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Friday, December 12, 2014

Delmark Records artist: Junior Wells - Southside Blues Jam - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Southside Blues Jam, by Junior Wells and it's great! This is another in a series of reissues from Delmark with in this case 6 additional tracks. This release was recorded in December '69-January '70 at Theresa's Blues Bar and one could only have wished to be at one of these shows! Opening with Sonny Boy Williamson's Stop Breaking Down, Spann hits the first key and Wells unleashes that monster voice. It's really great to hear this band featuring the kings of Chicago blues (Wells, Guy, Myers, Spann, Earnest Johnson and Fred Bellow). Wells has such control and composure with Spann who is one of my personal favorites. Excellent! I Could Have Had Religion is up next and Spann is right there! This track comes and goes so quickly but Spann in crystal clear and Wells has the blues in the palm of his hand. Willie Dixon's Just Make Love To Me (I Just Wanna Make Love To You) is right down in the groove and Spann is stellar. Wells really digs down and Buddy is heard scampering over the vocals with his guitar riffs. Spann steps out with a great intro on one of my favorites, Lend Me Your Love. Wells' vocals are focused and direct and Otis really kicks it on an extended solo. Guy plays some of his notorious riffs, rough and raw. An almost perfect track. On Morganfield's Long Distance Call, Wells pulls out the harp and quietly coaxes riffs from Spann and Guy. Excellent! On Williamson's In My Younger Days, Wells plays a cool intro and Spann keeps a solid piano base under Wells' vocals. Of course a perfect track for Wells to blow it out, that he does and a full out romp starts with Louis Myers adding really nice guitar riffs to the mix. Guy takes the mic on Trouble Don't Last and consequently adds more of his own distinctive guitar riffs in echo to his own vocals. It is a such a great thing to hear Guy and Spann together with Guy singing and Wells on harp. Guy takes a bit more of an extended solo on this track as well. Excellent! The next 7 tracks weren't a part of the original release and are a terrific bonus here. It's Too Late Brother cooks with Wells riding high on vocal and terrific harp work. Myers is just perfect on guitar on this track with an almost jazz attack and Spann plays low on the keyboard creating a super dynamic. At over 6 minutes, this is a cool jam. Warmin' Up is a cool little clip of Spann and Guy jamming. At only about a minute long, a well worthy addition with hot riffs! Love My Baby has a strong Morganfield feel and Guy cuts loose nicely on this track. Spann's signature is ever present and these are not just extras...these tracks are great! An alternate take on I Could Have Had Religion is up next and Wells really sings over the top. At over 7 minutes this turns into a super jam with Wells vocal improv, Spann, Guy, Below and Johnson. Morganfield's Rock Me is up next and Wells sets a really nice groove. Spann's signature is so pure and evident that you wonder how anyone ever listened to Chicago blues without him. Wells rips loose on his harp against a fairly quiet background creating a super dynamic. Got To Play The Blues is a seven plus minute track with a funky blues feel. Myers holds down the guitar spot on this track and Spann and Wells trade riffs. This is an excellent release of materials for both enthusiasts and seasoned listeners. There is also included a 16 page liner notes and super photos from Bob Koester. Also of note is that this is the final studio recording of Spann.

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