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The Climax Chicago Blues Band

The Climax Chicago Blues Band

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Album Review

The Climax Chicago Blues Band were arguably the epiphany of the British beat movement or, at the very least, its epitaph. In any case, the group's 1968 debut self-titled album was pretty much the last gasp of a scene swiftly mutating into new genres entirely — prog rock, space rock, hard rock and psychedelia among them. But out of this musical maelstrom popped the Climax Blues Band (they promptly dropped "Chicago" from their moniker soon after their album was released), birthed from the remnants of the little noticed Beat era band Hipster Image, and its equally unheralded successor the Gospel Truth. Still blues to the core, half their album was comprised of covers, penned or performed by the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson II, Howlin' Wolf, Big Bill Broonzy, and Jimmy Reed, while their originals were much in the same vein.

Inevitably, it was the superb interplay between guitarists Peter Haycock and Derek Holt that elicited the most comment at the time, further excited by 17-year-old Haycock looking much younger than his actual age (rumors swept the scene that he was only 13). Colin Cooper's vocals were rarely as impressive, but hand him his harmonica and he could occasionally even upstage the axemen. The bottom end equalled the top with swaggering, walking basslines — check out Richard Jones fabulous work on "How Many More Years" — and the stunning drumming throughout the whole album. Climax Chicago Blues Band was carefully produced by Chris Thomas, but the remastering heightens the guitars to the rhythm section's disadvantage, so turn up your bass way up to get the best effect. Keyboardist Art Wood's contributions were also downplayed at the time, and in this reissued mix, a pity, because his playing is phenomenal across this set. A purist at heart, but an extremely versatile stylist, from boogie to blues to trad jazz, Wood revisits the past across this set, then heralds in the new age with the album's final track, the organ drenched "And Lonely"; but be sure to check out his jaunty cover of "The Entertainer," which is included as a bonus track here. The booklet tells the band's complete tale, following the dramatic shifts in sound and personnel that followed this album, and annotates all of the tracks. A welcome reissue from a band that would later find fame with a very different sound, but here we find them in all their trad glory.

Customer Reviews

One of the last great Brit Blues albums

Peter Haycock burns on guitar, especially on the old Rice Miller chestnut "Don't Start Me Talkin'" , "Twenty Past One", and the extended slow blues cut "and Lonely". "Insurance" is notable classic. All in all, really nice production and engineering on this often neglected UK blues favorite. At this stage, they were still exhibiting the patented Marquee Club blues formula of such similar and seminal groups as Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Ten Years After, Savoy Brown, and the like. However, as Climax Blues Band they were quick to develop their own own unique take on blues based British rock.

Underrated

I am so sad nobody knows about these guys, lucky my parents had their CD because that's how I discovered them

The Climax Chicago Blues Band, The Climax Chicago Blues Band
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Customer Ratings