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Chicago Blues

TBT – Willie Dixon’s “I Am the Blues” Is Blues Heaven

June 18
11:36 2015

I_am_the_blues

Editor’s Note: This week, Throwback Thursday looks at a classic album by the Godfather of the Blues, Willie Dixon.

This year we celebrate the centennial of the birth of Willie Dixon, born William James “Willie” Dixon on July 1, 1915. It has been said that he wrote over 3000 songs, and it would take quite a few paragraphs to list all of those songs that became charting hits. Dixon was also an arranger, producer, and vocalist who played a mean bass, and guitar as well. His numerous honors include a Grammy Award in 1989 for his album, Hidden Charms, and his induction into the Blues Foundation Blues Hall of Fame in 1980. In 1994, Dixon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Some of the many artists that Dixon worked with include Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Rush, Bo Diddley, Koko Taylor, Little Milton, Lowell Fulson, Memphis Slim, Jimmy Rogers, and Sam Lay. Because he wore so many hats, and so many other artists had hits performing the songs he wrote, it is sometimes is overlooked just what an accomplished performer he was in his own right.

Dixon’s album, I Am the Blues, originally issued on the Columbia label in 1970, is a perfect example of all his talent. The album’s nine tracks run just under 44 minutes, seemingly ending too soon. Working with Dixon the album are an elite group of players: Walter Horton on harmonica,   Lafayette Leake and Sunnyland Slim on piano, Johnny Shines stroking the guitar, Clifton James caressing the skins, and Willie himself on bass and vocals.

Eight of the nine tracks are written by Dixon, and the ninth, “You Shook Me,” was written by Dixon with J. B. Lenoir. “You Shook Me” and “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” were originally recorded by Muddy Waters. “I Can’t Quit You, Baby” was recorded by Otis Rush. “Back Door Man,” “Spoonful,” “I Ain’t Superstitious,” and “The Little Red Rooster” were originally recorded by Howlin’ Wolf.

The sound quality and production are decent, and the performances are stirring in their austere ambiance. Just the blues, and nothing but the blues. Simple. Plainly dressed. Modest in demeanor. Unabashedly effective.

As we celebrate Willie Dixon and his accomplishments this year, experiencing I Am the Blues is yet one more way to pay homage to his immense talent, and his innate understanding of the blues.

About Author

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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