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100 Blues Harmonica Classics

Little Walter

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Album Review

The high rating is for the music. Served in a portion as generous as one could typically fit over four slabs of vinyl, these vintage recordings of Chicago blues cannot be denied. "Juke," "Flying Saucer," "Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights."..these are all out and out classics of urban blues, delivered with zest and zeal by an artist who matched flawless and flamboyant harmonica technique and a devastating amplified sound with a vocal style that was mischievous to the point of irritating Rumpelstiltskin. His musical company here is the cream of the crop, killer players all. The interplay between guitars and harmonica is fantastic by itself, while the antics of the rhythm section are a subject for extensive study as well. As a bandleader, Little Walter was an inventive character, meaning that each track has something fresh about its arrangement, often just a little touch or sometimes an entire groove that with that magic combination of familiarity and surprise. There isn't a bum track on this collection, which is why it didn't matter that the tracks on the third and fourth sides of the collection were shuffled like a deck of cards for the '80s version of this two-fer repackage, about which the following competition can be launched: Which of the two-record set covers used for the Boss Blues Harmonica sets is uglier? Is it the '70s version, in which a heavy soaking of toilet-bowl blue coloring fails to hide the fact that almost the entire back cover is taken up with a drawing of a drum set? Or was it the '80s set, featuring a crude drawing of someone who doesn't look at all like Little Walter, standing in front of a bar in what looks like the middle of a vacant field. The earlier set didn't bother to provide a clear listing of session men and discographical information.

Biography

Born: 01 May 1930 in Marksville, LA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s

Who's the king of all post-war blues harpists, Chicago division or otherwise? Why, the virtuosic Little Walter, without a solitary doubt. The fiery harmonica wizard took the humble mouth organ in dazzling amplified directions that were unimaginable prior to his ascendancy. His daring instrumental innovations were so fresh, startling, and ahead of their time that they sometimes sported a jazz sensibility,...
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