Most baby boomers attracted to the blues initially were introduced to the genre via albums containing vintage recordings of artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and John Lee Hooker, to name just a few.
However, some more enterprising listeners dug deeper via the cut-out bins in the local record departments and by frequenting black neighborhood record shops. Lo and behold, they discovered there still was a vibrant blues scene that existed on 45rpms.
The major and larger independent labels had long ago kicked the blues to the curb, but myriad smaller indies picked up the torch and continued to keep the music viable.
This is a selection of some material issued from that era. Even in blues circles there are few familiar names or songs here.
The opener, Freddy Robinson’s “The Creeper” sets the stage. Blues in format, it incorporates modern instrumentation. Popping basses, wah-wah pedals, hurried drumming and hip arrangements can be heard throughout, as artists and producers strove to keep up with the times.
However, some of the better tracks here sound like they could have been recorded a decade or so earlier. Cases in point are Finis Tasby’s two tracks and Larry Davis’ “You Upset Me Baby,” as both artists capture B.B. King’s early style.
Speaking of B.B., Ray Agee’s minor-keyed “It’s Hard to Explain” recalls his signature “The Thrill Is Gone.”
Equally haunting is Big Daddy Rucker’s (now there’s a name) “He Made You Mine.” Sounding like a poor man’s Albert King, Smokey Wilson’s explosive “Go Go Train” will put a smile on your face.
Like King (probably the most popular blues artist in Black America during the era), he’s on board with the instrumental “Cold Sweat,” technically not blues, but he sure plays the hell out of that Flying V.
In format, several tracks here aren’t blues, as one can hear the influence of Tyrone Davis, Johnnie Taylor and Joe Simon throughout.
Not a desert-island disc (I’d have added more Southern players, as this 20-track CD is West Coast loaded), but not a bad listen if you don’t have access to the jukebox at Joe’s House of Blues.