BLUES ISSUE 10
PRINTED IN THE UK
November 2013 • Issue 10
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From the Bluesbreakers to the early days of Fleetwood Mac – the making of the mercurial guitarist’s legend.
We meet the guitar hero’s guitar hero, and trace his blues-soaked roots.
As the Kickback City box set hits the shelves, the crime writer examines the noirish tendencies of Rory Gallagher.
The New Orleans legend on keeping time for The Meters and touring with The Stones.
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This Belfast-born blueser is tipped to knock Bonamassa off his perch, and he swears he’s ready for the big time.
Best of 2013
Feast your eyes and ears on The Blues’ 50 finest albums released this year!
As frontman and flautist of Jethro Tull, Anderson helped pioneer prog – but his heart belonged to the blues...
High times and tall tales with the man behind the Monday Blues club.
PETER GREEN The meteoric rise of a British blues master.
Philip Guy Davis
A 12-bar Xmas! Gifts for the blues aficionado.
November 2013 • Issue 10
The latest blues news, including exclusive info on prodigy Laurence Jones’ forthcoming new album, plus chats with legends Los Lobos and up’n’comers Left Lane Cruiser, Sunday Wilde and Brothers Groove, and where to shop, drink and eat on Memphis’ legendary Beale Street.
Call & Response
Jaren Johnston, frontman of wired deep south blues-rock trio The Cadillac Three, discusses their cracking debut album Tennessee Mojo, the topic of southern pride, and what it’s like going on the road with ZZ Top.
A killer shot of a genuine blues legend for you to feast your eyes on. This issue, we have a rarely seen shot of former Yardbird and Brit blues rock guitarist Jeff Beck kicking back in his room at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles.
Classic versions of an iconic blues song fight it out for supremacy. This month, country blues milestone Matchbox, penned by Blind Lemon Jefferson, popularised by rockabilly king Carl Perkins, and performed by a certain quartet of moptops from Liverpool...
First Time I Met The Blues
Hard-bitten Glaswegian blues bard Craig Hughes recalls his formative experiences with the blues, busking Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf classics on the streets of Scotland and drawing inspiration from the harsh realities of Thatcher’s Britain.
THE CADILLAC THREE
REVIEWS All the CDs and DVDs you need to feed your blues obsession, reviewed by our team of aficionados.
Among the many stars of London’s mid-60s blues scene, one guy outshone and outplayed them all – Peter Green. Here, in interviews with John Mayall, Mike Vernon, former bandmates and the ‘Man of the World’ himself, we tell the story of how Fleetwood Mac were born. Words: Johnny Black eter Green is, arguably, the most under-rated guitarist of the British mid-60s blues boom, consistently relegated to a position somewhere below the holy triumvirate of Clapton, Beck and Page. He deserves better. He would write some of the most memorable blues-based songs of the 60s, create some of the genre’s most imaginative guitar licks and establish a band that, by the end of the decade, was out-selling The Beatles and The Stones. Born in London’s East End to a poor Jewish family, he had been turned onto the possibilities of guitar at the age of 11, in the skiffle era of the mid-50s. His brother Len acquired a cheap Spanish guitar and showed young Peter a few chords. Before long, it was Peter’s guitar. This is the story of how it all began for Peter Green, his first recordings and the creation of Fleetwood Mac.
August 11, 1965: John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, featuring Eric Clapton, play at Putney Pontiac Club in south-west London. Shortly after this gig, Clapton unexpectedly disappears to Greece for a two-week holiday. John Mayall: I guess Eric just became bored with it. So he decided to get some friends together and go off to Greece. For me, it was panic stations because we’d come to rely on him so much and there were so few people to choose from as a replacement. I got a lot of replies to an ad I put in the Melody Maker, so I was auditioning different players every night, letting them sit in to see how they worked out. Then Peter came up to me during a gig at The Flamingo in Wardour Street and was fairly forceful, very insistent that he
was better than the guy I had on stage that night, so I gave him a shot and he was quite right, of course. Mike Vernon (Blue Horizon label founder and producer): Peter was an unknown quantity at this time. He had played in several local bands, the best known of which was perhaps The Muskrats, but he was not a big name. Peter Green: John said I could play a little bit and he said, ‘You’ve got the feeling’, or something similar. Anyway, he let me on the train.
