Friday, August 26, 2011

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue #4

One of FBF's oldest themes is back!  Let's check out a few tunes via YouTube.

Hound Dog Taylor
For Something Old this week, we'll go back to the early 70's with the legendary Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers.  If you're a fan of Alligator Records, you owe a big debt of gratitude to the Dog.  Bruce Iglauer started the label with the intention of recording Taylor.  At the time, Iglauer worked for Delmark and had no luck getting the label to record his favorite act, so with a small inheritance, he started his own label to do just that.  Iglauer ended up releasing four more albums of Taylor's music, each one perfectly capturing that raw, ragged sound that captivated Iglauer and so many others in the first place.

The hand of the Hound
Taylor was born in Natchez, MS, but moved to Chicago in his early 20's, becoming a full time musician in the late 50's.  He was known for his wild shows at local bars and on Maxwell Street, his cheap Japanese guitars and for having six fingers on his left hand.  His band consisted of drummer Ted Harvey, and bass player Brewer Phillips and they were also the basis for Alligator's motto - "Genuine Houserockin' Music."  The first track I ever heard of Taylor's was the opening tune on his debut Alligator recording, "She's Gone."  From that point, I was hooked.  Some Taylor recordings that have become classics are the immortal "Give Me Back My Wig," "Wild About You, Baby," "Walking The Ceiling," and this manic instrumental track, "Taylor Rock."  If you want to hear more from Hound Dog Taylor, a great place to start is Alligator's compilation, Deluxe Edition, but by no means should you stop there.  That fine collection merely scratches the surface.

Something New comes from one of the surprises of the summer, Ruf Records' Girls With Guitars disc, featuring three amazing young female guitarists.....lead guitarists Samantha Fish and Dani Wilde and bassist Cassie Taylor, all three in their early 20's.  Fish has been wowing blues fans in Kansas City for a couple of years, Wilde has two well-received CDs to her credit, and Taylor has appeared on several of her father Otis' recordings as well as one of the late Gary Moore's releases as a vocalist. 

The trio made up this year's edition of Ruf's Blues Caravan tour and released this impressive album earlier this summer.  Fish also released a marvelous CD on Ruf just a few weeks ago, Runaway.  Keep an eye on these ladies.....I imagine you will be hearing much more from them over the next few years.

Boz Scaggs
For Something Borrowed, we could almost call this tune Something Stolen.  In 1968, on Boz Scaggs' self-titled second recording for Atlantic Records, one of the highlights was a marathon version of "Somebody Loan Me A Dime," featuring some simply incredible guitar work from Duane Allman.  For some reason (not his doing), the label listed Scaggs as composer of the song, when credit should have gone to the actual composer, Fenton Robinson.  Robinson eventually sued (successfully) for composer credit, and later on, he re-cut his own masterful version of the song for Alligator Records a few years later, but the version by Scaggs and Allman really eclipses all comers.  Listen for yourself.

Even though Scaggs has proven to be something of a musical chameleon over his lengthy career, as a teenager he got his start as vocalist for in a blues band formed by his high school classmate and fellow Texan, Steve Miller.  The pair played in several blues bands in college before Scaggs moved overseas to England to join the R&B scene there.  He eventually reunited with Miller, appearing on Miller's first two recordings, then embarked on a solo career, seeing his biggest success from the mid 70's to the early 80's with pop hits like "Lowdown," "Lido Shuffle," "We're All Alone," "Miss Sun," "What Can I Say," and "Look What You've Done To Me."  In the 80's, he backed off the music scene, operating a blues club in San Francisco, Slim's, and recording sporadically.  In the late 90's, he returned to his blues roots, recording Come On Home, a mix of some classic blues and R&B tunes, mixed with a few originals.

Jack Owens (guitar) and Bud Spires (harmonica) with friend
You might have previously seen the duo selected for Something Blue.  If you glance to the right of the wonderful Bill Steber picture that heads up this site, you will notice Jack Owens and Bud Spires, from Bentonia, MS.  Owens was a contemporary of Skip James, and both played in the Bentonia style.  Owens, however, never really intended on making a career as a musician, being content to play on his front porch (often with Spires playing harmonica), farm, and sell bootleg liquor.  He did make a couple of recordings, played many festivals, and entertained a lot of passer-bys from his front porch before passing away in early 1997 at the age of 92.  Bud Spires, whose father was Arthur "Big Boy" Spires (who recorded for Chess in the early 50's), played with Owens for many years and later accompanied Holmes on his first Broke & Hungry release. 

