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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Willie Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Willie Johnson. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2015

Vizztone Label Group artist: Kevin Selfe - Buy My Soul Back - New release review

I just received the newest release, Buy My Soul Back, from Kevin Selfe and it really gets down. Opening with rockin' blues track, Picking Empty Pockets, Selfe leads the way on vocal and guitar. His clever turnaround riffs and wild solo is highlighted by a super sax solo by Peter Moss and supported by Allen Markel on bass, James Pace on organ, Steve Kerin on piano and Jimi Bott on drums. Great opener. Chicago style blues shuffle, Fixed It Til It's Broke, features Mitch Kashmar with some great harp work and a great bass lead by Willie J. Campbell. Title track, Buy My Soul Back, has a R&B feel with solid horn backing from Joe McCarthy on trumpet, Chris Mercer on tenor sax and Brad Ulrich on bari sax. Pace provides a nice bed of organ and Selfe handles the lead vocals nicely, backed by Lisa Mann and also lays in some really nicely styled guitar riffs giving the track a bit of a sting. Digging My Own Grave has a old blues feel with a grungy blues guitar riff under the driving vocal and drums. Selfe cuts loose with some tasty slide guitar riffs but still remains in the primitive blues style. Very nice. Bluesy ballad, All Partied Out, has definite radio clues with a catchy melody and solid horn backing. Selfe does cut loose with a real nice guitar stinger of a solo giving the track a definite tension. Very nice! Rocker, Keep Pushing Or Die Trying, is driven by Allen Markel on bass and features some real nice key work from Kerin on piano as well as a country influenced guitar solo by Selfe. Blues funk, Albert King style is up next on Bluesman Without The Blues. With funky guitar riffs and horns this track really moves. Selfe takes a real nice guitar lead in support to Sugaray Rayford on lead vocal. This is an excellent track and Bott really shines on this track. Every once in a while there is a track that I just don't like and this next one is it. I may be one of the only humans on the planet that doesn't love Bruce Springsteen but there it is. His I'm On Fire is next and Selfe does an interesting alteration to it making it sound a bit less processed and with harp compliments of Kashmar and the more country acoustic guitar treatment by Selfe, it has a less pop and more wholesome feel. Boogie track, Don't Tear Me Down, has a real nice upbeat accent giving it a bit of a lope. Gene Taylor's piano work nicely accents a really soulful sax solo. Keeping the track well grounded, Selfe lays in some stylized, double stop accented, guitar lines complimented by Mercer and Ulrich on sax. Very nice! Double Dipping has a easy country feel with country blues guitar riffs and simple backing by Campbell on bass, Taylor on piano,Bott on drums and Moss on Bari. Virginia Farm has a really basic rural blues feel with only Selfe accompanying his on vocal on acoustic slide guitar. Very cool! Texas style shuffle, Pig Pickin' is a particularly cool instrumental with Campbell on bass, Bott on drums, Pace on organ and Selfe on guitar. Almost breaking into a jazz feel Pace and Selfe each take nice solo's making this one of my favorite tracks on the release. Wrapping the release is Starting Up At The Bottom, a revival style track featuring Selfe on lead vocal and guitar, Kerin on piano, Markel on bass and Bott on drums. Pace takes a cool organ solo and Lisa Mann's backing vocals add substantially to the overall spiritual feel of the track. Great closer.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mr Highway Man - Willie Johnson with Howlin' Wolf

Willie Johnson (March 4, 1923 – February 26, 1995) was an American electric blues guitarist. He is best known as the principal guitarist in Howlin' Wolf's band from 1948 to 1953. His raucous, distorted guitar playing features on Howlin' Wolf's Memphis recordings of 1951–3, including the hit song "How Many More Years" (recorded May 1951). His early use of distortion marks him out as one of the pioneers of the electric guitar. Robert Palmer has also cited him as the originator of the power chord, in reference to his guitar playing on "How Many More Years". His guitar work is considered a distant ancestor of heavy metal music. Willie Lee Johnson was born in Senatobia, Mississippi. As the guitarist in the first band led by Howlin' Wolf, Johnson appeared on most of Wolf's recordings between 1951 and 1953, providing the slightly jazzy yet raucous guitar sound that was the signature of all of Wolf's Memphis recordings. Johnson also performed and recorded with other blues artists in the Memphis area, including pianist Willie Love, Willie Nix, Junior Parker, Roscoe Gordon, Bobby "Blue" Bland and others. When Wolf moved to Chicago in around 1953, he could not convince Johnson to join him. Johnson stayed on in Memphis for several years, playing on a number of sessions for Sun Records, including a 1955 collaboration with vocalist Sammy Lewis, "I Feel So Worried", released under the name Sammy Lewis with Willie Johnson. By the time Johnson relocated to Chicago, Wolf had already hired guitarist Hubert Sumlin as a permanent replacement. James Cotton later recalled that Wolf replaced Johnson because of his heavy drinking. Johnson occasionally performed and recorded with Howlin' Wolf after settling in Chicago, and also played briefly in the band of Muddy Waters, as well as a number of other local Chicago blues musicians, including J. T. Brown, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He made his living mainly outside of music for the rest of his life, only occasionally sitting in with the bands of his old friends around Chicago. His final recordings were made for Earwig Music in Chicago in the early 1990s. Willie Johnson died in Chicago on February 26, 1995

