Bill Dahl and I Discuss “Groove & Grind: Rare Soul ’63-’73”

From a critical perspective, there’s not a whole lot to be said or written about Groove & Grind: Rare Soul ’63 – ’73. One either gets it, or doesn’t. Suffice to say that if you would enjoy hearing the contents of a jukebox in a 1960s African American juke joint, or if you dig the

Album Review: Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular!

Pianist Johnny Iguana (born Brian Berkowitz) may not have been born in Chicago, but he’s long since made the Windy City his home, and his understanding of Chicago blues is deep and finely textured. Iguana comes from – and is central to – a scene that extends beyond the blues; he’s grounded in punk, jazz,

Album Reviews: Five from the Coed Record Label

Doo-wop – or r&b vocal, if you prefer – is an important part of the rock and roll story. The style began just after World War II, and doo-wop enjoyed its heyday in the early (read: pre-Beatles) 1960s. Doo-wop was primarily an African-American phenomenon, but many white groups got into it as well (and there

Album Review: John Lee Hooker — Whiskey & Wimmen

John Lee Hooker was one of the most important blues artists of his – or any other – generation. With a style that managed at once to be thoroughly authentic and somehow commercial, Hooker’s output has become part of the American musical lexicon. After a stint on a smaller label, Hooker signed with Vee-Jay, for

Album Mini-review: Bobby Rush — Chicken Heads: A 50 Year History of Bobby Rush

File next to: James Brown, Buddy Guy, Otis Redding Bobby Rush‘s musical career has spanned fifty years, at least twenty record labels, and most American popular music genres. He’s tough to pigeonhole: Rush’s music encompasses soul, r&b, funk, blues, and more. He’s earned several awards and scored chart singles. Compiling a career-spanning survey of his

Album Review: Magic Sam and Shakey Jake — Live at Sylvio’s

Maybe you don’t know who Magic Sam is. With a moniker like that, you might guess he’s a character from Willie Dixon‘s “Wang Dang Doodle.” But the blues guitarist born Samuel Gene Maghett had an album career that lasted a relatively brief twelve years, 1957 to his death in 1969. And his first album under

Album Review: Various Artists — The South Side of Soul Street

Not meant to diminish in any way the staggering contribution Stax made to popular music, but that Memphis label was not the be-all and end-all for quality Southern soul music of the 60s and 70s. And while every time a compilation of previously-overlooked music comes out – Los Nuggetz, for example, or the deep-archival comps

Album Review: Albert King – Born Under a Bad Sign

Here’s one often reliable method for discerning whether an album is an important one: when you first hear it, do you recognize several of the songs via popular cover versions? I didn’t grow up with the blues; I’m the product of a white, middle-class suburban family; any “ethnic” music I heard growing up in south

Album Review: Freddie King – The Complete King Federal Singles

Freddie King was a big man with a big guitar sound. An important figure in the history of blues, he’s also one of the most accessible artists in the genre; his influence upon rock artists has been such that when rock-tuned ears hear him, it feels right, familiar somehow. His good-timing approach owed a lot

Album Review: Albert King – I’ll Play the Blues For You

By 1972, legendary blues guitarist and vocalist Albert King had little if anything left to prove. Pushing fifty, the man was a giant both in reputation and physical stature. His recording career began rather late in life: his first album The Big Blues came out in 1962. So he was a mere ten years into