Now, I'm not a music scholar by any means, but for me, the Bentonia style is highlighted by an ominous and eerie guitar tone, which is accentuated by the falsetto vocal stylings of both James and Owens (current Bentonia resident Jimmy "Duck" Holmes' vocals are different, but the guitar work is very similar).  In the past, the only people who played in the Bentonia style were native to the area, which adds to it's uniqueness.  I can promise that you've never heard anything quite like it and while it's more than likely not to everyone's taste (James' 1931 recordings sold poorly upon release), the Bentonia style of blues has been a major influence on the blues over the years, from Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Albert Collins (who all used the Bentonia tuning at one time or another on one song or another) to Eric Clapton (who recorded the Skip James tune, "I'm So Glad," while with Cream, ensuring the ailing guitarist a little income from royalties).

By the way, this video is part of a fascinating series on YouTube collecting various artists filmed by folklorist Alan Lomax over the years.  If you're interested, there are some additional, equally cool clips under AlanLomaxArchive.  Check them out.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Blues For You - From Blues/Rock to Soul/Blues

A few new releases for you to consider picking up this weekend......if you haven't already.

Tedeschi Trucks Band - Revelator (Sony Masterworks):  By now you've heard tons and tons of rave reviews about this release.  Well, I'm not going to venture too far away from the consensus.  I had strayed a bit from the blues/rock genre several years ago, mainly because a lot (not all) of the bands sounded too much alike and a lot of them really didn't have that much to say.  Sure, the music was good and the performances were always great, but like Chinese food, it didn't stick to your ribs very long.  I had heard about Derek Trucks from some friends of mine who were Allman Brothers fanatics, and had actually heard him perform on Junior Wells' epic slide guitarists album from the late 90's, but I never bought in until I heard Already Free.  With Susan Tedeschi, I think it was all the hype surrounding her debut....EVERYBODY loved her.  I deliberately avoided her (yeah, I'm sort of goofy that way) until one of my friends send me a couple of her songs via email, one of which was "It Hurt So Bad."  Wow!  Then I got to see Trucks and Tedeschi together on the second Crossroads Guitar Festival DVD, playing Clapton's "Anyday."  Let's just say I was curious when I heard they were going to form a band together. 

I have to say that Revelator was not what I expected.  It's even better than I imagined.  To be honest, I don't really know what I was expecting, but this one surprised me and overwhelmed me at the same time.  The songs are excellent, and they blend everything from blues, soul, funk, rock, and gospel together.  Supposedly, they wrote over 30 songs for this album, and if the unreleased songs are this good, we need to hear them, and soon.  "Midnight In Harlem" should be a hit in a perfect world, with Tedeschi's soulful croon and Trucks' wonderful slide guitar, but then you could say that for several of these tunes, including the upbeat opening track, "Come See About Me," the funky "Bound For Glory," and "Simple Things."  The band, combining members of Trucks' and Tedeschi's groups, plus a terrific horn section, is perfect.  Yeah, I guess you could say I liked this one a lot.  Both leaders are really in the zone for this one, and it feels like the maximum time and effort was put into making this a great album.  It sets the bar pretty high for future blues/rock and roots recordings...both for them and for others.

Grady Champion - Dreamin' (GSM Music Group): Last year, Grady Champion and his band won the IBC. Those who have seen him live wonder why it didn't happen sooner. The Canton, MS native has impressed blues audiences since the late 90's with his singing, harp blowing, and showmanship, and returned a couple of years ago after a brief absence with an excellent live disc recorded with Eddie Cotton Jr. on guitar.  Dreamin' is his fifth release and his best yet, with Champion getting a hand from fellow Mississippian Zac Harmon, who produced the disc, played guitar and drums, co-wrote several songs, and also contributed vocals (on "Walk With Me, Baby," the swampy sequel to "Baby, Scratch My Back").

Though the new disc is slicker than his previous releases, with more of a contemporary feel in the mix, the blues is still front and center and Champion gives a stellar performance, with blues numbers like "My Rooster Is King," "Same Train," "Guilty As Charged," and the gospel-flavored "Thank You For Giving Me The Blues." The smooth ballad "Weight of the World" has already made some noise on a couple of the Blues charts, and deservedly so. Champion doesn't neglect the soul side of the blues either, with the up-tempo title track that should start a party every time it's played, "Laugh, Smile, Cry" sounds like a long-lost Ray Charles tune from the Atlantic Records days, and "Cross That Bridge" was co-written by another Canton resident, A. D. Prestage, who wrote "Shade Tree Mechanic" for Z. Z. Hill way back when. If there is any justice in the world, Dreamin' should be the disc that puts Grady Champion over the top.

