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Chicago Blues

TBT – “T-Bone Blues” Is Luxurious

May 28
21:53 2015

t-bne blues

This week’s Throwback Thursday looks at a classic from blues pioneer T-Bone Walker.

Talk to any of your guitar heroes that play blues, and ask them who their influences are. Chances are that somewhere in their reply, they will mention T-Bone Walker. Today marks the 105th anniversary of his birth, and T-Bone Walker is still as relevant as he ever was, if not more so. The recently departed B.B. King noted that Walker’s “Stormy Monday” record was his inspiration for getting an electric guitar. He said, “If T-Bone Walker had been a woman, I would have asked him to marry me. I’d never heard anything like that before: single-string blues played on an electric guitar.”  Jimi Hendrix stole licks from him, and appropriated his show stopping practice of playing the guitar behind his neck.

T-Bone Blues was originally released on Atlantic Records in 1959, and consisted of 11 tracks. A re-release in 1990 added four bonus tracks and had a running time of 46:47. Either way, there is plenty of blues to enjoy, and an abundance of evidence as to why Walker still revered today.

The tracks are culled from dates in 1955, and 1956 – 1957. There are so many standout cuts here it is almost hard to believe, but fans are extremely grateful all the same. The sound quality is excellent, giving the album an overall ambient glow.

“Papa Ain’t Salty” has a perfect swinging beat, and is wonderful fusion of Chicago style blues and Memphis soul sounding accents. “Why Not” is another great number that swings, and of there is the seductive “T-Bone Shuffle.” “Play On Little Girl,” has Junior Wells on harp, and Jimmy Rogers on guitar, as does “T-Bone Blues Special.”

Other exciting tracks include “Stormy Monday,” still a blues staple today, and “Shufflin’ the Blues,” and the slow, smoky,”Evening.”

Aside from the brilliant, impassioned guitar work and vocals by Walker, the band, whoever they are in any particular instance here, provide an additional dimension to the music, producing work that is lush, vibrant, and alive with feeling.

Walker was indeed a pioneering guitarist, but he was also a consummate showman. He could move an audience emotionally in whatever direction he chose so smoothly that they weren’t even aware he was doing so until the ride was over. When that ride was done, they were thankful for the journey they had just taken. Now, that’s powerful playing! That is what made T-Bone Walker so great.

Enjoy T-Bone Blues on a listening device near you, soon; preferably on vinyl, through headphones. This is an album that will come alive.

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Barry Kerzner

Barry Kerzner

For as long as I can remember I have loved music, especially Blues & Jazz. Now I write and share that love of music with others. To see my photoart, visit http://adbrvl.co/17Eb09g

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