Archive for the George “Harmonica” SMITH Category

George "Harmonica" SMITH – Now You Can Talk About Me 1960-1982

Posted in BLUES, George "Harmonica" SMITH on December 10, 2010 by whoisthemonk

George “Harmonica” SMITH – Now You Can Talk About Me 1960-1982
Recorded between 1960 and 1982.
1998. BPLP 5049


Now You Can Talk About Me collects mid- and late-period Smith, with the harmonica genius’ ’60s sides for the microscopic imprint Sotoplay sampled on the first five cuts. The remainder of the album is from a 1982 session for the Murray Brothers label with Rod Piazza behind the board, which produced the Boogie’n with George album. Also included are the previously unreleased “Last Chance” and a powerful instrumental slow-burner. Junior Watson shines on guitar on these tracks and Smith’s tone is big, fat, rich, and full of ideas galore on tunes like “Bad Start,” “Astatic Stomp,” “Sunbird,” and the title track. But Smith’s use of a chromatic harp will strike most blues mavens as something unique and out of the ordinary, as he tackles such standards as “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “Peg o’ My Heart” with considerable élan, imparting both with a bluesy feel that Jerry Murad & the Harmonicats could only envision. If you like great blues harmonica playing, you’re going to love Now You Can Talk About Me. Add Smith’s name to the list of all-time greats near the top with this one.
By Cub Koda.
There’s more than a few California harp players who grew up under the influence of the man who was truly the king of West Coast blues harmonica. To be sure, George “Harmonica” Smith outshone even the great Little Walter when it came to blowing chromatic harp. Sadly under-recorded and under-appreciated, Smith deserves recognition as one of the greats. This release goes a long way in rectifying that situation. Of the fourteen offerings, five are extremely rare 60s reissues, including a real rocker called “Tight Dress” and a rather haughty little number titled “Blowing the Blues.” The remainders were produced by harmonica virtuoso Rod Piazza. In the mix are powerhouse blues pieces like “Goin’ Down Slow” and the previously unissued “Last Chance.” Top these with such unexpected gems as “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “Peg O’ My Heart” and what you have is pure harmonica heaven.
By Lars Gandil.
George “Harmonica” Smith is one of the more influential of the great Chicago Blues harmonica players. After playing with Muddy Waters for a while, he made his way west and finally ended up in California where he influenced an ntire generation of young Blues harmonica players, including Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza,William Clarke and James Harman.
This collection of recordings by George Smith is an excellent example of why harmonica players flocked to him. It is a sampling of recordings that he made in his later years and includes some great Chicago Blues as well as a few surprises like “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” and “Peg O My Heart”. The playing and the singing are outstanding. the recordings are raw, but a true joy to listen to.

