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Calling All Blues

Junior Wells

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Album Review

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.

Biography

Born: 09 December 1934 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

He was one bad dude, strutting across the stage like a harp-toting gangster, mesmerizing the crowd with his tough-guy antics and rib-sticking Chicago blues attack. Amazingly, Junior Wells kept at precisely this sort of thing for over 40 years; he was an active performer from the dawn of the '50s until his death in the late '90s. Born in Memphis, Wells learned his earliest harp licks from another future legend, Little Junior Parker, before he came to Chicago at age 12. In 1950, the teenager passed...
Full bio