Saturday, July 30, 2011

The magnetic dog-maw

“Meet me on the highway
And bring me my running shoes,
I’m on the road again
And I ain’t got time to lose”

By the summer of 1970 I was a rabid blues pup, devouring as much blues as was available whether live or recorded, and there was plenty. Lots of great records on Blues Classics, Arhoolie, Testament, Yazoo; even Chess was still putting out reissues of great older stuff. Enough to drive a poor kid broke. And in Southern California you could travel to places like the Ash Grove or the Golden Bear and hear folks like Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, Fred McDowell, and Charlie Musselwhite live. I once saw Son House and the opening act was the Firesign Theatre! Bootleg albums had just been, if not invented, given a kick in the pants with the issue of Great White Wonder a year or so previously. So I decided to put out a Chicago blues reissue. Except I didn’t know how, and I wasn't really a collector in the true sense of the word. So with lots of help from my friends, I conceived of my answer, or sequel, to Blues Classics’ Chicago Blues: The Early 1950’s. The LP, on Muskadine records, was titled On the Road Again, after Floyd Jones’ sequel to his own “Dark Road;” it featured many of the same artists as were on the Blues Classics reissue. Frank Scott generously supplied rare 78s and 45s (and for his trouble got back a cracked Little Walter 78 on Parkway), Pete Welding helped edit the set, Rick Griffin supplied a cover that was way beyond what was being put on record covers of any stripe at the time. (The review in Blues Unlimited called it “wicked” and it certainly was. Griffin later used it in his Man from Utopia book.) Hy Moore showed me how to put the graphics together. And we were off. Income from the first LPs sold was used to pay royalties to the original artists. Bob Koester at Delmark helped supply addresses for several of them. Johnny Shines added me to his Christmas card list. It was all really fun being a record mogul, but sometime during the following year, I turned the label over to Frank Scott, who issued a second pressing with better sound and a much tamer cover. . . .

These days Frank Scott runs Roots & Rhythm, a great mail-order resource for the kinds of music heard on the Magic Jukebox. Check ’em out at:

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