I pull it out every year about this time and play it several times.  It's that good and that much fun to listen to.

In 1991, Mardi Gras Records released the inevitable sequel to their fan favorite, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Volume II.  This set included eleven tracks, including several from the Meters ("Hey Pocky Away," "Mardi Gras Mambo," and "They All Asked For You").  Meters keyboardist Art Neville was one of the high school students who made up the Hawketts, so he was revisiting "Mardi Gras Mambo."  There were also classic tunes from the Dixie Cups ("Iko Iko") and Sugarboy Crawford ("Jockomo"), a trio of songs from the Olympia Brass Band, and several modern Mardi Gras songs ("If I Ever Cease To Love," by A.J. Loria, and "Dat's Mardi Gras," from Jake the Snake, and "Mardi Gras Medley," from the Mardi Gras Big Shots.

While it is a nice change from Volume I, with the addition of the brass band numbers and the Meters sides, and it is a good, enjoyable album of Carnival songs, it's not as strong a set as the first volume.  There's not a thing wrong with it, but you definitely need Volume I before you get Volume II.  Mardi Gras Records ended up becoming a pretty good label of local talent, with albums from Professor Longhair, Milton Batiste, the Olympia Brass Band, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Johnny Adams, and later ventured into the soul-blues market with albums from Peggy Scott Adams and Sir Charles Jones.  The label now has over 3,000 recordings of all kinds of Louisiana music.  Check out their site here for more information.

In the late 80's/early 90's, Rhino Records began releasing hit collections from many New Orleans groups.  Their wonderful 2-disc Neville Brothers history, Treacherous (later expanded to a third volume), remained the definitive Neville collection for a couple of decades, and they also released an awesome three-volume set of R&B favorites that spanned the 50's and 60's (now, sadly, out of print).

In 1992, Rhino released New Orleans Party Classics, a great 18-song set that includes a few tunes originally on Mardi Gras in New Orleans, plus songs from Dr. John, the Neville Brothers (in their own unit and with Mardi Gras Indian tribe, The Wild Tchoupitoulas), Huey "Piano" Smith, Allen Toussaint (the torrid instrumental "Whirlaway"), Frankie Ford, Fats Domino, and the Dirty Dozen and Rebirth Brass Bands.  This is a fine set to have as well, because it more or less builds on the concepts that the two Mardi Gras Records collections started.  It's really good to have the Neville Brothers play such a prominent role on this one, along with the two brass bands.  This one is fun to listen to all year long.  This one, too, inspired a sequel, which was released in 1999.

Around the same time as Rhino, Rounder Records began issuing new albums from New Orleans singers and bands.  They covered a lot of ground, embracing not only New Orleans R&B (Johnny Adams, Irma Thomas, Chuck Carbo, James Booker), but also blues (Marcia Ball, Walter "Wolfman" Washington), jazz (Alvin "Red" Tyler, Willie Tee, Tuts Washington), brass (Dirty Dozen and Rebirth Brass Bands), Mardi Gras Indians (Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles, Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias), and Cajun/Zydeco (Beausoleil, Zachary Richard, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Buckwheat Zydeco), along with reissues of many classics from the 60's and 70's.

In 1992, the label compiled 18 songs into a collection called Mardi Gras Party.  This set has a little something for every music fan.....R&B, blues, Cajun/Zydeco, and jazz.  This was a really great listen for me because Rounder Records actually was the launching pad for my love of all Louisiana music.  I picked up several of these collections by Rounder in the early 90's and they led me to more music from many of these artists, who I heard for the first time on these collections.

These are only four collections of great music to celebrate the Mardi Gras season......there are many more to choose from.....maybe we'll track a few of those down during a future Mardi Gras celebration.  If I were getting started as a listener, I would pick up Mardi Gras in New Orleans first and work my way down the list, but you really can't go wrong with any of these albums.  Check them out and "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!!!!! "