The next item on my list marks the partnership of Junior Wells and Buddy Guy. The two men are both popular in their own right but they made some of their best music together. While this album is attributed to Junior Wells, Buddy Guy is all over this record as well. Although Guy was originally called “Friendly Chap” in the credits on the first vinyl pressings due to his contract with Chess Records. The explanation for that name was “A buddy is a friend, a guy is a chap”.
Wells was born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr. A legend from Wells’ younger days talks of him seeing a $2.00 harmonica in a store. He didn’t have enough money so Wells laid what money he had on the counter, took the harp and ran. He was arrested. The story goes on to say that the judge paid the store owner the difference after he heard Wells play the harmonica.
Initially he was influenced by Junior Parker and both Sonny Boy Williamsons. Little Walter soon became his idol, much like every other harp player, when he arrived in Chicago in 1948. Little Walter left Muddy Waters band in 1952 and an 18 year old Wells jumped in to take his place with the group. He stayed with Muddy until about 1958 when he teamed up with Buddy Guy and they formed a partnership that would last more than twenty years. Muddy always hired the best musicians available and quite often when they left they would put out records that rivalled the man’s own great music. Willie Dixon, Otis Spann and Memphis Slim are a few examples. Junior Wells was no different and “Hoodoo Man Blues” is the proof.
Buddy Guy was born George Guy, July 30, 1936 in Lettsworth, Louisiana. He learned to play on a guitar he made himself. Using the wires from his mother’s screen door. Apparently she was always wondering how mosquitoes would get in the house.
He started out on the 1950s Baton Rouge blues scene. He didn’t really impress anyone at first and it wasn’t until after he got over his nervousness and he turned up his showmanship that he started to get noticed. In 1957 Guy left Louisiana to chase his career in Chicago. In 1958 he won a record contract with Artistic Records after beating West Side guitarists Magic Sam and Otis Rush in a guitar playing competition at the Blue Flame Club. Eric Clapton readily calls Buddy Guy his favorite blues guitar player. Buddy has received five Grammy Awards, 23 W.C. Handy Blues Awards (the most any artist has received), the Billboard Magazine Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement, and the Presidential National Medal of Arts.
The album, “Hoodoo Man Blues” marks the beginning of a great partnership between the two men, which sadly ended with Wells’ death several years ago. There’s lot of great music on “Hoodoo Man Blues” — “Early in the Morning,” “Good Morning Schoolgirl” and “Snatch it Back and Hold It.” The 1965 Delmark Records recording also marked an important milestone as the first blues album ever released. Prior to this blues records were released as 45′s. “Hoodoo Man Blues” is considered one of the top five or ten blues records of all time. This is with out any doubts another quintessential piece to anyone who loves blues collections and is the next addition to my list. Do yourself a favour and pick it up.
1 Snatch It Back and Hold It (Wells) 2:53
2 Ships on the Ocean (Wells) 4:07
3 Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (Williamson) 3:50
4 Hound Dog (Leiber, Stoller)2:12
5 In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning (Hilliard, Mann) 3:42
6 Hey Lawdy Mama 3:10
7 Hoodoo Man Blues (Wells, Williamson) 2:49
8 Early in the Morning (Traditional) 4:44
9 We’re Ready (Guy, Wells) 3:33
10 You Don’t Love Me, Baby (Cobbs) 2:58
11 Chitlin Con Carne (Burrell) 2:12
12 Yonders Wall (James) 4:10
13 Hoodoo Man Blues [alternate take] (Wells, Williamson) 2:50
14 Chitlin Con Carne [alternate take] (Burrell) 3:20