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Delmark (DE615)

That's All I Need, I Need You So Bad, Feelin' Good, All Your Love, Don't Want No Woman, Sweet Home Chicago, I Found Me A New Love, Every Night Every Day, Lookin' Good, My Love Will Never Die, Mama Talk To Your Daughter, Don't Want No Woman (alternate take).

‘West Side Soul' has long been touted as the catalyst that merged blues and soul music, marking the change from old style Chicago blues and into what we understand today as contemporary electric blues.

Magic Sam not only loved musicians like Jimi Hendrix and JB Lenoir but also soul singers like Syl Johnson and he saw no reason why he shouldn't mix these influences into the blues he was playing on the Chicago club scene so when it came time for him make this record in 1967, his style was fully formed and ready to unleash on the world.

There's a tremendous excitement that runs through this music - from the clanging rock of Feelin' Good with it's spoken intro and frenetic howling vocals, and the sheer power of the singing on My Love Will Never Die to the big fat industrial guitar sound of I Need You So Bad and the hypnotic boogie of the instrumental Lookin' Good with it's tremendous choogling guitar licks that make up the middle eight. He may have included old numbers like Sweet Home Chicago, JB Lenoir's Mama Talk To Your Daughter and Junior Parker's Feelin' Good but he incorporated his new swinging attack with full-chested vocals soaring over fiery guitar licks and bursts of piercing staccato runs.

Charles Shaar Murray says ‘West Side Soul' "has a youthful freshness and urgency which contributes to its immense charm. Yet it has more than just charm, it's exceptionally powerful and atmospheric and the closest Sam ever got to putting his music on record the way he wanted to". Peter Guralnick in his book ‘Listener's Guide To The Blues' describes it "as a high point of blues recording. Everything about this album works - from the ragged piano playing of Stockholm Slim to the fire and focus with which Sam approaches every song. Some sessions seem to be inspired and this is one of them". Bill Dahl calls ‘West Side Soul' "one of the truly essential Chicago blues albums of the 60s with not a weak piece on it", Music Hound reckons it's "one of those astounding Chicago blues albums that makes so many other Chicago blues albums sound stale" and Living Blues magazine considers it a vital Desert Island Disc.

This digipak issue includes notes from Bob Koester and Bill Lindemann from 1967 plus a short commentary from Don Wilcock in 2010. The music has been remixed from the original tapes and although this reissue has been redesigned, the original cover is still there.  It's simply perfect.

Review Date: Febraury 2011

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