Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Enjoying an album-length blues love letter

One of the poignant passages of "THE BLUES," the book companion to MARTIN SCORSESE'S documentary series about the genre, relates how classic artists from the music's golden age were genuinely touched by the accolades they received from practitioners of the BRITISH BLUES BOOM of the early 1960s.
Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and others noted that although they often weren't recognized by their own next-door neighbors, they were repeatedly lauded by a bunch of white kids from England.
Today, I listened to an album-length love letter to these old bluesmen.
"CRUSADE" by JOHN MAYALL'S BLUESBREAKERS is not only one of my favorite records (it's the recording debut of guitarist MICK TAYLOR), the 1967 release is also found Mayall paying homage to his blues heroes, including Otis Rush, Sonny Boy Williamson II and J.B. Renoir.
I particularly like Mayall's rendition of "I Can't Quit You Baby," a Willie Dixon composition for Rush that was also popularized by LED ZEPPELIN in 1969.
Mayall's version of the song seems like a bridge between a straight blues reading and Zep's amped-up, proto-metal romp. Listening to it today, I wondered about Jimmy Page's familiarity with the Mayall version.
Taylor's solo is good, but his better work would come on the classic sides recorded by the mid-period ROLLING STONES -- yet another band known for loving homages to the original blues.


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