Junior Wells' Chicago Blues Band
Junior Wells' Chicago Blues Band
Wells was given the liberty to select his own sidemen and track list, without the usual limitation of songs two or three minutes long, and the album that resulted became Delmark's then best-seller, a distinction that had not been surpassed as of 2003. Koester remembers particular complications working with Guy, who was incorrectly believed to be legally entailed with Leonard Chess of Chess Records. Chess approved Guy's participation on the album, but refused to allow Guy's name to be listed in the credits until it was realized that his participation was not contractually disallowed. Guy was, at the time of release, credited as "Friendly Chap", a name proposed by Peter Brown, who later founded Down with the Game Records in the UK, with the explanation that "A buddy is a friend, a guy is a chap". For parts of the session, Guy's guitar amplifier was not working, and his guitar was wired instead through the Leslie speaker of the studio's Hammond organ.
Koester said, "I've always been amazed at how rarely reviewers commented on the guitar-organ tracks". Koester also recalls that 15 minutes of "releasable music", including a duet between Guy and Wells, was lost, with the tapes probably having been used later to record a rehearsal. Wells related to The Chicago Tribune in 1993 that the song from which the title of the album was drawn almost didn't make the album. He had recorded "Hoodoo Man Blues" on a 78 years before, but when the song was presented to radio personnel for possible rotation they had rejected it violently, throwing it on the floor and stomping on it. Wells, too disappointed to want to try again, credits Koester's encouragement with the song's presence on the album. The album, characterized by Little Labels—Big Sound as "blatantly non-commercial", demonstrated to audiences that Chicago Blues could be effectively captured on album. "One of the first to fully document the smoky ambience of a night at a West side nightspot in the superior acoustics of a recording studio", according to Bill Dahl of Allmusic, it popularized Wells, opening doors for him at other, larger studios. But though it was only the first of many successful albums for Wells, it remains among his most acclaimed.
Rolling Stone, in a 1970 review of Wells' later album South Side Blues Jam, declared it "a classic, some of the best blues Chicago has to offer". In 1998, The New York Times described it as among the artist's best recorded works. In 2008, The Times declared it to be Wells' "most celebrated album". In their 2005 biography of Howlin' Wolf, James Segrest and Mark Hoffman make note that it is one of the albums usually cited by critics as "one of the greatest blues albums ever released." Track listing "Snatch It Back and Hold It" (Junior Wells) – 2:53 "Ships on the Ocean" (Wells) – 4:07 "Good Morning Schoolgirl" (Sonny Boy Williamson) – 3:50 "Hound Dog" (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) – 2:12 "In the Wee Wee Hours" (Junior Wells) – 3:42 "Hey Lawdy Mama" (uncredited - composition rights typically given to Buddy Moss) – 3:10 "Hoodoo Man Blues" (Wells, Williamson) – 2:49 "Early in the Morning" (traditional) – 4:44 "We're Ready" (Buddy Guy, Wells) – 3:33 "You Don't Love Me, Baby" (Willie Cobbs) – 2:58 "Chitlin Con Carne" (Kenny Burrell) – 2:12 "Yonder Wall" (Elmore James) – 4:10 "Hoodoo Man Blues (alternate take)" (Wells, Williamson) – 2:50 (CD re-issue bonus track) "Chitlin Con Carne (alternate take)"(Burrell) – 3:20 (CD re-issue bonus track) Junior Wells was born in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, and raised in West Memphis, Arkansas, though other sources report that his birth was in West Memphis.
Initially taught by his cousin, Junior Parker, and Sonny Boy Williamson II, Wells learned how to play the harmonica by the age of seven with surprising skill. He moved to Chicago in 1948 with his mother after her divorce and began sitting in with local musicians at house parties and taverns. Wild and rebellious but needing an outlet for his talents, he began performing with The Aces (guitarist brothers Dave and Louis Myers and drummer Fred Below) and developed a more modern amplified harmonica style influenced by Little Walter. In 1952, he made his first recordings, when he replaced Little Walter in Muddy Waters' band and appeared on one of Waters' sessions for Chess Records in 1952.
His first recordings as a band leader were made in the following year for States Records. In the later 1950s and early 1960s he also recorded singles for Chief Records and its Profile Records subsidiary, including "Messin' with the Kid", "Come on in This House", and "It Hurts Me Too", which would remain in his repertoire throughout his career. His 1960 Profile single "Little by Little" (written by Chief owner and producer Mel London) reached #23 in the Billboard R&B chart, making it the first of two Wells' singles to enter the chart. Junior Wells worked with guitarist Buddy Guy in the 1960s, and featured Guy on guitar when he recorded his first album, Hoodoo Man Blues for Delmark Records. Wells and Guy supported the Rolling Stones on numerous occasions in the 1970s.
Although his albums South Side Blues Jam (1971) and On Tap (1975) proved he had not lost his aptitude for Chicago blues, his 1980s and 1990s discs were inconsistent. However, 1996's Come On in This House was an intriguing set of classic blues songs with a rotating cast of slide guitarists, among them Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks. Wells made an appearance in the film Blues Brothers 2000, the sequel to The Blues Brothers, which was released in 1998. Wells continued performing until he was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1997. That fall, he suffered a heart attack while undergoing treatment, sending him into a coma.
Wells died in Chicago, after succumbing to lymphoma on January 15, 1998, and was interred in the Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more