After School Session (1957) by Chuck Berry

Categories: 1957 and Music.

Though it contains Berry’s patented guitar playing, which cemented the electric guitar in rock music for the rest of the century, and it contains a few of his early classics, it’s easy to view Berry’s debut as the least revolutionary of the debut albums from the first wave of rock and roll stars. Because, though there is plenty of rock and roll here, there’s also a lot of blues. In fact, Berry’s debut is far more rooted in the blues than the debuts of his contemporaries and this gives it a feel of being somewhat more conservative, 60 years later. Read More

Complete and Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (1966)

Categories: 1966 and Music.

Otis is my favourite soul singer but I find him more restrained in the studio than live and generally prefer his live music. (Or maybe it’s just the mixes…) His final album is a strong set of covers and originals with an excellent backing band. I prefer Otis Blue in terms of content, but this is still a pretty good idea of what he did, and how well he did it. “Complete” it is not (the original record isn’t quite 25 minutes long). Nor is it some kind of encyclopedic overview of the genre. But it’s good stuff. 8/10 Read More

Animalisms (1966) by The Animals

Categories: 1966 and Music.

I’m pretty sure this music seemed quite rough, ragged and hard to British audiences in 1966. And I guess I should try to keep that in mind, but it’s hard. Because, of course, it wasn’t particularly grittier than its inspirations. I mean, this is mostly a covers record and there are better versions of these songs, and there were better versions of these songs in existence in 1966 (though they may not have been available in the UK or in many places in the US). So I am having more than my usual trouble imagining what it would have been Read More

The Chess Box (1988, Chess) by Willie Dixon

Categories: 1988 and Music.

So Dixon is unlike pretty much all the other major figures in post-war blues in that he rarely led groups. He was more of a songwriter and producer (and, of course, bassist). He’s only the frontman on something like 5 or 6 of these songs. But he’s behind all the rest of them in the other ways. And that’s the really crazy and impressive thing about him: he had this huge impact on the blues and rock and roll, but he rarely took up that role that we would expect someone like him should have. There’s an argument to be Read More