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The Magic Sam Legacy

Magic Sam

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Album Review

The 13 tracks on Magic Sam Legacy (1997) are culled from material initially discarded from his two Delmark studio LPs West Side Soul (1967) and Black Magic (1968). The principal caveat being the John Lee Hooker inspired "I Feel So Good" — liberally copping Hooker's "Boogie Chillun" — and the spirited instrumental "Lookin' Good," both of which date back to 1966. The mid-tempo "Walkin' by Myself" and the indispensable "Hoochie Coochie Man" are among the best of the West Side Soul related numbers. Shakey Jake (harmonica) blows powerful harp, perfectly complementing Magic Sam's (guitar/vocals) nimble fretwork. The guitarist provides blistering yet purposeful interjections setting the standard in terms of emotive Westside Chicago blues. "That Ain't It" is an exceedingly soulful selection revealing Sam's R&B leanings and underrated vocal prowess. "I Just Want a Little Bit" swings just as solidly as the Black Magic version, with this rendering sporting a slightly looser reading. The ringing tremolo effect on "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" makes for one of the more interesting outtakes, sporting a few tasty runs from the legendary Lafayette Leake (piano). His style recalls earlier contributions as a staff musician for Chess Records, where he played a significant role on sessions from Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Howlin' Wolf among others. The free-form nature of "Blues for Odie Payne" — the drummer on over half the material presented here — gives not only Sam a perfect platform for his string-bending and fiery fretboard antics, but likewise allows Eddie Shaw (tenor sax) to interpolate some equally clever melodic support. As the recorded legacy of Magic Sam was tragically curtailed when he passed in 1969 at the age of 32, any and all titles featuring Sam as a leader could be considered essential. While recent converts might be best advised to start with either West Side Soul or Black Magic, Magic Sam Legacy (1997) is a perfect companion volume, serving artist and enthusiast exceptionally well.

Biography

Born: 14 February 1937 in Grenada, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s

No blues guitarist better represented the adventurous modern sound of Chicago's West side more proudly than Sam Maghett. He died tragically young (at age 32 of a heart attack), just as he was on the brink of climbing the ladder to legitimate stardom, but Magic Sam left behind a thick legacy of...
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The Magic Sam Legacy, Magic Sam
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