Elam McKnight & Bob Bogdal - Zombie Nation (Desert Highway Records):  I've been listening to Elam McKnight for nearly ten years.  He moves effortlessly from the Mississippi Hill Country sound to blues/rock to acoustic Delta blues and has made solid improvements with each of his previous releases (check out Supa Good).  Bob Bogdal's previous release was a dramatic expansion of the Hill Country sound (Underneath the Kudzu).  The pair has teamed up for an impressive new release of all original tunes that mix acoustic and electric blues with rock and soul. 

McKnight's guitar work is impressive, plugged or unplugged, and Bogdal shines on harmonica.  This duo appears to be a match made in blues heaven, so hopefully they will team up again, but don't let this one pass you by.  Check out the dazzling opening track from the new release, "Pojo's Place."

Johnny Rawls - Memphis Still Got Soul (Catfood Records):  I first heard Johnny Rawls as part of the soul/blues duo Rawls & Luckett on their superlative release for Rooster Blues in the early 90's, Can't Sleep At Night, one of the best soul/blues releases of the entire decade.  Rawls & Luckett soon went their separate ways, but Rawls has continued as a successful solo artist, recording several discs in the late 90's for JSP, and eventually branching out to other labels.  His previous release, Ace of Spades, won the 2010 Blues Music Award for Soul/Blues Album of the Year.  Memphis Still Got Soul is a worthy follow-up.

Rawls has that uncanny knack of making old school soul sound like something brand new.  He mixes blues numbers ("Burning Bridges," "My Guitar," "Blues Woman") with vintage soul ("Give What You Need," "Stop The Rain," "Love Stuff"), and even pays tribute to his mentor, O. V. Wright with a cover of "Blind, Crippled, and Crazy."  Rawls doesn't sound so much like Wright, but his phrasing and vocal asides are reminiscent of the late soul man.  This is as good a set of soul/blues as you will hear this year.

Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne - An Old Rock on a Roll (Stony Plain):  Now here's something we don't get to hear nearly enough of these days....a new blues piano album.  Wayne got his start in the 60's, playing with Billy Preston, Delaney & Bonnie, and the Doobie Brothers.  Over time, he has developed a reputation as a solid blues and boogie woogie piano man, influenced by Bill Doggett, Fats Domino, Amos Milburn, and Johnnie Johnson.  An Old Rock on a Roll is his first release in several years and his debut for Stony Plain.  Lending a hand is Stony Plain stalwart Duke Robillard, who produced the disc and plays some splendid guitar.

Most of the tunes are up-tempo, including the rousing opener, "Searching For My Baby," "Fantasy Meets Reality," "Rocking Boogie Party," and "Way Overdue."  "Heaven Send Me an Angel" is a easy mid-tempo track, and there are several straight blues tracks as well ("Don't Pretend" and "Bring Back the Love").  On the uplifting instrumental that closes the disc, "Give Thanks," Wayne plays organ with one hand and piano with the other.  If blues piano is your bag, you need to add this disc to your collection, pronto.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blues Bag

....a mixed bag of blues-related items to ponder this week.....

One of the coolest things I've gotten to do as a blues fan was to attend the Handy Awards (now called the Blues Music Awards) in 1999.  I had always wanted to go, just for the chance to see all those great musicians in one location.  I had joined the Blues Foundation a couple of years earlier and had voted for the first time that year.  The Foundation put out a little magazine about four to six times a year and one of them had a place to order tickets, so I ordered some for me, my brother, and one of his friends.

As is usually the case for most events I attend, my timing was impeccible.  You see, 1999 was the year that a big European tour coincided with the Handys, so many of the nominees and participants opted for the money to be made from an overseas tour and decided to pick up their trophies and plaques on the return trip home.  No problem there......I'm all for folks bettering themselves, and there were some pretty good artists who decided to attend that I did get to see. 

I saw Sam Carr, who was happy to be there, speaking to everybody he came into contact with, and Pete Mayes, who I did get to speak to, but only because he walked right past me.  I saw Johnny Jones, who if I remember correctly, was wearing a purple suit and a bright red hat.  I saw Bruce Iglauer, Lil' Ed Williams, and several others.  It was a pretty heady time for a blues nut like me.

