Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Learning the Blues: Downbeat's 50 best of the last 50 years

Norm Geras shares Thom Nickell's email with some recommendations for the blues novice.

Thom's suggestions strike me as a little eccentric: Bukka White over Robert Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughn as the apex of blues guitar. (Magic Sam, Buddy Guy's best Chess, and Chess 50 year compilation are solid picks.)

About a year ago, Downbeat polled 80 blues musicians, journalists, and record company folks and compiled a list of the 50 greatest blues albums of the last 50 years, asking each participant for a pick of five desert island discs.

Junior Wells' Hoo-doo Man Blues was by far the top pick.

These five made the rest of the "seminal six"

2. B.B. King Live At The Regal (1964)

3.Muddy Waters, 20th Centyrt Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best Of (1999)

4. Howlin' Wolf/Moanin' in the Moonlight
Howlin' Wolf
Howlin' Wolf/Moanin' in the Moonlight (1986)

5 Bobbie Bland, Two Steps From The Blues (1961)

6. Little Walter Best Of (1958)

I can't locate the list, which includes nice short comments from some of the polled, on Downbeat's website, but all 50 picks can be found here.
SRV didn't make the cut.

My work schedule preventing me from catching the PBS series on The Blues, which in now available on DVD and video. There is a campanion book,a gift from my brother, which I am starting to read. And a radio series, which I did catch. The TV series was impressionistic, while the radio series more historical. BTW, the radio series website had web-only audio features in addition to the original programs.

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