I Want the Blues
March 28, 2008 2:00 AM   Subscribe

Help me discover more of the blues music I love.

After exploring reggae music for the past 15 years, I find myself wanting to discover more blues artists like the ones I was into before the reggae bug bit--James Harmon, The Bel Airs, Freddie King, etc. I don't know the right adjectives to describe this kind of blues, but I would describe it as mid-tempo dance party blues, heavy on the groove and with a classic late 50s/early 60s sound--fender tube amps and guitars. (Follow the Bel Airs link for an example.) If you know what I'm describing, please recommend some artists and albums. Thanks!
posted by keith0718 to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Both of the Alberts - Collins & King - should be right up your street... Also try some Elmore James, T. Bone Walker - most of the chicago blues players have done some "dance party blues" in their time..
posted by benzo8 at 2:15 AM on March 28, 2008

Magic Slim and the Teardrops might fit the bill. I saw them when I lived in the Chicago area. Magic is awesome! (link plays music upon entering in case you are at work)

I also love Buddy Guy. Saw him at Legends once and he came down into the audience and used my fingernail as a guitar pick. He's pretty jammin'.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:39 AM on March 28, 2008

Response by poster: T. Bone is cool, but the stuff I have of his has a jazzy flavor w/ horns. This makes me realize that what I'm after is stuff that is, for the most part, WITHOUT HORNS.
posted by keith0718 at 3:39 AM on March 28, 2008

One of my favorite high-energy slide guitar rollicking blues bands is Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials. Get Wild! is a good starting point for their sound.

Also, the self-titled 1965 album The Paul Butterfield Blues Band probably fits the bill. It's most up-tempo Chicago style stuff, and Butterfield remains, for my money, the gold standard for blues harmonica.

Lastly, pyramid termite had a post in the blue celebrating Hound Dog Taylor a couple days ago. It's probably a lot less clean and crisp than the stuff you're talking about, but you can't deny that the Dog is grimey party blues personified.
posted by peacecorn at 3:52 AM on March 28, 2008

Best answer: 2nding Albert King; his Stax recordings are probably exactly what you want, recorded with Booker T and the MGs as the backup band. Midtempo dance party blues doesn't get much better than that. This album is a great introduction; check the clip for "Crosscut Saw" and you'll see what I mean.
posted by mediareport at 5:39 AM on March 28, 2008

Best answer: Actually, this album is probably the one to get over any greatest hits comp; it's his first for Stax and is a milestone in the genre, collecting his first singles for the label. It's a monster.
posted by mediareport at 5:43 AM on March 28, 2008

Best answer: As is often suggested around here and is a great resource, try Pandora to locate more music you would like. I have it playing all the time in the background while I work.
posted by mcarthey at 6:05 AM on March 28, 2008

Best answer: One thing I do to find music similar to an artist I like is to check the artist's bio page (if they have one) in the iTunes Music Store. It tells you who influenced them, who their contemporaries were and who was in turn influenced by that artist. I also check what playlists have the songs I like, since those playlists often have artists with similar songs.

A similar trick is to look up the artist in Wikipedia. At the bottom of the page are typically one or more categories, so you might click on one of those to find something like "Blues artists from Chicago" or "Musicians who recorded on the Decca label."

I second the suggestion about Pandora made by mccarthey.
posted by tomwheeler at 6:57 AM on March 28, 2008

For growling electric guitars and great beats (obvious rock and roll precursors):

Elmore James
J.B. Hutto
Muddy waters
Houndog Taylor
Fleetwood Mac (pre Lindsay Buckingham/Stevie Nicks/Christine McVie)
ZZ Top (the early years)
Howlin' Wolf (great voice)
posted by subajestad at 8:26 AM on March 28, 2008

Of course...albums:

EJ -- The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James
JBH -- Masters of Modern Blues
MW -- I'm Ready, Hard Again (blues purists tend to shun these particular albums because they were produced by Johhny Winter...me, I'm no purist).
HT -- Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers
FM -- Fleetwood Mac in Chicago (very nice because although they were blind drunk, they're in the company of Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, and several other blues luminaries and they rock out)
ZZ -- No album in particular; songs that come to mind are Blue Jean Blues, Jesus Just left Chicago.
HW -- His Best

For more modern blues, two contemporary masters (both now defunct) are R.L Burnside (you can't really go wrong with him) and Junior Kimbrough (both representatives of Mississippi juke joint blues). In this vein you might enjoy what I find to be a great movie called Deep Blues, that includes performances by both these guys. the narrator is Robert Palmer (not that Robert Palmer), a blues historian and ├╝bergeek who wrote a book by the same name, which is very readable and informative.

Another great blues read is Alan Lomax's The Land Where the Blues Began. This Lomax fellow made his name by going out into the hinterlands and pressing field recording on wax of then obscure folk artists (including bluesmen such as Leadbelly and the great Muddy himself).

Moby sampled one of Lomax's field recordings in Find My Baby (that song that was used in an old Tiger Woods AmEx commercial).

That by the way is a genre that good stuff has come out of (sampling old blues/field hollers). Some great stuff would be:
Tangle Eye
Greg Hale Jones (his music was used a lot in The General's Daughter)

Sorry for such a long post. I'm addicted to blues.
posted by subajestad at 9:15 AM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

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