If you’re curious as to where a great deal of the California Blues harmonica players learned to play, then I definitely recommend that you give this album a whirl.
By Peter Krampert.
When Fabulous Thunderbird harpslinger Kim Wilson calls George Smith “the most underrated musician I know”, he isn’t indulging in hyperbole. Nearly every important harmonica player on the scene today – Rod Piazza, Charlie Musselwhite, Paul deLay, Mark Hummel, and the late William Clarke, to name a few – have cited George Smith as a major innovator and influence. Yet, until recently, the Mount Rushmore of Blues Harmonica has had a blank patch of uncarved stone where George Smith’s face should be. Smith was woefully underrecorded in his lifetime, and even what recorded output exists has remained mostly out of print until now. Happily, Blind Pig has decided to rectify the situation with the release of Now You Can Talk About Me, a compilation of extremely hard-to-find recordings Smith made in the ’60s, plus selections (including one previously unreleased tune) from his final recording session for Murray Brothers in 1982. Now contemporary blues fans can savor the brilliant instrumental power and technique of Smiths harp playing and come to appreciate his heartfelt vocal style – clearly he’s among the best of the singing harmonica players. These welcome tracks showcase Smith at the height of his powers.
By Tom Townsley.
If there is a West Coast blues harp style, then George Smith is clearly its Father. In addition, Smith was one of the most compelling blues singers of his generation. When he leaned back and started blowin’the blues, Smith created some of the most exciting music in blues history. His hard-drive, metallic-edged diatonic harmonic playing, with its frequent use of tongue-blocked octaves and a pulsing vibrato that seemed to emanate from the pit of his stomach, offered up a new sound that would infuence legions of young players.
This classic release combines rare sides from two ‘sixties sessions with a great set of recordings with Rod Piazza’s band from 1982.
We feel fortunate to have located these rare sides from George Smith, former Muddy Waters band member and father of the ‘West Coast meets Chicago’ school of harmonica players. A major influence on modern blues harmonica masters like Rod Piazza, Kim Wilson, William Clarke and Paul Delay, this legend was woefully under-recorded.
George is backed on several cuts by Rod Piazza’s band, ‘The Mighty Flyers’. This is the first time this material has appeared on CD and includes several previously unreleased tracks.
“George Smith was a giant on the harmonica. He was an innovator, one of the unsung, unheralded heroes of the instrument. He was also a hell of a nice guy, a person of generosity and good humor.” – Charlie Musselwhite
“If you look at modern blues harp players, you’ll find a little George Smith in all of them. His physical appearance and stature were matched only by his presence and attack on harmonica.” – Rod Piazza
“George was a great player and a great vocalist. He’s really one of the underrated players. You can hear his influence in everything I play. There’ll never be anyone like him again!”
By Kim Wilson.
George “Harmonica” Smith- (Vocals, Harmonica);
Jr. Watson, Doug MacLeod, Pete “Guitar” Lewis, Marshall Hooks- (Guitar);
Rod Piazza- (Harmonica);
Honey Piazza, J.D. Nicholson- (Piano);
Bill Stuve- (Acoustic Bass);
Curtis Tilman- (Bass);
Chuck Thomas, Bill Swartz- (Drums).
Side A
A1. Blowin’ The Blues 4:14
A2. Yes, Baby 2:12
A3. Tight Dress 2:29
A4. Times Won’t Be Hard Always 2:26
A5. Goin’ Down Slow 3:32
A6. Last Chance 4:04

Side B
B1. Boogie’n With George 2:15
B2. Mannish Boy 4:09
B3. Bad Start 4:17
B4. Sunbird 2:07
B5. Good Things 2:48
B6. Chicago City 4:29

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George "Harmonica" SMITH – Oop in Doop in Blues Harp 2003

Posted in BLUES, George "Harmonica" SMITH on December 4, 2010 by whoisthemonk

George “Harmonica” SMITH – Oop in Doop in Blues Harp 2003


This album should be in any serious blues fans collection. The ensemble work is as good as it gets. Mr. Smith should easily be in the pantheon of all time greats like Wolf, Waters and Walter. His harp playing is incredible and his vocals are a close second. Great tunes great playing, quit reading reviews and just buy this for crying out loud!
George “Harmonica” Smith was a fine singer and harmonica player who, though obviously influenced by Little Walter, was true original who himself was a big influence on a number of harmonica players, particularly on the West Coast. In the 50s, 60s & 70s he recorded a number of prized singles for various small Los Angeles based labels – Lapel, J&M, Sotoplay, Carolyn and Hittin Heavy and this collection gathers most of them together. One of the joys of a collection of material like this is the considerable variety of material featured ranging from intense down home blues like All Last Night,Oop in Doop in Blues Harp and Nobody Knows to great instrumentals like Hot Rolls, Loose Screws and a spine chilling version of Summertime to expendable novelties like Rope That Twist. George’s singing and playing are excellent, sometimes playing chromatic harp, to great effect and is accompanied by top L.A. Session men like J.D. Nicholson, Pete Lewis, Jimmy Nolen, Curtis Tillman and others.
01. Telephone Blues
02. Have Myself a Ball
03. I Found My Baby
04. Oopin’ Doopin’ Doopin’
05. Blues Stay Away
06. Rockin’  Listen
07. Blues in the Dark
08. Down in New Orleans (Hey, Mr. Porter)
09. Love Life
10. Cross Eyed Suzie Lee [Alternate Take]
11. California Blues  Listen
12. Early on Sunday Morning [Take 2]
13. Blues Stay Away [Alternate Take]
14. You Don’t Love Me
15. I Found My Baby [Alternate Take]
16. Down in New Orleans (Hey Mr. Porter) [Alternate Take]
17. Rockin’ [Alternate Take]
18. Early One Monday Morning [Take 1]
19. Oopin’ Doopin’ Doopin’ [Alternate Take]
20. California Blues [Alternate Take]
21. Cross Eyed Suzie Lee

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