Blues from the 50s (Sweet Home Chicago) Various Artists (ReTrack Records -RR01)

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Back in the Jurassic age, a young Eric Clapton left The Yardbirds  just as they became successful …exclaiming musical differences…. stating they were drifting away from the straight up Chicago Blues that he loved so much. Well, Slowhand would surely approve of this fabulous collection brought to us by local lad Les Fancourt.  Like EC, Les is steeped in the Blues, and he knows his stuff. This record is curated as much as collected. A true labour of love, as the eloquent and informative sleeve notes attest to. We have names the casual blues lover will know (Howlin’ Wolf/Muddy Walters/Elmore James) and names to delight bluesologists who are looking for obscure classics (Robert Nighthawk/ JB Hutto/ John Brim).

Les has sourced, brought together and perfectly sequenced a fantastic cohort of the leading figures of Chicago Blues in the early fifties. The studio quality recordings will grace any turntable and transport you to the smokey clubs of the mid-west. It’s hard, almost impossible, to pick any stand-out tracks from this Collection which is so well constructed. But Robert Lockwood’s “Aw Aw (Sweet home Chicago)” rolls along at a fair old lick and will get all feet tapping and in Billy Boy Arnold’s ”I wish you would” we understand exactly what old Eric Clapton was on about. A sound that infused and infected a bunch of young lads from South West London. And of course, The Yardbirds’ covered it and released it as their first single early 1964.

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