When the show started (at the Orpheum in Memphis), it was announced that scheduled co-host Ruth Brown was not going to be able to attend, so Joe Louis Walker stood in for her as co-host with Memphis music legend Rufus Thomas.  One thing that really stood out to me (and to others, more on that later) was the humongous monitor on one side of the stage that showed the performers up close and personal.

There were some outstanding performances that night.  Johnnie Bassett performed a couple of tunes from his Cannonball recordings.  Bassett was nominated for a bunch of awards that year, including Song of the Year, and Male Traditional Blues Artist of the Year, but didn't win any of them.  His songs were a lot of fun though, including his popular tune at the time, "Cadillac Blues."  Johnnie Bassett is one artist that I would definitely like to hear more of in the future.

Another highlight was Bernard Allison, who appeared with Deborah Coleman and they blew the doors off of Bernard's Dad's tune, "Bad Love."  The pair nearly brought the house down, due, of course, to their performances and the fans' memory of Luther Allison, who had passed away nearly two years before.

There were some other fantastic performances, too, including the Band of the Year for 1999, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Roomful of Blues, Kenny Wayne Shepherd (whose lead singer never took his eyes off of his image on the huge monitor) playing with Double Trouble, Joe Louis Walker with former Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore (playing "Mystery Train"), and an all-star band including Pinetop Perkins, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bob Margolin, Willie Kent, and Mojo Buford.

But the highlight, for me, was getting to see Robert Lockwood Jr. perform.  Lockwood was nominated for several awards that year.  He had released a wonderful album the year before, I Got To Find Me A Woman that had been one of my favorite recordings of the year before.  I had really gotten into Lockwood's music after hearing that release, going back and finding other releases, all of which were uniformly good.  When he came out on the stage, a hush fell over the crowd, and I got goosebumps on top of my goosebumps.

He launched right into his version of Roosevelt Sykes' "Fell Like Blowin' My Horn," which was my favorite song on the new CD.  Have you ever had a tune rolling around in your head for days at a time and you can't get it out no matter what you do?  That's what was happening with me at the time with that song.  I had listened to his CD on the way to Memphis and I remember thinking it would be so cool if he played that song.  When he won two awards that night, it made things even better.

All in all, it was a great experience.  Although not many of the nominees I voted for won anything (and many of the winners weren't even there to accept their awards), it was a good time and some great music.  I haven't been back since then, but I would recommend at least one trip for any blues fan.

One of my all-time favorite singers is New Orleans R&B vocalist Johnny Adams.  Johnny Adams was a singer of astonishing depth, range, and versatility. He was a blues singer, a jazz singer, an R&B singer, a gospel singer, a country name it, he could sing it better than anybody else. He could move from the highest highs (his falsetto would bring you to your knees) to the lowest lows.

The first time I ever heard him, I was blown away.  I had never heard anyone who could sing with so much range so effortlessly.  Adams carved out a modest career on the soul circuit in the 60's with songs like "Reconsider Me," "I Won't Cry," "Losing Battle," and Release Me."  I first heard him on his first two recordings for Rounder Records.  What stood out on those releases was his ability to rise above what was occasionally pedestrian material, but the good stuff was very good, such as an absolutely scorching version of Ann Peebles' "Feel Like Breakin' Up Somebody's Home," and a beautiful track from New Orleans' R&B sax man, Alvin "Red" Tyler's jazz release for Rounder, Heritage, from the Tony Bennett catalog, "I Only Miss Her When I Think of Her."

As time passed, Adams began making "theme" albums for Rounder.  There was a straight blues releases (Room with a View of the Blues), a pair of releases focusing on jazz standards (Good Morning Heartache, The Verdict), then a mix of blues and jazz (One Foot in the Blues, with Dr. Lonnie Smith on Hammond B-3), plus a couple of tributes to songwriters Percy Mayfield (Walking on a Tightrope) and Doc Pomus (The Real Me).  These sets of recordings are amazing in their versatility and their depth.  It's impossible to not tap your foot to the funky "Body & Fender Man," a Doc Pomus-penned track with Dr. John on piano and Duke Robillard and longtime Adams associate Walter "Wolfman" Washington on guitars.  Pomus was one of Adams' favorite composers, the song "There is Always One More Time," was featured on the opening credits of the Steve Martin/Eddie Murphy movie, Bowfinger.

