Hubert SUMLIN – Hubert Sumlin's Blues Party 1986

Hubert SUMLIN – Hubert Sumlin’s Blues Party 1986
Recorded at Newbury Sound, Boston, MA (10/1986); The House (10/1986).
2005 Issue.


Hubert Sumlin was Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player for 23 years, and his jagged, desperate, and angular guitar playing was a big part of Wolf’s rough-and-tumble sound. This album was recorded in October 1986 at Newbury Sound in Boston, 11 years after Wolf’s death, and although Sumlin had headlined some European albums, it was to be his debut solo album in the U.S. The sessions were initiated and put together by guitarist Ronnie Earl, who arranged for the presence of an all-star band, and brought in Mighty Sam McClain to handle most of the vocals, since Sumlin was notoriously reticent about occupying center stage. The result was really more of a jam session than anything else, and Sumlin doesn’t really assert himself on any of these tracks, although his hesitant, soft, and fragile vocal on “How Can You Leave Me, Little Girl?” gives the song a real poignancy that manages to overcome the banal lyrics. There was nothing shy about McClain’s singing, however, and he grabs the vocal microphone on four of the songs, including the strong opening track, a version of Willie Dixon’s “Hidden Charms.” Originally released on LP in 1987 by Black Top Records, Hubert Sumlin’s Blues Party has a loose, fairly generic sound, and a case could be made that Sumlin wasn’t quite ready yet for a solo career. Still, the album has its charms.
By Steve Leggett, All Music Guide.
Hubert Sumlin is best known as the ultimate Chicago blues guitarist, the driving force behind Muddy Waters’s band, but he’s had a distinguished career of his own as well. His BLUES PARTY is a 1986 affair where he’s joined by some talented bluesmen of a younger generation, including Ronnie Earl and Mighty Sam McClain. Sumlin and his pals tear it up Chicago-style with all the fire you’d expect from this blues master.
During the golden era of the 1950s, the two kings of the Chicago blues scene were Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Guitarist Hubert Sumlin played for both band leaders. He started out with Wolf, then joined Muddy for a year. Sumlin returned to the Wolf’s band and contributed some of the most influential guitar in modern music, especially on songs like “Killing Floor” and “Ain’t Superstitious”. The partnership ended with Wolf’s death in 1976.
After Wolf passed, Sumlin kept the band going under the leadership of the great saxophonist Eddie Shaw. The guitarist played with Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang until 1980, when he left to begin a solo career.
“Blues Party” was Sumlin’s first domestic release as a band leader. Originally released in 1987, this remastered disc is a diverse, upbeat example of a band leader happy to share the spotlight. Among the many guests joining Sumlin for the party are Might Sam McClain, the Roomful of Blues horns, David Maxwell, Jerry Portnoy and bassist “Mudcat” Ward.
Guitarist Ronnie Earl offers up a fine duet with Sumlin on their co-written original “West Side Soul”, and tenor sax man Greg Piccolo is the featured vocalist on “Letter to My Girlfriend”. McClain sings lead on four cuts, most notably “A Soul That’s Been Abused”, while organist Ron Levy sings his original “Poor Me, Pour Me”. The variety of vocalists and diverse playing styles produces a disc full of surprises where every song has a “fresh” feel, especially the McClain selections. If you missed “Blues Party” the first time around, try this highly recommended reissue.
By R.J.Zurek.
Hubert Sumlin- Vocals, Guitar
Greg Piccolo- Vocals, Tenor Sax
Ron Levy- Vocals, Piano, Organ
Mighty Sam McClain- Vocals
Ronnie Earl- Guitar, Slide Guitar
Jerry Portnoy- Harmonica
Doug James- Baritone Sax
Bob Enos- Trumpet
David Maxwell- Piano
Mudcat Ward- Bass
John Rossi- Drums
01. Hidden Charms 1:56
02. West Side Soul 2:28
03. A Soul That’s Been Abused 7:17
04. Letter To My Girlfriend 2:19
05. How Can You Leave Me, Little Girl? 4:48
06. Can’t Call You No More 2:45
07. Blue Guitar 5:18
08. Down In The Bottom 2:47
09. Poor Me, Pour Me 2:39
10. Living The Blues 4:43

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