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The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection: His Best

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With his Chess recordings Little Walter single-handedly established a new musical vocabulary for the harmonica in the context of the electric blues band. As a youth he studied under rural harmonica masters like Sonny Boy Williamson, but by the time he reached Chicago he had entirely reconfigured his playing style to suit the earthshaking volume of the amplified bands that played along 47th Street. Though Little Walter cut his teeth as a session player on sides by Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and others, his solo sides show him in an entirely new light, as an accomplished blues singer in addition to an undeniable virtuoso on his instrument. The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection assembles twenty of Little Walter’s finest sides and features some of Chicago’s most accomplished blues players, amongst them Willie Dixon and even Bo Diddley, who lends his trademark rumble to the great “Rollercoaster.” This collection is beyond essential, and the material here easily measures up to anything released on Chess during the label’s mid-‘50s heyday.

Customer Reviews

Harmonica Genius

If you wan't to hear THE source of modern blues harp, this is it. Little Walter wrote the book, and his work with Muddy Waters was extraordinary. "Last Night" features his greatest solo, just wailing and wailing the blues. It doesn't get any better! Peace.

He Makes the Harmonica Sing

When I first got a Little Walter album, the reviewer said about his playing: "Little Walter plays the harmonica with all the flourish of a horn player." And that about says it for me. Little Walter got his name from "Big Walter Horton" who he learned from and who also did extraordinary work with Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, etc. . . "Big Walter" was often incapacitated and so Little Walter would get called into the session instead. If you listen to Big Walter, you might hear the standard that was set before Little Walter. Little Walter is my favorite by far, though. He took the instrument to an entirely new level without losing any of the feeling. And the song "Sad Hours" is really where it's at!


Some of the greatest Blues records ever. Recorded over fifty years ago, My Babe sounds better and grooves harder than anything new and "hip" you're liable to hear.


Born: May 1, 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, soaring and swooping in front of snarling guitars and swinging rhythms perfectly suited to Walter's...
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Top Albums and Songs by Little Walter