Saturday, May 28, 2016


Ry Cooder • El UFO Cayó • 2005

Get it: Chávez Ravine

Friday, May 27, 2016


Here, for your listening pleasure, is our fifth and final non-definitive (but no less essential for it) 1950s Blues in Chicago playlist. This round picks up where the previous post from 1954 left off and will eventually bring us to the end of the fifties and just beyond. Leading off is Robert Lockwood and his 1955 take on the “Sweet Home Chicago” theme, popularized in the 1930s by his “stepfather” Robert Johnson. We’ve also got a couple of tough Parrot/Chess numbers by J. B. Lenoir. By the mid- to late-fifties, the South and West sides of Chicago were beginning to usher in the modern blues guitar sound pioneered by B. B. King, with young turks like Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, and others leading the foray. Even Elmore James and Muddy Waters were sporting a tough new sound, and Memphis Slim, formerly fronting a sax-led guitarless band, was now using Matt Murphy to great effect.

Robert Jr. & His Combo • Aw Aw • 1955

Robert Lockwood Jr., vocal/guitar; Ernest Cotton, tenor sax; Sunnyland Slim, piano; poss. Alfred Elkins, bass; 
Alfred Wallace, drums. Chicago, c. May 1955

Label image: George Paulus, courtesy of The Red Saunders Research Foundation

Thursday, May 26, 2016


The Swan Silvertones • Seek, Seek • 1963

Find it: Singin’ in My Soul / Blessed Assurance

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016


Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys inaugurate Volume Nine of Blues What Am with a longtime favorite (his and ours), “Sitting on Top of the World.” In fact we confess to liking Bob and the boys’ version(s) better than the original(s) by the Mississippi Sheiks. Fifteen years separate these two Wills recordings, the first starting with an old-time New Orleans street parade feel and the later recording after hours and very bluesy. Hard to pick a favorite so we’re playing ’em both.
—Melvin Cowsnofski

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys • Sittin’ on Top of the World • 1936

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys • Sittin’ on Top of the World • 1951

Get ’em: 1936 version – San Antonio Rose; 1951 version – Boot Heel Drag: The MGM Years

Album cover: All Music

Sunday, May 22, 2016


“The downside of settin’ the woods on fire.” —Bill Friskics-Warren, Heartaches by the Number

483.  Honky Tonk Blues • Hank Williams with His Drifting Cowboys • 1952

Get it: 40 Greatest Hits

Label pic: Rockfiles