Friday, May 14, 2010

Two classics by Little Walter

Almost forty years ago, during the summer of 1973, two friends and I made a trip to Florida and stopped in Memphis on the way home. Being blues fanatics, we quickly located a used record store that happened to have some unique treasures, original 78 blues recordings on the Chess and Checker labels. One of my friends was lucky enough to find some Little Walter 78's that at the time had not been reissued anywhere on LPs. I distinctly recall listening to some of these songs, "Who" "Break it Up" and "Up the Line" most of which only received scant attention in their time and very little airplay on local radio stations. By 1973 they had all but faded into memory, only the limited number of records still in circulation and the Chess vaults kept them alive.

Inevitably, a talent of Little Walter's caliber receives due recognition and all recorded material is eventually released. All of the songs we found in Memphis on 78 that summer have been reissued by Chess Records, in this complete Chess Masters Set. Even after the reissue, it took a while for some of these classics to find their way onto youtube. I had been looking for these songs for years, and finally Walter's deliberately paced originals "Who" and "Break it Up" were uploaded recently. Louis Myers' guitar work is magical on both and the harp solo on "Break it Up" is breathtaking. Two true classics of 1950's Chicago blues from the inimitable Little Walter Jacobs.