Archive for the Junior WELLS Category

Junior WELLS – Calling All Blues (1957-1963) 2000

Posted in BLUES, Junior WELLS on November 25, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Junior WELLS – Calling All Blues (1957-1963) 2000

Blues

Following his recorded debut as a leader for States Records, Junior Wells signed with Mel London, producing a number of sides for the producer’s Chief and Profile imprints. Perhaps best-known for his spectacular harmonica playing, this period, documented on Calling All Blues, saw Wells emerging as an outstanding vocalist as well. A consummate performer with a firm grasp of the range of emotions the music can produce, Wells wrings every drop of feeling out of the lyrics. The singer growls, shouts, howls, moans across these 24 tracks including two versions of his great “I Could Cry” and other classics like “Little By Little,” “Cha-Cha-Cha in Blue,” and “Lovey Dovey Lovey One.” While it has a great deal of overlap with the collections from Paula Records, Calling All Blues remains a fine introduction with no glaring omissions. The bulk of the compositions come from three sources: his employer, London; the “poet of the blues,” Willie Dixon; and Wells himself. While the recording quality may be shaky at times, it’s to be expected and in fact only adds to the feeling of authenticity emanating from the music. It’s like stepping inside a hot, sweaty room for a forbidden peek at a late-night jam session. Wells and company imbue the material with such intensity, it can almost be overwhelming at times. For the most part, the singer leaves his harp alone, but the handful of harmonica moments are memorable. On the instrumental title track, he lays into his instrument, battling for space amongst piercing guitar and piano leads. Only when the music is tempered by the more popular forms of rock & roll and R&B on songs like “I’ll Get You Too,” “One Day (Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone),” and “I Need a Car” does it begin to lose its potency. Leading up to the sessions that produced Wells’ classic 1966 album Hoodoo Man Blues, this is electric blues at its fiery best.
By Nathan Bush, All Music Guide.
**
These late-50s and early-60s recordings for Mel London’s Chief, Profile, and USA labels are available in a number of different guises. The Paula label has one, P-Vine has one, and Fuel Records released this rather handsomely pacakaged and nicely annotated collection back in 2000.

There is no major difference between any of them, though. The P-Vine disc (titled “Messin’ With The Kid”) has a couple more tracks, alternate takes to the masters, but it’s basically all the same stuff.
Producer Mel London provides some of the songs himself; the rest is mostly Wells’ own originals, with a few covers of songs by Willie Dixon and Tampa Red added to the mix. And there’s some juicy prime rib here, or prime Junior as it is. The sizzling 1961 single “Messin’ With The Kid” is one of Wells’ very best and most intense vocals performances, and the title track is a smouldering instrumental featuring slide guitarist Earl Hooker (and it’s one of the few to really feature Wells’ harp as well). And we get a terrific, gritty cover of “It Hurts Me Too”, too, and a powerful slow blues, “I’m A Stranger”.

It’s a shame that London decided to downplay Junior Wells’ harmonica, though, especially when he does it in favour of a hideous-sounding organ. Wells was a terrific, powerful singer, and this set presents Junior Wells the singer rather than Junior Wells the harpist, which is certainly good enough. But we could have had both his singing and his harmonica playing, which would have been better!
Songs like “You Don’t Care”, “I’ll Get You Too,” the too-sweet “One Day”, and the inane “I Need a Car” are too much pop and mainstream rock n’ roll for me, and probably for most other blues fans as well, which means that this set doesn’t match Wells’ earliest and much tougher recordings, the phenomenal early- and mid-50s sides gathered on “Blues Hit Big Town”.
By  Docendo Discimus.
**
“Calling All Blues” is, first of all, a veritable savior (it has been awhile since anything I hadn’t heard before came out by Wells). This disc offers a look at Wells prior to the release of his incredible “Hoodoo Man Blues.” There is a lot of great material here, including several originals of songs which would become staples in Wells’ performances. The bands backing Junior are very good. If there’s one area I fault this album (besides the fact that it’s not “Hoodoo Man.” But what other album is?) it’s the lack of harp playing. Wells had one of the finest tones ever achieved on the instrument, and there is precious little of his phenomenal vibratos on this disc. That complaint aside, this is definitely Junior Wells and he is definitely in good form as far as the quality of music goes. I recommend it, but know that this is not Junior Wells the harmonica player. This is Junior Wells the singer.
By Alex Harpskier.
**
01. Two Headed Woman 2:41
02. Lovey Dovey Lovey One 2:12
03. I Could Cry 1957 Version 3:10
04. Cha Cha Cha in Blues 2:22
05. Little by Little 2:33
06. Come On In This House 2:22
07. You Don’t Care 2:20
08. Prison Bars All Around Me 2:28
09. Calling All Blues 2:34
10. Galloping Horses A Lazy Mule 2:34
11. Messin’ With The Kid 2:15
12. You Sure Look Good To Me 2:25
13. So Tired 2:13
14. Universal Rock 2:31
15. I Could Cry 1961 Version 2:53
16. I’m A Stranger 2:41
17. The Things I Do For You 2:19
18. Love Me 2:08
19. It Hurts Me Too (When Things Go Wrong) 2:40
20. I Need Me A Car 2:21
21. I’ll Get You Too 3:04
22. One Day (Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone) 2:51
23. She’s A Sweet One 3:01
24. When The Cat’s Gone The Mice Play 2:20
**