During the 90's, Adams began a long and painful battle with prostate cancer. While in remission, he worked on his final recording, Man of My Word, a largely R&B-based effort that was probably his best recording for Rounder.  An impressive list of songwriters contributed songs to the disc and Washington returned to play guitar (along with Memphis guitarist Michael Toles).  Adams was still suffering the effects of the cancer, but put together his best performances on this release.  Two of the standout tracks on this impressive recording were the David Egan/Buddy Flett composition, "Even Now," one of Adams' best performances ever, and an a cappella gospel track, "Never Alone," that featured another New Orleans legend, Aaron Neville.

Unfortunately, Adam's cancer returned later in the year, and he passed away in September, 1998, not long after Man of My Word was released.  Music fans in the know consider Johnny Adams to be one of the finest vocalists of all time.  Though he could have made it in any genre he wanted, Adams returned most often to the blues, and we're glad he did.

While you're out rambling, stop by and check out the latest issue of Blues Bytes.  It's a July/August issue with loads of reviews of new CDs from artists like Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band (a tribute to Charley Patton), Samantha Fish, L. C. Ulmer, Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans, and a look at the latest edition of Chicago Blues: A Living History.  That's just the tip of the iceberg, so stop by and see what you might be missing.

Before we go, how about a little bit more Robert Lockwood, Jr., with a little help from Charlie Musselwhite.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blues Legends - Jimmy Rogers

Muddy Waters' band, circa 1954.  Waters is at far left, Jimmy Rogers at far right
In many ways, Muddy Waters' bands were similar to Miles Davis' groups in was often a starting-off point for many blues stars of the future.  A partial list of musicians who got their start with Waters, then moved on to their own successful solo careers includes harmonica players Little Walter Jacobs, Junior Wells, James Cotton, Mojo Buford, and Paul Oscher, guitarists Luther Tucker, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, John Primer, John Primer, Sammy Lawhorn, Buddy Guy, and Bob Margolin, piano players Otis Spann and Pinetop Perkins, and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith.....a pretty impressive list. 

One of the best of them all was Ruleville, Mississippi's Jimmy Rogers, who served as second guitarist in Waters' first band for most of the early 1950's.  He got his start playing harmonica with a group of players that included Snooky Pryor, but soon learned to play guitar.  He played in Mississippi, Memphis, St. Louis, and Chicago, but settled in Chicago in the early 40's, learning at the feet of the established stars of the time (Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, Big Maceo Merriweather, Memphis Minnie) and also playing on Maxwell Street.

In the late 40's, Rogers was playing harmonica with guitarist Blue Smitty, who then welcomed Waters into the group.  When Smitty left, Waters brought in Little Walter and Rogers moved to second guitar.  That band was dubbed "the Headhunters" for their habit of dropping by other musicians' gigs and "cutting their heads" by outperforming them on their own stage or even stealing their gigs outright.  During this time, Chess decided to record Rogers as a solo act and some of his recordings  are considered blues standards today, such as "Walking By Myself," "Ludella," "Chicago Bound," "Sloppy Drunk," "That's All Right," and "You're The One."  He also was an indispensible session musician for Chess, backing Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson on several recordings.

"Walking By Myself" was inspired by a song ("Why Not") T-Bone Walker recorded during a Chicago session where Rogers backed him on second guitar.  It ended up being the only song of Rogers' that charted on Billboard's R&B charts, because in the late 50's, blues was being supplanted by R&B and Rock & Roll, not only on the charts, but also at Chess.  Though Rogers' material was as strong as when he started, his singles output decreased to nearly nothing.  After a short gig playing guitar in Howlin' Wolf's band, Rogers basically retired from the business in the early 60's, driving a cab and later running a clothing store on the West Side.

In the immediate aftermath of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, Rogers' store was burned to the ground during the riots that followed.  He gradually returned to performing around the Windy City, joining a European tour in the early 70's and eventually returning to the studio (first for Leon Russell's Shelter label, backed by the Aces and Freddy King, then with Black & Blue, and a later 70's session with Muddy Waters) and performing semi-regularly.  By the early 80's, he was back to being a full-time musician. 

