Tuesday, February 28, 2006

PoohsDay Blues: Big Boys

There's a certain, archetypical, electric bluesman. The large, gravel-throated, sweaty performer who'se working hard for you, so by god you work hard for him. Generally speaking, these guys are my favorites, and in honor of Fat Tuesday this week's ten are from the Blues Big Boys.

  1. "Moanin' at Midnight" - Howlin' Wolf. The Archetype's archetype. Chester Burnett was by all accounts 300 pounds of fury on stage. For setting a mood of paranoia, it's something of a toss up between the opening of this song and that of The Stone's "Paint It Black"
  2. "I Ain't Superstitious" - Willie Dixon. One of the early guys to get it, in that the money to be made was not in performing but in producing and writing. One of the real impresarios of the early blues.
  3. "Right Place, Wrong Time" - Doctor John. Hey it's Mardi Gras, we have to have a little N'Awlins flair, right?
  4. "Hook" - Blues Traveler. John Popper seems to have gone out of his way to play the role. Probably good for the career, more probably bad for the health.
  5. "Sweet Sixteen" - B.B. King. My favorite is the performance from Kinshasa about halfway through "When We Were Kings. (great film, btw, even if it is something of a hagiography of Ali, overlooking some of the ugly things he did, such as his treatment of Frazier, and worse his visciousness against Floyd Patterson and especially the "What's my Name" fight with Ernie Terrell.
  6. "Mannish Boy (psychadelic)" - McKinley Morganfield, though his friends called him Muddy. Electric Mud is an amazing, if deeply flawed album. In many ways, Muddy was Jimi before Jimi was Jimi, though this album was obviously inspired by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
  7. "Soul Man" - Blues Brothers. John Belushi's life is so the blues. Plus, these guys were a damn good band absent the SNL connection.
  8. "Born Under a Bad Sign" - Albert King. I may have mentioned it before, but this is probably my single favorite blues recording ever. The simple scale riff plus King's throaty, phleghmy even singing is what it's all about, if you ask me.
  9. "I Can't Be Satisfied" - Muddy, again. Some people are so nice, you have to name them twice, just like
  10. "Killing Floor" - The Wolf. As he said, built for comfort, he ain't built for speed. Naturally, I can relate.

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