Various Artists – 60 Years Of Delmark Blues | Album Review

delmark60yearscd Various Artists – 60 Years Of Blues

 Delmark 2013

 16 tracks; 75 minutes 

 Delmark Records has been a mainstay on the Chicago scene for both blues and jazz since the 50’s and any self-respecting blues fan who visits Chicago must head for The Jazz Record Mart which Delmark founder Bob Koester founded. This CD celebrates 60 years of Delmark and the biggest problem must have been how to make one disc representative of all the styles of blues on the label and how to make it an attractive item for blues fans who will already have much of the key music on Delmark in their collections. The outcome is a really interesting mix of blues which certainly makes for a great listen.

First we should look at the bedrock of early Delmark releases, traditional blues. Here the compilers (Bob Koester and Steve Wagner) have been clever in finding some unissued material from the likes of Big Joe Williams, Detroit Junior and Little Walter. Walter is in the company of Muddy Waters and Baby Face Leroy on an outtake of “Just Keep Lovin’ Her” from the famous 1950 sessions that spawned “The Blues World Of Little Walter”, a signpost for how blues would morph from the acoustic field songs to the world of electric blues. The Big Joe track comes from a 1960 private tape and finds him solo on a version of the traditional “44 Blues”. Detroit Junior’s version of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key To The Highway” is an unreleased track from the sessions for “Blues On The Internet” in 2004. Another stalwart of the label was Junior Wells and here the compilers have found an unreleased version of “Rock Me Baby” from the sessions for “Southside Blues Jam” in 1969 with Fred Belew on drums, Louis Myers on guitar and Otis Spann on piano. Sleepy John Estes is captured live in Japan in 1974, accompanied very effectively on jug and harp by Hammie Nixon doing a song called “Stop That Thing”, taken from an album to be released in 2014.

Forthcoming albums is a neat way to attract the interest of fans anxious to get a sneak preview of their favourites’ next project. As well as the Estes track there is a track from a newly discovered Magic Sam concert at the Avant Garde from which we get “I Don’t Want No Woman” on which Sam’s guitar is beautifully recorded though the vocals a little less so. Former guitarist for Mississippi Heat, Giles Corey will be releasing “Giles Corey’s Stoned Soul” in 2014 and on the basis of “Oh, Mademoiselle” it will be a rocking affair with lots of wah-wah and clavinet.

Recent Delmark releases also figure. Arguably the strongest cut on Studebaker John’s Maxwell Street Kings’ Kingsville Jukin’ was “When They Played The Real Blues” and that is the opening track here. “Lurrie Bell’s Blues In My Soul was an outstanding release in 2013 and the inclusion of “She’s A Good ‘Un” is welcome, as is a track from Linsey Alexander’s last CD Been There, Done That. Bringing things right up to date sonically the title track from Toronzo Cannon’s John The Conquer Root closes the CD with Toronzo tearing it up in great Hendrix style. Interesting to note that Roosevelt ‘Mad Hatter’ Purifoy plays keys on all three of those releases, as he also does on a slightly older album, Quintus McCormick’s debut release Hey Jodie from which we get the excellent, horn-driven “50/50”. Other top Delmark acts are featured: Taildragger brings us his Howling Wolf voice and entertaining lyrics in “Tend To Your Business” from a live 2005 DVD; Eddie C Campbell’s comic “Big World” comes from Tear This World Up in 2009 and Mississippi Heat’s outstanding Let’s Live It Up album from the same year is represented by the title track; Sharon Lewis & Texas Fire’s “Blues Train” comes from The Real Deal in 2011.

So, the answer to how to square the circle on the track selection lies in this judicious selection of material. Every track here is a winner and there is definitely something for every blues fan to enjoy and discover in this one. Recommended.

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