Throughout the 80's, Rogers performed regularly, but recorded infrequently.  What he did release was very good, including a live session with Ronnie Earl in the early 90's and a set backed by Rod Piazza.  The standout recordings were a part-live/part-studio recording on Antones with all-star backing (Ludella) and a fantastic session for APO, called Blue Bird, that he recorded with his son, Jimmy D. Lane on second guitar and Chicago harp wizard, Carey Bell.  Below is a song from a mid 80's appearance in Antones' ("You're Sweet," with Kim Wilson on harp), a mellow track recorded in the late 70's with Left Hand Frank Craig, "Fishing In My Pond," and a track from Blue Bird, "I'm Tired of Crying Over You."

Rogers' final album, Blues Blues Blues, was a star-studded affair with many, and I do mean MANY rock musicians who recognized him as an influence.  Ordinarily, I look at these types of recordings, blues artists teaming up with various and sundry rock and rollers, with a sketical eye....mainly because the rockers tend to overwhelm the bluesmen in most cases (see Carlos Santana) and it usually ends up being, say, a Santana song instead of a John Lee Hooker song.  Your mileage may vary...that's just how I see it.  The guest list for Blues Blues Blues included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Stephen Stills, Jeff Healey, Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, Carey Bell, and Johnnie Johnson.  Naturally, Rogers was overwhelmed in some cases, but for the most part, it actually part maybe because Rogers had often served in a secondary role behind larger-than-life figures like Muddy and the Wolf, so it was a role he fit into comfortably.  One of the better songs on the disc was the track featuring Rogers and Healey, "Blow Wind Blow." 

By the time Blues Blues Blues was being recorded, Rogers was already ill with colon cancer.  Shortly after completing the recording and following a successful tour, Rogers was hospitalized and underwent surgery.  He developed complications and died on December 19, 1997 at age 73.  His death occurred during that terrible six-month period in 1997 and 1998, when Luther Allison, Johnny Copeland, Junior Wells, Fenton Robinson, and Junior Kimbrough all passed away.

Today, Jimmy Rogers is rightfully acknowledged for his role in the formation of the classic postwar Chicago Blues sound.  His role in Waters' band cannot be overstated.  His rapport with Waters was second to none.  He played a major part in bringing Otis Spann into the group, and he helped Waters keep good harmonica players in the band after Little Walter departed for a solo career.  His recordings for Chess in the 50's were widely influential and when he returned in the 70's, he had barely lost a step and remained a vital part of Chicago's blues scene until the end. 

Selected Discography

His Best (MCA/Chess) - This set is for casual fans who just want to hear the highlights of Rogers' recordings with Chess.  It includes 22 songs, the cream of the crop, with backing musicians like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Little Walter, and Otis Spann, among others.  Rogers moves effortlessly from the pure blues of the early 50's to the more rock & roll-influenced sounds of the latter part of the decade.  If you're an average blues fan, this is the disc for you, but if it's not enough, then you need to check out.......

The Complete Chess Recordings (MCA/Chess) - 51 tracks, covering Rogers' entire recorded legacy at Chess.  It may be more than the average fan would want, but trust me.....if you do pick it up, you won't be sorry because EVERYTHING Rogers recorded for Chess was of the highest quality.  There's not a bad song in the bunch.

Sloppy Drunk (Evidence) - This session, recorded for the French
label, Black & Blue in the early 70's, was a laid-back set teaming the rejuvenated Rogers with Louis and David Myers, Fred Below, and Willie Mabon.  Rogers sounds wonderful here.  This is one of my favorite Rogers recordings.

Ludella (Antones) - This set is a part live, part studio recording that teams Rogers with many of the Austin music scene's top talents (Kim Wilson, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, and Ted Harvey.  It's hard to go wrong with any of Rogers' post 70's recordings.....the Blind Pig session with Piazza is great and so is the live set with Ronnie Earl on Bullseye Blues, but to me, the Antones set is slightly better.

Blue Bird (APO) - This is the best recording that Rogers did after his comeback, bar none.  It features Rogers with his son, Jimmy D. Lane, Johnnie Johnson, Carey Bell, Dave Myers, and Ted Harvey.  The sound is fantastic, as might be expected on an APO recording.  The set list is a mix of old Rogers favorites with a few Chicago favorites.  Seek this one out at all costs.

Blues Blues Blues (Atlantic) - Rogers' swan song, his shot at the "big time," his star-studded tribute disc, has some nice moments, but there are just too many distractions.  I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when I purchased it, but I can count on one hand the number of guest star-heavy blues recordings I do like.  This one is slightly above the middle of the pack.