Sunday, December 2, 2007

Chicago Blues

I was reading about Elvis and it occurred to me that his greatest accomplishment in the history of music was pushing all the Black recording artists out of the Memphis market and up to Chicago. Now, this might sound crazy but let me go on. Before Elvis had his first hit at Sun Records with Mr. Sam Phillips, Sun was in the business of recording Black artists -see, Mr. Phillips had a penchant for recording real R&B even though he wasn't making much money doing it. There was no money because those records weren't played on Rock radio, unless of course they were covered by the acceptable White artists. So, before Elvis recorded at Sun, it was known as the place where Howlin' Wolf, James Cotton and Elmore James, amongst others, had been recording. The financial success that Sun Records experienced due to Elvis recording a few hits there caused Mr. Phillips to reconsider his passion for real R&B - needless to say he dropped all his Black artists and focused solely on White artists. The result was two-fold -1st- Sun attracted the likes of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash (not so bad) -2nd- the barren market for Black artists sent all the local bluesmen up North to Chicago where they hooked up with the Chicago bar blues scene led by Muddy Waters ... blues as we know it today wouldn't be without this migration. So, we get to Elmore James, one of those very migrants who landed in Chicago - the haven for Black artists trying to make a living in the blues. If you aren't familiar with what Chicago bar blues sounds like let me say this: The style is regarded for being loud and heavily amplified stomping blues that induces hollering. Mr. James can be heard hollering his heart out on "So Unkind", "Anna Lee", "Standing at the Crossroads" and these are just some of the stand out tracks. If Elmore James gets you shaking, considering looking into Chess Records - it's where all the hip-cats were signed. Oh, and remember to thank Elvis.

I do have the Chess Records 15 CD Box Set that I will raid at another time.

Elmore James - Dust My Broom

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