The raw immediacy and tight instrumental attack of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's self-titled debut album were startling and impressive in 1965, but the following year, the group significantly upped the ante with its second LP, East-West. The debut showed that Butterfield and his bandmates could cut tough, authentic blues (not a given for an integrated band during the era in which fans were still debating if a white boy could play the blues) with the energy of rock & roll, but East-West was a far more ambitious set, with the band showing an effective command of jazz, Indian raga, and garagey proto-psychedelia as well as razor-sharp electric blues…
Led by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Donnie "Mr. Downchild" Walsh, the Downchild Blues Band is the premier blues band in Canada. Their saxophone-driven jump blues provided a major inspiration for Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi's Blues Brothers, who included Walsh's tunes, "Everything I Need (Almost)" and "Shotgun Blues," on their 1978 debut album, Briefcase Full of Blues. Formed in 1969 by Walsh and his brother, Richard "Hock" Walsh, the Downchild Blues Band endured continuous personnel turnover. More than 18 musicians came and went, including Gene Taylor, who went on to play with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Kenny Neal, who joined after leaving the employ of Buddy Guy and relocating to Toronto.
Waters' The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folk Blues, combined here onto one CD, were not exactly random collections of tracks – the quality was too consistently high for them to just have been picked out of a hat. Still, it was a pretty arbitrary grouping of items that he recorded between 1947 and 1964. In fact, they hail from throughout his whole stint at Chess, virtually; at the time these albums were first issued, though, all of the material on More Real Folk Blues was from the late '40s and early '50s. They didn't exactly concentrate on his most well-known songs, but they didn't entirely neglect them either, including "Mannish Boy," "Walking Thru the Park," "The Same Thing," "Rollin' & Tumblin' Part One," "She's Alright," and "Honey Bee," amongst somewhat more obscure selections. So ultimately, this disc's usefulness depends on your fussiness as a collector – if it's the only Waters you ever pick up, you'll still have a good idea of his greatness, and if you don't mind getting some tracks you might already have on more avowedly best-of sets, you'll probably hear some stuff you don't already have in your collection.
Two classic Hooker LPs, all digitally re-mastered, 22 solid slabs of dark, leathery, brooding nostalgia. This is the electric blues at its very roots. If there’s still anyone out there reading this magazine who hasn’t at least one Hooker album in their collection, then you’re still a long way from qualifying as a blues aficionado. So this is a good place to start. This stripped-bare, one man and a growling electric guitar (on most tracks) music is the stuff those guys who fled the south for the auto production lines in the north used to listen to.