10 Overlooked 70s blues picks

For those still padding their collections, or seeking blues you can use, take a gander at Rolling Stone’s look back at 1970s blues. 

Among my favorites in this list are the now and then reviews of Bobby Rush’s, 1979 masterpiece Rush Hour

“Bobby Rush…took his decades of his experience and his close study of Howlin’ Wolf and made an urban blues album for his times, incorporating touches of Philadelphia soul, street-corner harmonies, and the rhythms of the pulpit….Rush Hour was the first album in a sequence of ever-stranger “folk-funk” explorations.

What We Said Then:Rush Hour …is outrageous and stunning…Rush Hour is a tribute to resilience–a sign that the lessons Howlin’ Wolf and his peers learned and taught have been neither lost nor forgotten. You’re going to need something like this to get you through the Eighties.” — Dave Marsh, RS 305 (November 29th, 1979)

Here he is in BCI #15 talking Chitlin’ Circuit and New Orleans blues.

Cyrille Aimée – Off the Wall


Music has the ability to lift the spirits during these trying times. And the blues will get you through. For instance, try French vocalist Cyrille Aimée’s jazzy take of the Michael Jackson pop standard “Off the Wall.” The King of Pop ruled R&B and pop in the early 1980’s. And R&B always had B, and so did jazz. Many think jazz and blues were born together in New Orleans during the late 19th Century. And every once in a while a track grabs you with its minimalism, blue note management and knowing delivery and you stop to think about the blues involved. Enjoy Cyrille’s version and let her blues take your mind off your blues.

“We’re All In This Together” – Mavis Staple and Jeff Tweedy

Just when we need a pick-me-up song and a way to help out, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy continues his ongoing and amazing collaboration with Stax-Volt soul music legend Mavis Staples.

“The song speaks to what we’re going through now — everyone is in this together, whether you like it or not,” said Staples. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what race or sex you are, where you live…It’s hit so many people in our country and around the world in such a horrible way and I just hope this song can bring a little light to the darkness. We will get through this but, we’re going to have to do it together. If this song is able to bring any happiness or relief to anyone out there in even the smallest way, I wanted to make sure that I helped to do that.”

Accordingly, proceeds from the track — available to purchase at Bandcamp — will benefit My Block, My Hood, My City, a Chicago non-profit organization helping seniors get access to the essentials needed to fight COVID-19.

George Porter, Jr. – BCI #17

Funky bassist, Runnin’ Pardner and Meterman George Porter, Jr. holds forth on bass, blues, country and how the Meters got their moniker. The early days as Art Neville and the Boys came to an abrupt ending with a game of chance, or perhaps it was all the design of Rock Hall of Fame writer-producer Allen Toussaint. Catch some funky live licks with Mike Lemmler on keyboards and stickman Terrence Houston caught live. They hold down a Monday night residency at the Maple Leaf.

Dan Penn at Chickie Wah Wah 4/24/19


Soul songwriting legend Dan Penn laying down “Memphis Women and Chicken” at Chickie Wah Wah. The elder statesman of white soul has contributed numerous standards such as “Dark End of the Street,” “You Left the Water Running” and “I’m Your Puppet.” In this intimate show, with a tune-hungry audience crowding the stage, the master made every note count.

James Gadson – BCI #14

Soul drumming legend James Gadson graces the Blues Center Interview series with recollections of Ray Charles, The Temptations, Beck and more. He also chimes in on the blues, New Orleans central role in the music and Aaron Neville.

 

Billy Vera – Blues Center Interview #7


Billy discusses New Orleans recordings at Specialty Records by Art Rupe with Lloyd Price, Little Richard, Larry Williams and their effect American teens and DJ Alan Freed. John Lennon and the Beatles took note covering Larry Williams tracks “Bony Maronie,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” “Slowdown” and “Bad Boy.” Billy also talks about writing songs for Rick Nelson, Dolly Parton and Robert Plant. Billy won a Grammy for one of his 300+ liner notes. He has stayed busy in Hollywood, but grew up in the soul scene of Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Find out why Jerry Wexler signs Led Zeppelin and subscribe to catch the whole series!