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Buddy GUY and Junior WELLS – Alone and Acoustic 1991

Posted in BLUES, Buddy GUY, Junior WELLS on November 24, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Buddy GUY and Junior WELLS – Alone and Acoustic 1991

Blues

This CD is simply outstanding. Originally released in 1981, it features blues greats Buddy Guy and Junior Wells unplugged. Two men, one day in Paris, one acoustic guitar and one harmonica with each sharing the vocal duties. While the material is not new it is performed with such individuality and conviction that other interpretations of this same material pales in comparison. There are 15 songs arranged into an hours worth of deep south acoustic blues. This has got to be one of Alligators finest releases and is a must have for any fan of these two giants, fans of acoustic blues and fans of the blues period.
**
The magical synergy of Junior Wells and Buddy Guy was apparent in “Hoodoo Man Blues”, recorded before Buddy Guy was well known. Junior Wells’ subsequent solo works, while workmanlike, have never achieved the same pinnacle (e.g., Come On Into This House). With this joint effort, that synergy is back.
It is very interesting to see (hear) the pair together 30 years after that first work together. The undefinable synergy is still there – Is it the way Buddy sets up a background for Junior’s vocals or harmonica? Or is it the way that Junior defers to Buddys guitar? However, with age, the two interact more sensitively and with a polish – No, a burnished patina – that makes this work a mellower version of their earlier work together. Both performers are secure in their careers and accomplishments and this results in a very special and mature interaction between them.
From the folk blues of Big Boat to the John Lee Hooker homage in Boogie Chillen, the pairing in “Alone and Acoustic” is seamless – You can almost see one person playing the guitar and harmonica while singing.
Caution: As the title suggests, this is not the Buddy Guy that Jimi Hendrix studied. For those of us who grew up with the Eric Clapton of John Mayall (also Cream, Blind Faith) Canned Heat, and Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac as our introduction to the blues (along with Hendrix’s ‘Red House’) in the late 60’s, this could be a disappointment. But to me the CD is not. It is a great pleasure, with the lack of other instruments a sort of relief. No, for those of us of that era, this is more like the ‘Hot Tuna’ record (remember records?) after lots of electric music from Jefferson Airplane, Led Zepplin, Cream, Iron Butterfly, etc… clean and unpretentious.
And in ‘Big Boat’ we hear something like one of my favorites from Hoodoo Man, Buddy’s sharp “Ow!” during Junior’s first harmonica solo in ‘Early in the Morning’. And Buddy sings on this one, too! (Hoodoo Man is one of the classic blues albums – Do yourself a favor and get it if you don’t have it!)
By  Henry Kerfoot.
**
One of the best duos in the history of the blues, guitarist Buddy Guy and harmonica player Junior Wells made several recordings together over the decades, but this one is unique in their discography. Recorded in the midst of a 1981 European tour, Guy and Wells took a break from their backing musicians and amps to cut this spontaneous, all-acoustic set. The results stand in stark contrast to the hot-and-heavy Chicago blues the duo is known for. Instead, 1981’s ALONE & ACOUSTIC is relaxed and personal, with an intimate, back-porch feel.
Guy switches between six- and 12-string guitars, and lays down rootsy acoustic rhythms for Wells’s keening harmonica lines. The two share vocal duties, spinning through a handful of originals (including Guy’s “Give Me My Coat and Shoes” and Wells’s “Wrong Doing Woman”), songs by John Lee Hooker (“Boogie Chillen”) and Muddy Waters (“My Home’s in the Delta”), as well as some nods to traditional tunes (“Catfish Blues”). In fact, the performances here pay homage to the rural, country-blues roots these modern bluesmen share. Originally released only in France, ALONE & ACOUSTIC was reissued by Alligator Records in 1991 with five bonus tracks.
This reissue includes 5 previously unreleased songs.
**
Buddy Guy- Electric Guitar, Vocals, 12-string Guitar
Junior Wells- Harmonica, Vocals
**
01. Give Me My Coat And Shoes 3:49
02. Big Boat (Buddy and Junior’s Thing) 5:13
03. Sweet Black Girl 3:32
04. Diggin’ My Potatoes 4:28
05. Don’t Leave Me 3:43
06. Rollin’ and Tumblin’ 4:33
07. I’m In The Mood 3:22
08. High Heel Sneakers 4:56
09. Wrong Doing Woman 3:00
10. Cut You Loose 4:03
11. Sally Mae 2:30
12. Catfish Blues 3:33
13. My Home’s In The Delta 3:05
14. Boogie Chillen 4:00
15. Baby What You Want Me To Do/That’s Allright 5:44
**