August 25, 1965: John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, featuring Eric Clapton, newly returned from Greece, play at Putney Pontiac Club. John Mayall: Unfortunately, it was only a couple of weeks before Eric came back from Greece. Eric returned with a tan and Peter was out again. Peter wasn’t very pleased about that, but that was the way it was. Peter Green: I was only there for a week, and then I went with Peter B’s Looners... December 24, 1965: Georgie Fame And The Blue Flames, supported by instrumental band Peter B’s Looners, led by organist Peter Bardens, play at The Flamingo. As well as Peter Green, the group also includes drummer Mick Fleetwood, both of whom will become founder members of Fleetwood Mac. Mick Fleetwood: Peter came to audition... we were a very simple instrumental band, a lot of Booker T, Mose Allison. He had a great sound as they say, but me and the bassist, Dave Ambrose, didn’t think he knew enough about the guitar. He only played a couple of licks, variations on a
He’s one of the most heralded guitarists of his generation, whose admirers include Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. BUDDY GUY looks back on his career and pays tribute to the bluesmen who inspired his own beginnings with a new two-disc album. Words: Alice Clark blame my producer Tom Hambridge,” says Buddy Guy down the phone from Chicago, his home of 56 years. “The album was all his idea.” The 77-year-old blues singer/guitarist is talking about Rhythm & Blues, his recent double album, featuring 21 tracks, disc one comprising R&B – “music for, like B.B. King said, if you want to boogie-woogie all night long,” Guy explains – and disc two, the blues – “you know the slower stuff, to sit down and listen to”. The follow-up to 2010’s Grammy Award-winning Living Proof, Rhythm & Blues was recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios in just over two weeks, and it’s a fiery record, that lyrically plays out like his autobiography. It also sees Guy reunite with the aforesaid producer and songwriter Hambridge for a third time, and pairs him with a stellar cast of guest musicians ranging from Gary Clark Jr, Kid Rock and Beth Hart to the perhaps more surprising likes of Aerosmith and country singer Keith Urban. “I got lucky on the duets and, you know, the songs just kept coming and we just kept recording. I’d turn up to the studio at 10 in the morning and we’d finish one song, and they’d be another lined up to record,” he chuckles. “I’d say we only need 15 for a CD, but these songs, they sounded so good so Tom Hambridge said, ‘Let’s make it a double.’ We sure do like to work hard when we’re enjoying ourselves.” Buddy Guy, born in Lettsworth, Louisiana in 1936, has been working hard and enjoying himself since he moved to Chicago in 1957, aged just 21. He recorded his debut single, 1958’s Sit And Cry (The Blues) and 1959 follow up This Is The End for Chicago label Cobra imprint Artistic Records, before signing to Chess in 1960. That same year, he released the impressive The First Time I Met The Blues on the label, but spent much of his seven-year tenure there as a sideman, working with Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter et al. It wasn’t until he went to the UK in 1965 that he realised he was making waves in his own right. Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton were all vocal fans, as were The Beatles, who wanted him to
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Words: Henry Yates
Sinner boy: Rory Gallagher, backstage at Pavillon Baltard, France, March 12 1982. Inset: Ian Rankin.
