10 of Spinner's favorite albums - Bandana Blues

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Some of Spinner's favorite albums
Here's a list of 10 of my favorite blues albums. Actually I could make the list much longer, because there are so many great blues albums around. So it's not a top 10, but just a list of 10 great blues albums that I like very very much. The order in which they are listed is also irrelevant; I ordered them by the year of their release. And since the harmonica is my favorite blues tool, there's a lot of harp on my list.
Canned Heat - "Boogie with Canned Heat" (Liberty, 1968)
I am the proud owner of an original 1968-issue of this album. It was also one of the first few blues treasures in my record collection at the time. A great album (their 2nd) by a band that went through many changes, but in my humble opinion the line-up that is on this album and of whom quite a few have passed away over the years, was the best ever. The album includes their hit "On the Road Again" but that's not the reason it is on my list, because many of the other tracks are just as good or even better. It is simply a damn good album, period.
Gary Primich - "Travelin' Mood" (Flying Fish, 1994)
I put "Travelin' Mood" on the list, but it could just as well have been one of his other albums, like "Botheration" or "Dog House Music" or... Gary Primich just has to be on my list, it's as simple as that. If only to honor this great musician who bit the dust way too early. I just love his harp playing, inspiring as it is. I'm so glad I was lucky enough to see him perform once and even exchange a few words with him. I miss him and cling to the heritage he left on his discs.
Carlos del Junco Band - "Just Your Fool" (Big Reed, 1995)
Carlos del Junco's harpplaying is from out of this world. If you need an example of eclectic music, just slip any disc of this Canadian in your cd-player. "Just Your Fool" is his most bluesy album, with covers like "Up the Line", "Key to the Highway", "Rocket 88" and the title track, but they are all given the Carlos del Junco treatment, intertwined with Kevin Breit's extraordinary guitar work. And for something different, the opening track of the album will simply blow your mind... well, at least it did blow mine and still does. Amazing stuff, all of it. And recorded live, making it even more amazing. But that's Carlos for you: all that complicated harpplaying he accomplishes in the recording studio, he pulls off on stage also, right in front of you. Believe me, I know, I was there, he blew me away.
Paul deLay Band - "Take It from the Turnaround..." (Evidence, 1996)
Paul deLay was probably the most original and creative harpplayer in the blues, especially when he picked up a chromatic harmonica (okay okay, maybe I can think of a few more). And he was definitely a fine composer and a great lyricist. After his struggles, first with alcohol and then with drug addiction, including doing time behind bars, he made a great come-back with not a single bad recording. All his albums are a joy to the mood and mind. This album combines almost all of 2 albums the band released before he went to jail: "The Other One" (1991) + "Paulzilla" (1992). These albums were recorded during the uncertain times of court appearances and legal delays, so it had to be done quickly and cheap. But the bust had cleaned up deLay and as a result it finally let out the great songwriter in him. And as this disc proves, these original tunes are just sheer magic. With Paul deLay in prison, the band kept on playing gigs as the No deLay Band and when Paul was released they picked up where they left off, playing gigs and recording more critically acclaimed albums of great originals. I was shocked when I heard of his demise by leukemia in March 2007, at an age way too young. The best of him had yet to come. So sad this would never happen.
Boyd Small - "This Time No Lies" (Cool Buzz, 1998)
Ofcourse I had to throw in a Dutch album on the list. Than again, singer/drummer Boyd Small is not a Dutchie, he's from Oregon USA, but lives in Amsterdam for I don't know how long now. He made this album with a cast of outstanding Dutch musician and it's a beauty. All original material, composed by Boyd Small himself. It's a mix of catchy blues tunes, serious songs and some tongue-in-cheek stuff. A pleasant time is guaranteed for all.
