JUNIOR WELLS & THE ACES
LIVE IN BOSTON 1966
Feelin' Good, Man Downstairs, Worried Life Blues, Junior's Whoop, That's All Right, Look On Yonder's Wall, Messin' With The Kid, Hideaway, If You Gonna Leave Me, I Don't Know, Got My Mojo Workin'.
This live album from Junior Wells is a rough, ready and raucous club set from somewhere in Boston. The notes don't tell us where or how this recording came about (maybe a radio air-shot?) but just be grateful that we've got an atmospheric sample of one of the best-ever harp playing blues men at the top of his game, ripping up the joint with one of the best ever blues bands!
Wells, who had recently started the cross over to a young white blues-hip audience by recording his classic Delmark album Hoodoo Man Blues with Buddy Guy, decided to backtrack to an older style for this tour which is why he used the fabulous Aces as his backing band. This band, consisting of Louis Myers (guitar), Dave Myers (bass) and Fred Below (drums) had shook up the Chicago blues scene in 1950 when, with Junior Wells as their leader, they'd added a new beat and a funky urgency to the down-home blues of the old masters.
In contrast to his classic It's My Life Baby album recorded at Peppers Lounge in 1967 with its serious traditional hard blues, this CD, made just one year earlier, is extroverted and excitable with every musician willing to stretch out and improvise with wonderful extended solos on songs like Junior's Whoop and the funky I Don't Care. Junior reaches back to some truly classic songs like Big Maceo's Worried Life Blues, Freddie King's Hideaway, Jimmy Roger's That's All Right, Muddy's Got My Mojo Working and G.L Crocket's There's A Man Downstairs, as he heads toward the towering version of his theme tune Messin' With The Kid.
This CD is an unvarnished and historic example of what a big city blues club sounded like in the mid-60s with buzzing amps, happy audience noises and wry comments from Junior between the songs. Sometimes, after we've hotly anticipated getting our hands on a rediscovered, lost-in-the-attic tape from forty years ago, we find that it's from a dismal off-night performed without soul or vibrancy and no accident that it's been hidden away for years. That's not the case with this dynamic little set though. This won't disappoint. It rocks like crazy and, as I'm concerned, it's five star stuff!
Review Date: November 2010