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Feel So Worried - Sammy Lewis and Willie Johnson


The productive and all too brief meeting between vocalist / harmonica player Sammy Lewis and guitarist Willie Johnson produced one of the best blues issued by Sun Records. In the eyes of many collectors and blues fans - including this writer - there is no finer blues side ever cut on Sun than "I Feel So Worried" (Sun 218). Even rockabilly fans who merely tolerate Sun blues are often fond of this record, owing in no small way to Willie Johnson's guitar style. Recorded on March 28, 1955, it was the only time that Lewis and Johnson recorded together. The flipside, So Long Baby Goodbye" is more conventional R&B. The third song from this session, "Gonna Leave You Baby", was obviously not issued by Sam Phillips because the harmonica and guitar are terribly out of tune with each other. Willie Johnson, who was born in Senatobia, Mississippi, on March 24, 1923, played with Howlin' Wolf as far back as 1942. He played on a number of Sun sessions before recording with Lewis. Soon afterwards he headed for Chicago to rejoin Wolf's band where he remained until 1961. Sammy Lewis continued working in Memphis after Johnson moved north, working with an assortment of bands. Lewis was influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter on his Sun recordings. He went on to cut sides for the West Memphis 8th Street label and was thought to have died until he was rediscovered in 1970, still playing in West Memphis.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gettin' Old And Gray - Howlin Wolf w/ Willie Johnson


Willie Johnson (March 4, 1923 – February 26, 1995) was an American blues guitarist. He is best known as the principal guitarist in Howlin' Wolf's band from 1948 to 1953. His raucous, distorted guitar playing features on Howlin' Wolf's Memphis recordings of 1951-3, including the 1951 hit "How Many More Years". His early use of distortion marks him out as one of the pioneers of the electric guitar.
As the guitarist in the first band led by Howlin' Wolf, Johnson appeared on most of Wolf's recordings between 1951 and 1953, providing the slightly jazzy yet raucous guitar sound that was the signature of all of Wolf's Memphis recordings. Johnson also performed and recorded with other blues artists in the Memphis area, including pianist Willie Love, Willie Nix, Junior Parker, Roscoe Gordon, Bobby "Blue" Bland and others.

When Wolf moved to Chicago in around 1953, he could not convince Johnson to join him. Johnson stayed on in Memphis for several years, playing on a number of sessions for Sun Records, including a 1955 collaboration with vocalist Sammy Lewis, "I Feel So Worried", released under the name Sammy Lewis with Willie Johnson. By the time Johnson relocated to Chicago, Wolf had already hired guitarist Hubert Sumlin as a permanent replacement. James Cotton later recalled that Wolf replaced Johnson because of his heavy drinking.

Johnson occasionally performed and recorded with Howlin' Wolf after settling in Chicago, and also played briefly in the band of Muddy Waters, as well as a number of other local Chicago blues musicians, including J. T. Brown, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He made his living mainly outside of music for the rest of his life, only occasionally sitting in with the bands of his old friends around Chicago.

His final recordings were made for Earwig Music in Chicago in the early 1990s.

Willie Johnson died in Chicago on February 26, 1995.
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Monday, February 13, 2012

So Long Baby Goodbye - Sammy Lewis and Willie Johnson


The productive and all too brief meeting between vocalist / harmonica player Sammy Lewis and guitarist Willie Johnson produced one of the best blues issued by Sun Records. In the eyes of many collectors and blues fans - including this writer - there is no finer blues side ever cut on Sun than "I Feel So Worried" (Sun 218). Even rockabilly fans who merely tolerate Sun blues are often fond of this record, owing in no small way to Willie Johnson's guitar style. Recorded on March 28, 1955, it was the only time that Lewis and Johnson recorded together. The flipside, So Long Baby Goodbye" is more conventional R&B. The third song from this session, "Gonna Leave You Baby", was obviously not issued by Sam Phillips because the harmonica and guitar are terribly out of tune with each other. Willie Johnson, who was born in Senatobia, Mississippi, on March 24, 1923, played with Howlin' Wolf as far back as 1942. He played on a number of Sun sessions before recording with Lewis. Soon afterwards he headed for Chicago to rejoin Wolf's band where he remained until 1961. Sammy Lewis continued working in Memphis after Johnson moved north, working with an assortment of bands. Lewis was influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter on his Sun recordings. He went on to cut sides for the West Memphis 8th Street label and was thought to have died until he was rediscovered in 1970, still playing in West Memphis.
Ref "This Is My Story"
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