hound dog taylor

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MORE MILES THAN MONEY: JOURNEYS THROUGH AMERICAN MUSIC by GARTH CARTWRIGHT

MORE MILES THAN MONEY: JOURNEYS THROUGH AMERICAN MUSIC by GARTH CARTWRIGHT

Writing about music is a sedentary affair today: CDs are reviewed at home, and artists are interviewed by phone, in a comfortable hotel or their record company office. Latterly, to my regret, it has been like that for me -- but not so for Cartwright whose previous book Princes Amongst Men saw him on the road in some bad and strange parts of...

Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers: Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers (1971)

Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers: Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers (1971)

Although the blues can be a sophisticated music, there's something more earthy, vibrant and appealing about it when it is played from somewhere further south than the cerebral cortext. Hound Dog Taylor played from a point somewhere between the heart, the gut and the groin -- and made the most thrilling music to come out of the Chicago blues...

Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs: Wooly Bully (1964)

Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs: Wooly Bully (1964)

When this out-of-the-blue single raced around the globe at the height of Beatlemania it sounded like a typically gimmicky hit of the period. The band name, Sam wearing a turban and the group dressed like Arabs didn't exactly deny it. You might have expected them to disappear immediately. But they didn't. They came back with a...

Dirty Red: Mother Fuyer (1947)

Dirty Red: Mother Fuyer (1947)

Blues and jazz artists often used coded language to get their lyrics past record companies and radio programmers, so you would get a song like When I'm In My Tea (by Jo-Jo Adams, 1946) about marijuana or Dope Head Blues by Victoria Spivey about cocaine. Coded sex was everywhere . . . although there is no mistaking the meaning of songs like...

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HASIL ADKINS (2012): Howling at the night

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HASIL ADKINS (2012): Howling at the night

Whatever his style was, fame had no interest in embracing it. The closest this rockabilly blues screamer -- who started in the mid Fifties -- came to wider recognition was when the Cramps covered his song She Said and some of his music appeared in the film White Lightin'. But for Hasil (pronounced "hassle"), he just had to make do...

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

When Jim Carroll died in September 2009 at age 60, it went largely unnoticed by the rock culture which had once embraced him, and had spoken about this New York poet-turned-singer in the same breath as Patti Smith and Lou Reed. Carroll's rock career was admittedly short -- a few albums in the early Eighties and little else -- but his...

Nick Curran and the Lowlifes: Reform School Girl (Eclecto Grooves/Southbound)

Nick Curran and the Lowlifes: Reform School Girl (Eclecto Grooves/Southbound)

I'm sure the heavily tattooed Curran from Austin, Texas wouldn't make any claims of great originality (although he does pen more than half this album, his song titles include Reel Rock Party, Psycho, Lusty L'il Lucy, Filthy and so on). But he simply slices off large and rowdily enjoyable slabs of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Little Richard, Gene...

Caveman: I'm Ready (1991)

Caveman: I'm Ready (1991)

Just as Run DMC found when they hooked themselves up with a metal guitar part from Aerosmith for Walk This Way (here) -- and King Kurlee confirmed when he got Blackmore Jnr in to play the classic Smoke on the Water riff (here) -- when hip-hop appropriates from tough rock the results can be pretty powerful. Caveman out of High Wycombe, were...

Reverend J.M. Gates: Hitler and Hell (1941)

Reverend J.M. Gates: Hitler and Hell (1941)

The Rev Gates (b 1884) was preacher-cum-gospel singer whose style was often call-and-response in the manner of Baptist churches. He worked out of Atlanta and aside from sermonising he was a prolific recording artist, some estimates say he recorded around 200 songs and sermons from around 1926 when he scored big with Death's Black Train is Coming...

Otis Taylor: Clovis People Vol 3 (Telarc)

Otis Taylor: Clovis People Vol 3 (Telarc)

First, there is no Vol 1 or Vol 2, but this addition to Taylor's catalogue of "trance blues" which follows the excellent Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs of last year is certainly a welcome one. Taylor takes a very different view of the blues: while others see it as an idiom with strict stylistic codes if not chord progressions,...

