Guitars alone are not the blues. "Blow'n the Blues: Best of the Great Harp Players" gives center stage to what's commonly called the mouth organ or the French harp, and in blues circles, the harmonica is most affectionately known as the "Mississippi saxophone."
Among the notable cuts are Junior Wells' moving tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Help Me," and the country blues feel of James Cotton in Jimmy Reed's "Honest I Do." Walter Horton's raw, rippling harmonica can be heard on "Hey, Hey" (Johnny Shines Blues Band) and the spacey "Angel Food Cake" and the more country vibed "Tell Me" are representative of the Siegel-Schwall Band's unique blues-rock approach. Also on the compilation is Paul Butterfield-perhaps the greatest white harmonica player ever-with "Blues with a Feeling" as well as Horton's Blues Harp Band with Memphis Charlie on "Rockin' My Boogie."
The 19-track 69 minute and 26 second CD is a must for lovers of the old school harp players that recorded for Vanguard in the 1960s. The Junior Wells' tracks alone are worth the price of admission. A compete discography details the sources for of each song, including the performer lineup, recording dates and producer information.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.