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Buddy GUY & Junior WELLS – Last Time Around-Live At Legegends 1993

Posted in BLUES, Buddy GUY, Junior WELLS on November 15, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Buddy GUY & Junior WELLS – Last Time Around-Live At Legegends 1993

Blues

Last Time Around, Live At Legends is a fitting farewell to the late, great Junior Wells and his partnership, friendship and kinship with Buddy Guy that lasted decades. The album is a historic release in many ways. It reunites two blues legends who began their unique association in the 1950s. The album was recorded live in March 1993 at Buddy Guy’s world-famous Chicago blues mecca Legends, and it’s an acoustic document of many classic songs that made both Wells and Guy legends in their own right, such as “She’s Alright” and “I’ve Been There,” along with other classic blues standards such as “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Key to the Highway,” all delivered with a looseness and power that define both Guy and Wells. It also marks the last time the two ever played together.
By Matthew Greenwald.
**
This in-concert CD caps Buddy Guy’s partnership with harp hero Junior Wells, who died of lymphoma in January 1998. The set, taped five years earlier at Guy’s Chicago nightclub, is an unabashedly sentimental journey back to their roots. It’s just Guy and Wells on acoustic guitar and harmonica, cutting up and playing their own standards like Guy’s “You Better Watch Yourself” and Wells’s signature “Hoodoo Man,” as well as classics by such influences as Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Jimmy Rogers, and even Ray Charles. Guy’s focused intensity is offset by Wells’s good-natured clowning, yet the performance never sacrifices its strong musicality.
By Ted Drozdowski.
**
The sound is excellent on this 1998 live album, and Buddy Guy and the late, great Junior Wells both lay down some of their best vocal performances on record.

Committed to tape in March, 1993, “Last Time Around – Live At Legends” documents the very last time Guy and Wells took the stage together. The arrangements are completely bare-bones, just Buddy Guy’s Gibson guitar and Junior Wells’ chromatic harp, but the performances are full of power and authority, and Guy’s expressive tenor voice and Junior Wells’ rougher baritone blend smoothly on songs like “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “What I’d Say”.
Virtually every song is a highlight, actually…Junior Wells plays muscular, amplified harp behind Guy’s lead vocal on “Key To The Highway” and “Oh Baby”, and takes the lead on “Hoodoo Man Blues”, and the duo share lead vocal duties on a great medley of songs from Jimmy Reed’s good-natured repertoire of blues n’ boogie, as well as a cover of Jimmy Rogers’ “That’s All Right”.

This is one great slice of classic, acoustic blues which would look at home on any real blues fan’s shelf.
I mean, why do we need synthesizers and computer sampling when two middle-aged men can sit down with just a harmonica and an acoustic guitar and make it sound this good?
By Docendo Discimus.
**
They last performed together in 1993, half a decade before Wells died, and they fit like an old pair of shoes, picking up on cues that haven’t even been delivered yet. The first “What’d I Say,” a highlight twice, takes off on the clicks, moans, squeals, hoots, and chicken squawks Wells cuts into Guy’s vocal, and again and again classic titles from their book and everyone else’s are adjusted to accommodate classic lines from the universe of blues readymades. Take this as a passport to that universe, but don’t expect anyone to sell you a map.
**
Buddy Guy- Guitar, Vocals
Junior Wells- Harmonica, Vocals
**
01. Seeds of Reed: Big Boss Man, Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby, I’m The Man Down There 4:24
02. That’s All Right 3:50
03. She’s All Right, Still A Fool 5:40
04. Hoochie Coochie Man 5:42
05. What I’d Say (It’s All Right)
06. Key to the Highway 4:35
07. I’ve Been There 8:40
08. Feelin’ Good, What I’d Say 4:03
09. Oh Baby, You Better Watch Yourself 6:32
10. Hoodoo Man Blues 3:13
**

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