Big Daddy Wilson: Love is the Key (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Big Daddy Wilson: Love is the Key (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Singer Wilson from North Carolina is yet another of those US blues (and jazz) artists who found a more sympathetic and profitable environment in Europe and these days operates out of Germany playing festivals and clubs across the Continent. Ironically -- because he grew up in the church, listened to country music at home and joined the army...

Oli Brown: Heads I Win Tails You Lose (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Oli Brown: Heads I Win Tails You Lose (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

The blues goes in cycles of visibility: there were those great days of the late Forties/Fifties in the South and the early Sixties in Chicago; the British blues boom of the early/mid Sixties (John Mayall, Clapton, the first Fleetwood Mac etc) and then . . . You can tick them off just by a name alone: Alligator Records (Hound Dog Taylor and...

CHESS BLUES: Taking it from the street

CHESS BLUES: Taking it from the street

Record companies are usually at their best when close to the street, turnlng up talent rather than just distributing it. The Chess label was so close to the street it felt the sweat. Polish immigrant brothers Leonard and Phil Chess owned clubs around Chicago and from the late 40s started recording some of the most formative R & B and...

Various Artists: Murder; Songs from the Dark Side of the Soul (Trikont/Yellow Eye)

Various Artists: Murder; Songs from the Dark Side of the Soul (Trikont/Yellow Eye)

The seemingly endless CSI and such like on television, movies about killers and cops, as well as news reports of real life murders suggests that what began with Cain and Abel still fascinates us -- and we didn't need Nick Cave to tell us that murder songs were kind of interesting. This 23 song r'n'b, blues and country collection brings...

Darren Watson: Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (Red Rocks)

Darren Watson: Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (Red Rocks)

It's been far too long between albums for Wellington blues-rocker Watson -- frontman-guitarist for Chicago Smokeshop, later simply Smokeshop -- because his excellent South Pacific Soul album (under his own name) was five years ago. In some ways Watson has mellowed, inasmuch as the vocals and guitar work here are taut as if the passions are...

BUDDY GUY INTERVIEWED (1992): Damn right he's famous

BUDDY GUY INTERVIEWED (1992): Damn right he's famous

Buddy Guy is talking about his club Legends in his home town of Chicago. Every Sunday and Monday it is open for all-comers, just sign at the door, get up there and play your blues. Since Guy won a Grammy for his raw and soulful Damn Right I Got The Blues album this year, he’s seen a few more up-and-corners through the door. He...

Buddy Guy: Living Proof (Silvertone)

Buddy Guy: Living Proof (Silvertone)

The great Guy has been one of blues' most enduring and endearing characters: he upstaged the Stones in his cameo slot on their Shine A Light doco, and way back influenced Hendrix. He's been picking up awards for the past couple of decades, but unlike some others who have become part of the institution (and tailor albums for awards, as...

The Allman Brothers Band: At Fillmore East (1971)

The Allman Brothers Band: At Fillmore East (1971)

When the mobile recording studio was parked outside the Fillmore on New York's 2nd Avenue in March 1971 to record this double vinyl Allman Brothers Band album it was both a beginning and an ending: it was last concert at Bill Graham's Fillmore East (also on the bill were Albert King and the J Geils Band) but also the start of the Allman's ascent...

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird (demo, 1970)

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird (demo, 1970)

It's a joke that never ages, at a rock concert someone yells out "Free Bird". It's such a standard that the American writer Mitch Myers entitled his collection of rock anecdotes and fiction The Boy Who Cried Free Bird. Whoever that guy is, he's as notorious as the one who shouted "Judas" at Dylan. The joke -- for those...

The Doobie Brothers: World Gone Crazy (Shock)

The Doobie Brothers: World Gone Crazy (Shock)

The Doobies' great Listen to the Music, Long Train Running and China Grove in the late 60s/early 70s were driven by urgent guitars and hammering keyboards delivering a forward momentum (which denied the stoner reference of their chosen name). But surely no old fans could fall for the limp, lame and geriatric opener here A Brighter Day...

