The Real Folk Blues/More Real Folk Blues
Last month we delved into the most excellent Howlin' Wolf Moanin' in the Moonlight reissue which combined two of the Wolfman's early Chess Records LPs onto one CD. This album follows the same format, and combines The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folks Blues. In this case, the original two albums were compilations of previous assorted Howlin' Wolf singles and gives the listener an even broader glimpse of Wolf's Chess recordings. The '60s was a period of folk music popularity, and the folks at Chess put their marketing hats on to capitalize on the trend. Yep, now we get Glee. Back then you got Howlin' Wolf. Go figure.
Listen to the track "Killing Floor" and it becomes evident this is where Led Zep found inspiration. Listening to the music on this disc leads one to easily connect the dots to a whole slew of early British rock bands, from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to the Stones. Every track is absolutely stunning. Put it on, crank it up, and you'll be treated to an electrifying experience. "Poor Boy," "Louise," "Sittin' On Top of the World," and a song that could've been written as inspiration for baggers: "Built For Comfort."
Thankfully, the original liner notes, penned by Willie Dixon, are included and perfectly sums up the blues: "No one can dream up the blues, nor can you get the blues when you want them, unless you have a personal reason involved that can create the mood or feeling that makes the blues. One day a man can have the blues because his wife or girlfriend left him, and the next day he can have the blues because she came back." Coming from Willie Dixon, we'll take him at his word.
Gold Bo Diddley
Without Bo Diddley, rock 'n' roll might never have been invented. Certainly, artists like George Thorogood, Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, and many more would have had a much smaller repertoire of songs.
Born Otha Elias Bates in McComb, Mississippi, on December 30, 1928, Bo Diddley also had to travel to Chicago to perfect his art. Signed to Chess' subsidiary label, Checker, Muddy Waters happened by one day and heard Bo's "I'm A Man" and immediately claimed it for his own recording session (Muddy's version was titled "Mannish Boy").
Bo's first hit was a two-headed monster: "Bo Diddley" backed with "I'm A Man" became one of Chess' fastest selling singles. Soon Bo was booked on the Ed Sullivan Show. For some reason, Ed wanted him to sing "Sixteen Tons," the Tennessee Ernie Ford hit. But when Bo took the stage, he performed "Bo Diddley," and after that was promptly rewarded with a lifetime ban from the show. No matter. While Bo never had another hit that eclipsed his first, his stature as one of rock's earliest founding fathers was firmly established.
Listening to Diddley's version of "I'm A Man" reveals how close Mick Jagger came to reinventing himself as a black man. And Bo's band, with Willie Dixon on bass, Otis Spann on piano, Billy Boy Arnold on harmonica, Jerome Green on maracas, and Clifton James holding down drum duties, was one of the earliest superstar groups. All of the songs on this double disc set, "Little Girl," "She's Fine, She's Mine," "Who Do You Love," "I'm Bad," and others prove how so many rock bands made a living imitating Bo Diddley. Unfortunately Bo is no longer with us, but he thankfully left behind these immense treasures to keep us rockin' many years on.