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 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

Album Review: Alberta Hunter – Downhearted Blues

Here’s a slightly unusual item, but it’s of such historical import that it would be unfair to call it a curio. Alberta Hunter was 86 years old when this live set — titled Downhearted Blues — at Greenwich Village’s The Cookery was captured. But the verve with which she delivers the songs belies her age.