Chicago Slickers Volume 2 1948-1955 may have single-handedly jump started, or violently unearthed a monster obsession I’ve had little-to-no experience with. That obsession being, the heart-wrenching, rhythm-driving atmosphere of good blues music. I could list the artists on this comp reissue, but I’ve never heard of any of them before… and that’s a fault I’m willing to own. Originally released back in 1980, this fairly recent reissue (2017) can be had for cheap (under $13, or under $10 in this case), and should be explored by any lover of classic rock rhythms. Enjoy with caution, enjoy often. All sales final.
Chicago Slickers jumped into my arms faster than a wet dog desperate for warmth and unhinged affection. (Not sure exactly why we had to go down that road, but here we are.) Patiently waiting in the “need to listen to pile,” Chicago Slickers is a monstrous collection of Chicago blues dating back between the years 1948 and 1953. Though this copy is a 2017 reissue, the original was released in 1976 on Nighthawk Records, a Missouri-based indie label owned by parent Omnivore Recordings. I cheated and previewed a handful of tracks on allmusic.com, and I’m ecstatic with the results. This comp is going to be on heavy rotation for the foreseeable future.
I’m a little reluctant to write about Don Preston and his 1968 debut, Bluse as I feel the story is deserving of more time than I currently have (or am willing) to give to it, save to say, it wasn’t anything that I thought it was, in the best way possible. Purchased as a joke, whose backstory will be saved for another time, I foolishly discovered that Mr. Preston is (still alive) a stellar guitarist, and has played with some of the very best: Rick Nelson, George Harrison, JJ Cale, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ringo Starr, The Righteous Brothers, and Ritchie Valens, to name a short few. Bluse is classic blues-rock (bluse-rock?), and is as anything spectacular as you would think, having read the list of unquestionable legends above.
Bend your mind one side at a time with 1977’s Guitar Boogie. Fix yourself a heaping plate of last night’s grub, pour out a pint of your favorite brew, dim the lights and drop the needle, because it’s damn near boogie time. Have you heard of these young, up-and-comers? Eric Clapton? Jeff Beck? Jimmy Page? Nah, me neither, but this comp of classic blues-infused slut-rock is essential Monday night listening material, or, at least it is around our household. Sometimes, Mondays need that extra boogie…
Quite possibly the most favored album in my collection, Atco Records’ 1967 released, 1963-64 recorded genius of pop music’s most overlooked son, James Timothy Hardin, This is Tim Hardin redefines perfection with each and every longing, soul-squirming spin. I can’t even begin to explore the majestic landscape that this harrowing album presents, and I’m not g’wan try. At a later date, with a much more educated mind, I’ll tackle the dynamic and vigorous layers of brilliance that this album exerts, but until then, I’ll drink my rye, and simply… enjoy.
Not only is Bobcats Blues by Bob Crosby a riot of a blues album, its cover art is the best I’ve seen nearly all year! Released on Coral Records in 1956 (according to allmusic.com, although I believe this to be false), Bob Crosby and his merry band of saucer-lickers combine brass-happy jazz with the upswing ruckus of big band blues. Better known for their Dixieland ways, the Bobcats remain ambiguously cool while reminiscing the big band sounds of yesteryear (think the Dorsey Brothers, Les Brown or Glenn Miller on three pots of coffee).
This cat-astrophicly cool cover will remain, proudly I might add, on display in the PG office for the foreseeable future. With its combination of great, upbeat background jazz-infused blues, together with its amazing “cats on parade” cover, I strongly suggest you run out and adopt this album as soon as humanly possibly. Although Bob’s older brother Bing stole much of the family’s spotlight, mom and pop Crosby can’t help but view Bobcats Blues as the family’s crowning achievement.
Yesterday was a good day in terms of record pecking. I was able to find the following four albums (two firsts and two comps) for relatively cheap (it’s not only about the find… it’s also about the deal, as you all well know).
First up is The Rolling Stones’ self-titled debut, The Rolling Stones. Now, there were two copies of this album over at Record Surplus, and both sleeves were in pretty good shape. The copy I left behind was priced at $35, but the version I brought home was only $5. Record Surplus is thoughtful enough to provide listening stations (available, albeit restrictive, in five minute intervals). The record looked a bit choppy, but after a test spin, it proved to be only visually perverted. Score one for The Groove!
Second is Tim Hardin’s first album, Tim Hardin 1. I’m absolutely loony over Tim Hardin’s brand of white boy blues (after discovering his 1967 released, 1963-1964 recorded album, This is Tim Hardin). If you don’t know Tim Hardin, you don’t know anguish. It’s as simple as that.
Third and fourth are two of the three part series of early 80s UK punk comps titled, Punk and Disorderly. I’d first heard of these comps via NOFX lyrics in the song, Punk Guy that go “He should’ve been on the cover of Punk and Disorderly.” With 16 tracks apiece, I eagerly look forward to angry meditations in UK punk.
So, there you have it. British Invasion, White Boy Blues, and early UK Punk. Not bad for a stroll down to the corner shop.
I’d mistakenly written-off ZZ Top by the time I saw them at Alpine Valley in 2003. It took less than a minute into their first song for me to realize how strikingly wrong I had been about this Texas Blues-Rock band.
I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t already know about these guys. Yes, they formed in 1969. Yes, they’ve been around for over 40 years, yes they are still touring and yes, the three members have ALWAYS been Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard (listed on the back of this album as Rube Beard). What I will impart on you is the desperate suggestion of not doing what I did. Don’t write-off this band without giving them a proper listen. This is 1973, and this is American Blues-Rock at its finest.
Tres Hombres (translates to “Three Men,” courtesy of The Prudent Groove) is ZZ Top’s first Top Ten record, and the band’s third release overall. Although ZZ Top’s First Album (1971) and Rio Grande Mud (1972) offered a glimpse of the unquestionable talents of these “Three Men,” it wasn’t until Tres Hombres and its soul-crushing hit, La Grange, that the music world saw just how incredible this Texas band was.
La Grange is a nonstop, blood-boiling staple of Blues inspired Rock ‘n’ Roll. It’s chock-full of hard-rocking fire with a groove so catchy, you’ll swear you’re hearing it blasting from a dead-silent room. If you ask me, ZZ Top never reached the creative watermark set by La Grange, but looking back at their extensive catalog throughout their 44-year existence, they’ve come pretty damn close a number of times.
Do yourself a favor and pay attention to those rumors spreading around about that brothel outside La Grange, Texas. Word has it they have a lot of nice girls-ah! Oh, and don’t forget a ten-spot for the door.