One of the great sources of good blues, at a very reasonable price, was Evidence Music. Evidence was a Pennsylvania-based label that had a massive catalog of old blues and jazz recordings. The label had bought the rights to several European record labels, such as Black and Blue, which had recorded many of the blues artists who had toured overseas during the 70's, doing various blues festivals. The blues was much more popular overseas during that time period, so if a blues man, other than B.B. King, wanted to make any money back then, they had to do the European festivals.
During those festivals, a promoter named Didier Tricard recorded many of these acts between appearances, usually in single-day sessions, basically live in the studio for his labels Isabel (named after Buddy Guy's mother) and Black and Blue. Tricard actually recorded Buddy Guy and Junior Wells' Pleading the Blues and Guy's Stone Crazy! on the same day!!!!! All of these albums were released overseas and for years, were only heard about by most blues fans until Evidence began reissuing them stateside in the early 90's.
Most of these CDs were sold for about 2/3 of the regular CD price at the time, and Evidence label head Jerry Gordon tacked on alternate takes or extra tracks on many of the recordings, so some of them were a good bit longer than the regular albums of the 70's period. It was a GREAT deal, because the music was fantastic and you often saw artists paired together that you wouldn't see otherwise.
Naturally, when I started buying CDs and was looking for the most bang for my buck on blues releases, I gravitated toward Evidence. I had heard about many of these CDs previously and really wanted to hear it for myself. Today, we will look at five Evidence reissues that no blues fan should be without and, don't worry, we will revisit this topic again soon......
Robert Lockwood, Jr. - Plays Robert & Robert: This may be one of my all-time favorite blues recordings. Robert Lockwood, Jr. has always been one of the most fascinating characters in the blues. For starters, his stepfather was Robert Johnson. Most of the stories I've heard about him, and interviews with him (particularly the Living Blues interview from the late 90's.....classic) demonstrate that he didn't suffer fools lightly. He was definitely his own man as a performer as well. He often played 12-string guitar (as on this set) and he was as much into jazz as he was the blues and didn't compromise for anybody. On this outstanding set from 1982, he plays a mix of Robert Johnson's songs and his own songs, solo on his twelve-string and it's absolutely fabulous. If you only own one Robert Lockwood, Jr. album (and I strongly recommend against doing that), this is the one you must have.
That's all for now, but we will be revisiting the Evidence Music catalog in the near future. There are plenty more great reissued recordings from Black and Blue and other labels that are just as good as these, and can be had for a very nice price.