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad: Taledragger (Alive/Southbound)

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad: Taledragger (Alive/Southbound)

At 90, the great and late-discovered bluesman T-Model Ford still sounds like he is one man who isn't going to let the road of life weary him. Here with his touring band GravelRoad, he delivers a short sharp shock: eight songs, two hitting past the seven minute mark, closing with a nasty-edged Little Red Rooster. This is roadhouse blues which...

Son House: Levee Camp Moan (1970)

Son House: Levee Camp Moan (1970)

By 1964 when the British blues explosion was starting to take off, the great and tetchy Son House was living in retirement and spent most of days drinking. He hadn't played much since his friend Willie Brown had died more than a decade previous. He'd preached some but mostly got drunk, he hadn't played guitar in five years. But when his...

ALLIGATOR RECORDS 1971 - 2011: Four decades of brittle and often brilliant blues

ALLIGATOR RECORDS 1971 - 2011: Four decades of brittle and often brilliant blues

In his excellent book More Miles Than Money, subtitled “journeys through American music”, the expat London-based writer Garth Cartwright meets Bruce Iglauer who founded the Alligator blues label in Chicago which became that city's most important label after Chess went belly-up in 1975. As Cartwright notes, the label was home...

Alvin Robinson: Down Home Girl (1964)

Alvin Robinson: Down Home Girl (1964)

When the Beatles and the Stones covered songs by black American artists on their early albums and championed Motown soul (Beatles) and Chicago blues singers (Stones) they undoubtedly drew attention to the genius which many locals had overlooked. The Stones' early shows and albums were stacked with songs by Chuck Berry (Come On, their...

Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl (J&R/Southbound)

Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl (J&R/Southbound)

There are some extraordinary guitar talents -- Roy Buchanan comes to mind immediately -- whose gift just seems to go right past an audience you know would appreciate it, if they just shifted their attention in that direction. Bonamassa -- who also has lungs like leather and can write terrific blues rock songs also -- is another. He's...

Bo Diddley: Say Man (1958)

Bo Diddley: Say Man (1958)

The late Bo Diddley was perhaps best known for that distinctive self-titled riff that he bequeathed to rock. He used it on a number of songs -- Hey Bo Diddley, Pretty Thing, Hush Your Mouth and others -- and it came into rock with Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away, the Downliners Sect's Be A Sect Maniac and Sect Appeal and many others. Bo referred...

Green Jelly: Three Little Pigs (1993)

Green Jelly: Three Little Pigs (1993)

There just aren't enough fairy tales at From the Vaults. Only the clip of Sam the Sham and the Pharoah's Little Red Riding Hood as far as I can recall. Time then to resurrect this from the grunge era, the delightful Green Jelly (an umlat over the Y meant it was pronounced "Green Jello") with their update of the old story of the...

Big Daddy Wilson: Thumb a Ride (Ruf)

Big Daddy Wilson: Thumb a Ride (Ruf)

This big bluesman with a sometimes gentle and soulful voice has appeared at Elsewhere previously with his fine Love is the Key which featured Eric Bibb, a singer he is close in spirit to. This all acoustic outing recorded in Germany (where he has lived for many years) with his touring band (and a studio percussion player) continues his...

Koko Taylor: Wang Dang Doodle (1960)

Koko Taylor: Wang Dang Doodle (1960)

Although you never need an excuse to play this strutting Willie Dixon-penned classic from Chess Records' studio with the great Koko Taylor growling her way through it, it does seem timely on this very day as Tom Waits' new album Bad As Me has a terrific track inspired in part by its raw spirit. Waits' Satisfied might nod to the Rolling...

Various Artists; Chicago/The Blues/Today! Vol 1 (1966)

Various Artists; Chicago/The Blues/Today! Vol 1 (1966)

With an American history over a century long, the blues isn't easy an easy journey to begin on: do you go at it chronologically from slave chants and field hollers, or work back from white popularisers like George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Led Zeppelin? Given that most people live in what we might call the post-rock era it might be...

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