LAST week, we talked about the phenomenal contribution of 1960s label Chess Records to the blues. With a catalogue that included Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Little Walter, Memphis Slim. Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Otis Rush and even rock ‘n’ roll star Chuck Berry, it came out with a slew of amazing records. This week, we list down nine great records released by Chess.
Muddy Waters/ At Newport 1960: This features the memorable concert by Muddy Waters at the 1960 Newport jazz festival at Newport, Rhode Island. Featured are classic songs like ‘I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man’, ‘I Got My Mojo Workin’ and ‘Goodbye Newport Blues’. John Lee Hooker/ House of the Blues: Before this album was released in 1959, Hooker was already famous for the songs ‘Boogie Chillen’ and ‘Crawling King Snake’. This was his first release on Chess, and features the songs ‘Walkin the Boogie’, ‘Ground Hog Blues’.
Memphis Slim/ Memphis Slim: The American pianist and singer first hit the headlines in 1947 with ‘Everyday I Have the Blues’. This album was released in 1961, and features great tracks like ‘Tijuana’, ‘Blues for my Baby’ and ‘I Guess I’m a Fool’. Big Bill Broonzy and Washboard Sam: The album looks like blues singer and guitarist Broonzy, performed together. But they recorded separately. Broonzy renders ‘Jacqueline’, ‘Lonesome’ and ‘Romance Without Finance’, and Washboard Sam sings ‘Never Never’ and ‘I’m A Lonely Man’.
Howlin’ Wolf/ Howlin’ Wolf: Chester Arthur Burnett, aka Howlin’ Wolf, was one of the most stunning blues singers, guitarists and harmonica players ever. This 1962 LP contained all his greatest hits, including ‘Wang Dang Doodle’, ‘Backdoor Man’, ‘Spoonful’ and ‘Goin’ Down Slow’. Johnny Guitar Watson/ The Blues Soul of Johnny Guitar Watson: Watson was a popular blues, soul and funk singer and guitarist, who played in the style of T-Bone Walker. This 1964 release contains some of his rarer songs, like ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams’, ‘Misty’ and ‘Witchcraft’. The Real Folk Blues/ Sonny Boy Williamson II: Part of the ‘Real Folk Blues’ series that had records of Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim and John Lee Hooker. Williamson, singer and harmonica legend, renders ‘Peach Tree’,‘Bringin It On Home’ and ‘Too Old To Think’.
Buddy Guy/ I Left My Blues in San Francisco: This 1967 album marked the debut LP of guitarist-singer Buddy Guy, who till then had released EPs for Cobra Records and played back-up on many Chess albums. ‘Buddy’s Groove’ and ‘Crazy Love’ are the stand-out tracks. Etta James/ At Last!: Though originally released by Argo Records in 1960, it was re-released by Chess a couple of years later. It was noted for its varied choice, from jazz standards to blues numbers to doo-wop to rhythm ‘n’ blues.
Leonard Cohen knew his music and the blues world is richer for it