Friday, November 07, 2014

Magic Sam Live at the Avant Garde, June 22 1968

This is a fantastic document of blues guitarist Magic Sam live in 1968 (backed by bassist Big Mojo Elem and drummer Bob Richey) in Milwaukee, showing off his skills. Don't know if this is a sound board tape, but the audience is buried in the mix, so you can't really hear their enthusiasm, but they must have been rockin' to this amazing session!

Starting with his swingin' instro "San-Ho-Zay", Sam shows he is in fine shape, and continues with some incredible playing in "Don't Want No Woman". The guitar lines are fast'n'fluid and he moves from lead to rhythm effortlessly and makes this sound like it is a much more than a three piece. I've loved this man's playing since I first heard him - he has a cool mix of old school (Muddy Waters/Howlin' Wolf) and more urban blues (BB/Freddy King, etc.) - and he has a fine voice, as well. The group smokes behind him, and the dynamics are rockin' and groovin'.

"I Need You So Bad" slows down things a bit, but "Feelin' Good" is positively frantic and "It's All Your Fault Baby" is also a more laid-back number, in the mold of Muddy Waters' "Same Thing". He sets up a Booker T./"Shotgun" groove in "You Belong to Me" and "Bad Luck Blues" is based around a sweet up'n'down blues lick and flowing rhythm. "Come On in This House" continues with this feel as does his take on "Hoochie Coochie Man" and a powerhouse "Still a Fool" (both Muddy Waters hits). He gives the crowd a soulful bounce in "That's All I Need" and then he pulls off Otis Rush's "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)" with his own twists, while still maintaining the coolness of the original, and he does the same on Jimmy Rogers' "That's All Right".

Back to his own high-energy wildness for "Lookin' Good", a stop'n'start John Lee Hooker-style dance-boogie and another smoldering, slow blues in "Every Night, Every Day", before finishing up with a mash up of various blues standards and plenty of original hepness in "Hully Gully Twist".

Great, great blues album, featuring a wonderful player and entertainer that was taken far too young - the following year. Haven't heard anything bad from this man yet!