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Blue Bird Blues by Sonny Boy Williamson

Don’t get this Sonny Boy Williamson mixed up with his more recent (and pugnacious) namesake Sonny Boy Williamson II, a.k.a. Rice Miller - this is the original, baby. This SBW was one of the architects of the Chicago blues sound, and like Lightnin’ Hopkins, a link between the rural country blues sound and the urban, electric sound, ‘tween the denim overalls and the sharkskin trousers. He had a hearty, vocalized approach to the harmonica (formidable technique up the wazoo), and while there’s no jazz over/undertones, his playing had a rhythmic "swing" to it, and he was one of the first bluesmen to use drums in his bands. Unlike his successor, this SBW’s voice had a warm, jovial cast to it (imagine Muddy Waters with a wee bit of a "crooner" approach, or a mellower Junior Wells) - damn, he had the blues, but he wasn't gonna let get him down, nossir. While these tunes (25 in all, w/ very excellent sound quality) might sound "sparse" to contemporary blues listeners, it’s well worth exercising a bit of patience to get acclimated to it, see/hear where Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter got it from. Some of his tunes are enshrined in the blues standards pantheon: "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" & "Blues Before Sunrise" to name two, and "Got the Bottle Up & Gone" became "Bottle Up and Go," entering the country & rockabilly sphere. Needless to say, harmonica fans will be in their own private heaven with this collection.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Sonny Boy Williamson
  • CD Title: Blue Bird Blues
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Bluebird
  • Musicians: John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson: vocals, harmonica; Big Bill Broonzy: guitar; Washboard Sam: washboard; Willie Dixon: bass; others.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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