The Hoax - "Live Forever" (Credible, 1999)
A 'must have' album for lovers of rock driven blues music, recorded live by this hard driving quintet from Great Britain. From the first tone to the last, it just grooves to the max and grabs you by the ears and you wish you would have been there when it was recorded. Maybe just the best live album ever made. It was their goodbye album, released in 1999, after which they broke up. But occasionally they get together for a tour and they even released a new album in 2013: "Big City Blues", made possible financially by (believe it or not) crowdfunding. In support of the album, The Hoax went on tour again and of the 4 gigs they did on Europe's main land, 3 were in The Netherlands (and I was present at one, ofcourse). Needless to say they are very popular overhere.
Lee Sankey Group - "Tell Me There's a Sun" (Ten Year Noose, 2003)
Actually Lee Sankey is a professional designer by trade. He has designed footwear for Puma and clothing concepts for Yamaha. But he also made 2 albums as a musician, released on his own label. Sankey's main instrument is the harmonica and he also plays guitar, but it ain't your familiar 12-bar blues you'll find on this album, his 2nd. There's a lot of jazz in Lee Sankey's music. All songs have been written and arranged by himself, with some help on the horn arrangements. Great original material, skilfully delivered in a very tasteful manner. The music of the Lee Sankey Group grabs you by the ears through surprising arrangements, a mix of blues and jazz with a unexpected twist here and there. Never a dull moment. Also, this album introduced me to the gritty vocals of Ian Siegal, a singer I had never heard off before, like most everybody at the time I guess. Siegal's voice blends in perfectly in Sankey's startling compositions, giving them the extra depth they actually don't even need. The whole album is a masterly accomplishment by a group of a excellent musicians, led by a very versatile man. A damn good example of eclectic (blues) music, the kind we love at Bandana Blues.
Jean Jacques Milteau - "Fragile" (Universal Music, 2005)
Any album of this French harmonica player is a must have for me, but "Fragile" is a disc that I play a lot, although maybe just a little more than his other albums. Milteau is an outstanding harmonica virtuoso, and he doesn't limit himself to blues, actually not at all. But there's always a bluesy touch profoundly present in Milteau's sound and I just love his sweet and tasteful playing and amazing skills. If you are a blues purist, stay away from him. But if you're willing to expand your horizon, you are in for a treat with this album. Or any other album by this Frenchman.
Nighthawks - "American Landscape" (Powerhouse, 2008)
My good friends The Nighthawks definitely deserve to be on my list, although the choice between this album and their acoustic endeavor "Last Train to Bluesville" was a tough one to make. And maybe their album "Damn Good Time" should be on the list, since it contains recordings of the best Nighthawks line-up ever, with Paul Bell on guitar, Johnny Castle on bass, Mark Stutso as the latest addition on drums and ofcourse founding member, bandleader and harpplayer Mark Wenner, the most pleasant illustrated man I have ever met and a great friend indeed. But for now "American Landscape" is presented here, if only for the song "Where do you go when you go where you go without me". Yeah Johnny, tell me about it.
Trickbag - "With Friends Vol. 1" (Magic, 2013)
This band advertises itself as 'Sweden's finest'. And although I hardly know any other bands from Sweden, I became very willing to believe them after I heard this album. Okay, they got some help of a few good friends, as the title suggests. But even so, Trickbag is not a bag full of cheap tricks; the band rocks solid on this album behind aces like James Harman, Lynwood Slim, John Nemeth, R.J. Mischo, Bob Corritore and Barrelhouse Chuck. But the biggest surprise for me was to find West Weston as a friend that joined Trickbag on this album. I had lost track of him completely ever since a friend of mine gave me an obscure copy on a cd-r of an album by West Weston's Bluesonics from the early 1990s. I even think it was burned by Weston himself, as that was probably the way he distributed his music at the time. I loved the album but was never able to find any other recordings by West Weston. And then he shows up on this album by a Swedish band. A band he has worked with before, as it appeared. His contributions on the album are dynamite, but all the other stuff is just as good. I should not forget to mention Sven Zetterberg, the godfather of Sedish blues, who delivers some lowdown dirty vocals and great harpplaying on a few tracks. Because of all these friends, plus the excellent choice of songs, the diversity of this album will never get you bored. Like they say themself: Sweden's finest.
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