Archive for The Blues

Lost Classics! The Greatest Blues Album in the World

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2009 by 30daysout

Martin Scorsese Presents The BluesGodfathers and Sons

In 2003, acclaimed movie director Martin Scorcese produced a series of seven films, each created by another acclaimed director, and they called the whole thing “Martin Scorcese Presents The Blues.”  The series aired on PBS and my favorite episode was “Godfathers and Sons,” directed by Marc Levin (not the idiot right-wing talk radio guy).

Levin paired Public Enemy rapper Chuck D with Marshall Chess, son of Leonard Chess and heir to the Chess Records legacy, in Chicago and the film followed them as they produced an album combining contemporary hip-hop musicians with veteran blues and jazz players.  But along the way the film explored the rich history of Chicago blues as recorded by Chess Records, and there was great footage of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bo Diddley and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, along with original performances by Koko Taylor, Otis Rush, Magic Slim, Ike Turner and Sam Lay.

As good as the film was, the soundtrack CD is even better: it could be the greatest blues album ever released.  Among the 22 tracks are a couple of hip-hoppers and white boys, but when I’m playing the blues I always seem to gravitate back to this album.  There’s a couple of genuflections each to the two gods of Chicago blues – Muddy Waters is represented by “Mannish Boy” and “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man,” while Howlin’ Wolf checks in with “Spoonful” and “Little Red Rooster,” classics all.  And the killer lineup includes Koko Taylor with “Wang Dang Doodle,” Jimmy Rogers, Buddy Guy, Magic Slim, Little Walter and Jimmy Reed performing their best-known songs.   And what would a Chess anthology be without the late, great Bo Diddley – he could fill an album all by himself but here he’s represented by “Diddley Daddy.”

Continue reading