Fusing a whodunnit novella with Rory Gallagher’s darkest songs, Kickback City is much more than a bog-standard boxset. The Blues took author Ian Rankin downtown to ask him a few questions… he Blues is stood in a dark alley somewhere in America, deep on the wrong side of the tracks. A cop’s flashlight flits around in the dark, dancing between dumpsters, slicing through steam, picking out the principals in this grim scene. There’s a one-time boxing champion – now some years past his prime – slumped against the wall, slurring his innocence but spattered with blood. At his feet, the youngest daughter of the city’s corporate big-wheel, her clothes stripped and her face savaged with a broken bottle. “Bloodstains on the dress of the millionairess,” notes the cop. “That’s from a song, isn’t it…?” Pinch yourself. None of this, thank God, is actually happening, but your mind plays tricks when faced with Kickback City. By this point we’ve become desensitised to press releases, so it’s easy to sneer at Sony’s blurb about a “unique immersive album”. In this case, though, they’ve got a point. This isn’t just a box set: it’s a whole murky underworld you can reach out and touch. The backbone of the package is The Lie Factory, a 40-page film-noir Ian Rankin novella, inspired by the music of Rory Gallagher and accompanied by 21 of the Irish guitarist’s crime-related songs. Throw in graphic-novel artwork by Timothy Truman, plus a disc with actor Aidan Quinn narrating the story, and you might call Kickback City the anti-Spotify. “It’s a beautiful object,” nods Rankin, who has rather thrillingly agreed to an interview. “A hybrid of a comic and album. It just wouldn’t have worked as a download. I like an artefact, something you can hold in your hand. Hopefully, that’s coming back again.” This isn’t our usual gig. But then, it isn’t Rankin’s, either. Earlier this year, the wildly successful Scottish crime writer was interrupted – then intrigued – by a stranger dangling the project. “It was all down to Rory’s brother, Donal,” he explains. “He came to me and asked if I knew that Rory was a big fan of crime fiction. I didn’t, but it made perfect sense. When you think about his song titles and lyrics, it’s obvious. He died too early to get any of my books. His favourite stuff was hardboiled American urban noir. Raymond Chandler. The Big Sleep. Continental Op is the title of a Dashiell classicrockmagazine.com 9
He’s known globally as the wild-eyed, flute-playing leader of progressive luminaries Jethro Tull. In a five-decade career he’s covered folk, jazz, electronica and even heavy metal. With over 60 million albums sold, it seems Ian Anderson has always been a stadium-filling rock deity. But it all had to start somewhere… and that somewhere was with rock’n’roll, the blues and the John Evan Band. Words: Jo Kendall Portrait: Kevin Nixon he pre-Jethro Tull era. According to people in the know, it’s a subject that Ian Anderson has always steadfastly avoided. But having caught up with him at the Progressive Music Awards in September – where he was proclaimed Prog God 2013 – we proposed the idea and a chink in the space-time-prog-blues continuum opened up. So here we are, inside Anderson’s cosy pied-a-terre on a cobbled mews in West London, with October sunshine streaming through the French windows and a brew on the go, made by wife Shona. So far, so good. Leaning back into a comfy corner sofa, Anderson chats about his childhood in Edinburgh where he discovered big band music such as Benny Goodman and Count Basie through his father’s 78s, before Bill Haley and Elvis caught his attention on TV. With a plethora of Elvis wannabes emerging on to the pop scene, such as Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and “dear old Cliff”, the nine-year-old Anderson started to show an interest in making music, and his parents got him his first instrument: an Elvis Presley signature plastic uke. “We got it mail-order from a Sunday newspaper,” he says. “I remember it cost 22 and six and even it if had been two and sixpence it still would have been complete crap. It couldn’t get in tune, it was completely useless.” Undeterred, Anderson’s father acquired a Spanish guitar
with metal strings where nylon was required, “which made the action ridiculously high and almost unplayable”, he laughs, but admits, “I managed to make a bit of a noise on there without knowing any chords,” just as the skiffle movement began to boom. It was perfect timing for kids everywhere with imagination, musical hunger and basic ability. “There were elements of Lonnie, elements of Elvis and the big band jazz that I could tie together,” he explains, “But it was the blues scale that I was playing, the flattened fifth, the minor third.” n 1959, the Andersons relocated to Blackpool. Aged 12, and with TV programmes like Six-Five Special and Hullabaloo getting live music and blues and folk musicians on British TV for the first time, Anderson lapped up performances from artists such as Muddy Waters, who were finally coming out of $20-a-night US dives to European concert venues and getting recognition. “We were fascinated by what was essentially black American folk music,” he says. “It was raucous and untrained, and quite a lot of it was acoustic music and not electric rock.” Soon, Anderson was off to experience the blues as they hit nearby locations like Manchester Free Trade Hall. A standout show was by J.B. Lenoir. “Unlike most of his peers, he didn’t just sing songs about waking up in the morning feeling
Ian anderson Ian Anderson at home in his West London mews cottage, October 2013.
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