Storyville Records just put out this 8 cd set of material that will make you feel like you’re in a smoky and sweaty Chicago juke joint, my friend. The story behind it is this teacher in Paris named Marcelle Chailleux Morgantini fell in love with the Chicago blues (go figure!) and actually started a label (MCM) that had bluesman Jimmy Dawkins take Ms Morgantini through the nooks and crannies of the South Side. So, you’ve got here gents you may not have ever heard before, but have names that make you want to listen no matter what: Magic Slim, Willie James Lyons, Willie Kent, Bobby King, Eddie Clearwater and Jimmy Johnson, just to name a few.
These 8 discs are what makes America’s music “America’s Music.” No other country has music this emotional, raw and rhythmically visceral that is still part of the present culture. In some ways, each artist is anonymous in that he is simply a “blues musician,” and Chicago Blues is, after all, Chicago Blues. In a whole other sense, within that scope, the individuality of each guitarist and vocalist using the canon of the chord progressions, rhythms and songs by the likes of BB King, Robert Johnson, Lowell Fulson and all the rest is as personal as one’s fingerprint. Each cd features one or two artists, and guys you may never have heard of such as Magic Slim (guess what he looks like. Guess again, this IS the blues, after all!) play with a corpuscular inbreeding of this music that you feel like they were created for this sole (or is it “soul”) purpose. Be it Slim’s foreboding voice, or the earthy cries of Big Mojo Elem telling his woes on “Drowning on Dry Land” or Eddie Clearwater playing licks that were meant to cut like a knife on ”Let’s Jam,” you feel like you’re sitting in a naugahyde booth with about 3 neon beer signs lighting up the background of the local hangout. You can almost hear the crack of the pool balls when Bobby King moans “Reconsider Baby” and “Everyday I Have The Blues.” Be it shuffle blues, boogie blues, rockin’ blues, jammin’ blues or moanin’ blues, rough and ready material like “You Don’t Love Me” by Jimmy Dawkins” or “Going to California” by Andrew “Big Voice” Odom feels like the foundation of every type of music that has ever been played in America.
This type of music is much more of a rarity in this country, with synthesized rhythms and whispy limp wristed vocals. These men sing like men, and it doesn’t matter if the themes are booze, broads or bucks, they’re feeling it, and they want you to feel it. So, hike down and out of this Grand Canyon of Musical Americana and get real perspective of the world, and one that hopefully won’t go away.