Blues Nots from All Over: Chicago Blues: A Living History

Blues Nots from All Over: Chicago Blues: A Living History
August 17, 2009

Blues musicians often can’t decide whether they want to celebrate the past or charge into the future. Sometimes they try to do both at the same time—and end up failing at both.

Yet a new double CD, Chicago Blues: A Living History shows how it is supposed to be done. The 21 songs featured here are proven classics, and the comprehensive and smartly-done liner notes will tell you why they are so important. But the versions on the CD are new ones, performed by a top notch cast. The personnel changes from track to track, but includes Billy Boy Arnold (whose recent Billy Boy Sings Sonny Boy made my list of the best blues CDs of 2008), John Primer, Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell.

This is deep blues indeed. Primer learned his craft under the mentorship of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, and shows here how deeply he immersed himself in the Chicago tradition. Billy Boy Arnold, for his part, got his first harmonica lesson at age twelve from Sonny Boy Williamson, and later gigged with Bo Diddley. The rest of the cast is excellent, and the end result is a lock for this year’s list of best blues releases.
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