"The Golden Age of Blue Chicago," a new CD from the Club, Blue Chicago, features performances that are synonymous with the period of time known in the blues world as "Postwar Chicago." A time when groundbreaking and historical performances by some of the greatest blues legends occurred.
The era of tough, gritty, electric postwar Chicago blues of the ‘50s and ‘60s recalls independent record labels such as Chess, Checker, Cobra, Vee-Jay, Chief, and Delmark, among others. Eighteen of the artists presented here in "The Golden Age of Blue Chicago" are some of the legendary bluesmen that made these labels famous. These are the bluesmen who took the rhythmic country blues of the Mississippi Delta, up north to Chicago where they plugged it in to electricity and rocked the world. Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, Eddie Taylor, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Otis Spann, J. B. Lenoir, Little Walter, Otis Rush, Earl Hooker, Sunnyland Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Lockwood JR, Billy Boy Arnold, Luther Allison, and Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers are all featured performers on this CD. The list of artists who appear in the backup bands is equally impressive. Not only do many of the headliners appear as sidemen on several of the other cuts, you have artists like Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, Fred Below, Earl Phillips, LaFayette Leake, Hubert Sumlin, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Louis Myers, Dave Myers, and others making their appearance here as well.
As with all compilations made with songs from the different labels, one must provide a little leeway for differences in sound quality but with a set list like this, you can’t go wrong. An avid collector of Chicago blues probably already has most of the artists on this list but "The Golden Age of Blue Chicago" pulls them all together on one handy concise CD. This would be a great compilation for the burgeoning Chicago blues lover to begin sampling some of the bluesmen that made the town famous for it's blues. I know I would have paid to have seen this roster at a Chicago Bluesfest -- I'd have walked there too.
Muttbucket awards "The Golden Age of Blue Chicago" 4 1/2 buckets out of 5 (because of the sound quality of the originals) 5 out of 5 for the music and artists.
Blue Chicago 534 North Clark Street Chicago, Illinois 60610
Blind Pig Records is handling distribution internationally.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Stephen T. Davidson, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.