Monday, August 10, 2009

The London Sessions: Two Great Albums

I am a bluesman.
Ever since I first heard the real blues, the old stuff from years ago, I became a bluesman.
Muddy Waters. Howlin' Wolf.
Two of my favorite albums by old bluesmen merge with another musical interest of mine, which is English bluesmen.
The Howlin' Wolf London Sessions (1971) and The Muddy Waters London Sessions (1972).
English bluesmen like Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and many others. You talk to these old English cats and you find that their influences were largely the African American bluesmen who created the genre back in that time period between the 1920's and the 1950's.
So the Howlin' Wolf album features Clapton on guitar, The Rolling Stones Charlie Watts on drums and Billy Wyman on bass and Stevie Winwood on keyboards. Sure, it's the actual Howlin' Wolf blues diluted and reinterpreted by a bunch of still young English rock cats, but hey, they were actually creating a genre of their own.
The Howlin' Wolf London Sessions is my favorite of the two, possibly because I'm a bigger fan of the tunes on that disc (it's on cd and in itunes, I believe).
But the Muddy Waters album is no slouch either. The late, great Rory Gallagher handles guitar duties, with Stevie Winwood on keys, Rick Grech on bass and the explosive Jimi Hendrix and The Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell on drums.
So Winwood gets play on both albums.
What heady days those must have been. Rory Gallagher was just coming into international recognition in his solo career after his stint with Taste (he was so good that was asked to join the Rolling Stones when Mick Taylor left, before the offer was made to the ultimate replacement Ron Woods). Mitchell had done the Hendrix deal and was in demand and at the top of his game.
Clapton was right in the middle of his Derek and The Dominos phase. Of course, Watt's and Wyman's careers and fortunes with the Rolling Stones were already weathy British rock royalty and yet, only more and more success and fame was to come for these two original Stones. Clearly some of the top English blues based rock stars of the day.
Of course, in my humble opinion, the only way either project could have been cooler was if the members of Led Zeppelin had been involved. That's food for thought in and of itself. Any Zeppelin fan worth their salt knows many of Zep's best tunes are derived from old African American blues, and the members of Zep, particularly Plant and Page, were really into the whole Mississippi bluesman mystique and legends. And they came up with an entirely rocking way of reinterpreting the blues. But I digress...
Other artists followed suite and did London Session albums with a variety of players.
But these two are my favorites. In any event, these albums are lively, well played albums merging the unique styles of two iconic American bluesmen who literally invented the concept of "electric {guitar} blues" merged with the first generation of british musicians who worshipped the ground these guys walked on, musically and otherwise.
Sorry about the spacing. I can't get it to work right.


  1. Rory Gallagher was a genius.

    If i ever had to explain to an alien from Alpha Centauri what "blues-rock" was all about, i would play him some Rory

  2. Very true. Freg, you've inspired me to do a Rory post. Rory has been very essential to my musicality for over thirty years.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Thanks for struggling through the spacing issue of my post. I can't seem to fix it.

  3. Interesting side note, when Taste disbanded Rory tried out Jimi's rhythm section, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, but decided on relatively unknowns, McAvoy and Campbell.