Sunday, May 09, 2010

Jimmy Rogers - His Best

In the 40’s and 50’s, Muddy Waters and his band, which at its peak consisted of Willie Dixon on bass, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Little Walter on harmonica and Elgin Evans on drums, positively ruled the Chicago blues scene. Many other stars came through the ranks (including Otis Spann, Big Walter, Junior Wells, and a number of others) but this core was the band at its best and created careers for both Walter and Jimmy. Interesting enough, the recording sessions often overlapped and so the same lineup was used for Muddy’s hits as well as Jimmy’s and Walter’s. But rather than market these records as the same band, the Chess label created several stars from the same group.

Waters obviously became the superstar and (deservedly) one of the kings of the blues, but the others were supremely talented as this collection of Rogers’ proves. As I said, many of these recordings are backed by Muddy’s band (with Muddy on guitar) and so you couldn’t ask for a better group – these cats knew how to groove! There are some sessions with others, as well, and all swing with a fine passion.

Jimmy’s voice is much smoother and less raw and primal than Waters, so there is a different feel to these numbers despite the consistency of the musicians. But, that is not to say that these are any less great – just not the same as Muddy’s tunes. Rogers is still a fine singer and a terrific songwriter and Little Water in particular stands out on many of the cuts.

This collection has many of his best known tunes, from “That’s All Right”, “Luedella” and “Goin’ Away Baby” to the finely melodic “Walking By Myself” to the swingin’, jazzy “What Have I Done” to the hilarious dark humor of “One Last Meal” to the high energy of “Rock This House” with its cool, blazing jazz/blues licks.

This man is an icon of the blues who, despite the acclaim of many famous rockers, remains relatively obscure compared to men he played with, such as Muddy & Howlin’ Wolf. Get this collection and find out just how talented he was on his own, as well.