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Tip of the Top

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Album Review

Tip of the Top is a loose tribute to William Clarke's mentor, George Harmonica Smith, who taught Clarke many of his tricks. Clarke plays a selection of tracks that were staples in Smith's catalog (including a version of "Hard Times," which features Smith himself), as well as newer songs written in the same style. But what really makes Tip of the Top notable is how William Clarke begins to develop his distinctive, idiosyncratic sound on the record. Unlike his debut Can't You Hear Me Calling, Tip of the Top explores some new sounds, which would come to fruition in his next few albums.


Born: 29 March 1951 in Inglewood, CA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

The heir apparent to Chicago's legacy of amplified blues harmonica, William Clarke was the first original new voice on his instrument to come along in quite some time; he became a sensation in blues circles during the late '80s and early '90s, stopped short by an untimely death in 1996. A pupil and devotee of George Harmonica Smith, Clarke was a technical virtuoso and master of both the diatonic harp and the more difficult chromatic harp (the signature instrument of both Smith and Little Walter)....
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Tip of the Top, William Clarke
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