As you know, you can’t get to rock ‘n’ roll without passing through the blues first. Just ask Eric Clapton and Keith Richards about their role models. All those guys up in Chicago who plugged in and started to wail, guys like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon. All those guys who came out of the Mississippi Delta. Well, just before all that happened, there was this legendary recording session that took place at a radio station outside the small Delta town of Leland, Mississippi. The story goes that one night, three local bluesmen, Blind Buddy Cotton, Crippled Willie Jefferson, and Crazy Earl Tate made a recording under mysterious circumstances, and possibly at gunpoint. Depending on who’s telling the story, a guy named Pigfoot Morgan might have played with them that night, but no one seems to know for sure. But one thing we do know is that a man by the name of Hamp Doogan got killed that night, just like in the Bob Dylan song, right out there on Highway 61. Another thing we know for sure is that Pigfoot Morgan got hauled off to Parchman Farm for the murder, though his guilt remains in doubt.
Anyway, the tapes from the radio station disappeared and for the last sixty years, blues scholars have been looking for them. They’re known as the Blind, Crippled, and Crazy sessions, supposed to be some of the best blues ever recorded. A private detective I know, guy named Rick Shannon, got hired to find the guy who produced the sessions, a man by the name of R. Tucker Woolfolk. But the day after Rick found him, Woolfolk was murdered. And a week later, so was the engineer from that session, an old guy name of Lamar Suggs. Neither murder has been solved. It’s a mystery you might call Highway 61 Resurfaced. Well, I wish I was here to play those tapes but they’re still out there, waiting to be found. Meanwhile, today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl will have to do. To quote Van Morrison, “Hearing the blues changed my life.” So, from the Way Back Studios, let’s hear some.
|Shake Your Money Maker
|I’m Tore Down
|Buddy Guy and Junior Wells
|Dirty Mother For Ya
|John Lee Hooker
|2120 South Michigan Avenue
|Who’s Been Talking?
A man whose voice has been compared to the sound of heavy machinery operating on a gravel road, that was Chester Arthur Burnett, who showed good show business instincts when he decided that Howlin’ Wolf would be a better stage name. That was from the infamous London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions, which includes Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Steve Winwood, and others. The album wasn’t without its faults, but if you skip over a few rough spots, you’ll find gems like the one we just heard, “Who’s Been Talking?” That was one of three Eric Clapton-related projects in that set. In the middle of all that we heard “Dirty Mother for Ya” from the album Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play the Blues, a record Clapton co-produced and played on. The album came about in 1970 when Buddy Guy and Junior Wells were opening for the Rolling Stones on a tour. During a three night stand in Paris, Eric dropped by, ran into Ahmet Ertegun, and told Ahmet he should sign the two. Ahmet said he would if Eric agreed to produce the first record, and the deal was struck.
Elsewhere in the set, the first all blues album Clapton released, From The Cradle, we heard “I’m Tore Down.” Speaking of the Stones, that instrumental we heard was called “2120 South Michigan Avenue” which was the address for Chess Records in Chicago where the track was recorded. Before the Stones, John Lee Hooker doing “Dimples” which we played off the original VeeJay vinyl. And after the Stones, the great Albert King did “Crosscut Saw.” We also heard B.B. King of the Blues doing “Caledonia,” and at the top, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band covered the Elmore James classic “Shake Your Money Maker” in the Way Back Studios. We’d appreciate it. By the way, if you want to see the set lists for any of the shows, drop by my website and poke around till you find what you’re looking for. And if you don’t find it, send me an email and I’ll find it for you. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, and.I’ll be back before you know it with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl right here in the Deep Tracks.