Seventy years is a long time. Seventy years before the late Bob Koester founded Delmar (later Delmark) Records while a college student in St. Louis, Buffalo Bill’s travelling Wild West Show debuted, Chester A. Arthur was president, Thomas Edison brought electric light to Roselle, NJ for the first time, and “Black Bart” was in the news for another stagecoach robbery. When Koester released his first record in 1953, many of the now-iconic figures in blues and jazz were still every day working musicians, Ike was in the White House, and the U.S. was fighting in Korea. Now seventy years on, Delmark is the oldest independent jazz and blues record label in the world, boasting a catalog bulging with over twelve thousand recordings by a virtual who’s who of jazz and blues. Although Koester retired in 2018, under the leadership of President/CEO, Julia A. Miller, and Artistic Director Elbio Barilari, Delmark has released over 30 thirty albums in five years, has made digitally available over twelve thousand songs and continues its mission of seeking out and documenting new talent. To celebrate the 70th anniversary, here are some of the finest tracks from the Delmark blues music vaults. (From the liner notes by Scott Dirks)
1) Junior Wells w/ Buddy Guy - Snatch It Back And Hold It
2) Magic Sam - All Of Your Love
3) Otis Rush - All Your Love (I Miss Loving)
4) Jimmy Dawkins w/ Otis Rush & BB Odom - All For Business
5) Dinah Washington - Blues For A Day
6) T-Bone Walker - I Want A Little Girl
7) Big Time Sarah - Long Tall Daddy
8) Little Walter w/ Muddy Waters - I Just Keep Loving Her
9) Memphis Slim & Matt Guitar Murphy - Memphis Slim U.S.A.
10) Jimmy Johnson - Ashes In My Ashtray
Anthology selected by Delmark's Artistic Director Elbio Barilari.
JUNIOR WELLS featuring BUDDY GUY • SNATCH IT BACK AND HOLD IT (2:53)
Amos Blakemore/Buddy Guy, Dimension Music, Mic Shau Music Company, BMI
Junior Wells: VOCALS & HARP • Buddy Guy: GUITAR • Jack Myers: BASS • Billy Warren: DRUMS
FROM HOODOO MAN BLUES (D 612)
MAGIC SAM • ALL OF YOUR LOVE (3:62)
Samuel Maghett, Conrad Music/Leric Music Inc, BMI
Magic Sam: VOCALS & GUITAR • Mighty Joe Young: GUITAR
Earnest Johnson: BASS • Odie Payne: DRUMS
FROM WEST SIDE SOUL (D 615)
OTIS RUSH • ALL YOUR LOVE ( I MISS LOVING ) (6:39)
Otis Rush, Otis Rush Publishing, BMI
Otis Rush: VOCALS & GUITAR • Bob Levis: GUITAR • James Green: BASS • Jesse Green: DRUMS
Big Moose Walker: ORGAN • Abb Locke: TENOR SAX • Chuck Smith: BARITONE SAX FROM COLD DAY IN HELL (D 638)
JIMMY DAWKINS with BIG VOICE ODOM and OTIS RUSH
ALL FOR BUSINESS (4:40) James Henry Dawkins, Embassy Music Corporation, BMI
Big Voice Odom: VOCALS • Jimmy Dawkins & Otis Rush: GUITARS
Sonny Thompson: PIANO • Jim Conley: TENOR SAX • Ernest Gatewood: BASS
Robert Crowder: DRUMS
FROM ALL FOR BUSINESS (D 634)
DINAH WASHINGTON with LUCKY THOMPSON and HIS ALL STARS
BLUES FOR A DAY (2:54) John Willie Henry, Henry Heritage Music, BMI
Dinah Washington: VOCALS • Karl George: TRUMPET • Jewell Grant: ALTO SAX
Lucky Thompson: TENOR SAX • Gene Porter: CLARINET, ALTO, BARITONE SAXES
Milt Jackson: VIBE Wilbert Baranco: PIANO • Charles Mingus: BASS • Lee Young: DRUMS
FROM MELLOW MAMA (D 451 - APOLLO SERIES)
T-BONE WALKER • I WANT A LITT LE GIRL (5:07)
Billy Moll & Murray Mencher, Shapiro Bernstein & Co. Inc, ASCAP
T-Bone Walker: VOCALS & GUITAR • George Arvanitas: PIANO • Hal Singer: TENOR SAX
Jackie Samson: BASS • S.P. Leary: DRUMS
FROM I WANT A LITTLE GIRL (D 633)
BIG TIME SARAH • LONG TALL DADDY (4:56) Sarah Lee Streeter, Leric Music, BMI
Big Time Sarah: VOCALS • Emery Williams: GUITAR • Rodney Brown: SAXES
Tony Llorens: PIANO • Bill Hargrave: BASS • Ricky Nelson: DRUMS
FROM BLUES IN THE YEAR ONE-D-ONE (D 692)
LITTLE WALTER with MUDDY WATERS • I JUST KEEP LOVING HER (2:56)
Walter Jacobs, Boot House of Tunes, BMI
Little Walter: VOCALS & HARP • Muddy Waters: GUITAR
Baby Face Leroy Foster: SECOND GUITAR & BASS DRUM
FROM THE BLUES WORLD OF LITTLE WALTER (D 648)
MEMPHIS SLIM with MATT “GUITAR” MURPHY • MEMPHIS SLIM U.S.A. (2:58)
Peter Chatman, Embassy Music Corporation, BMI
Memphis Slim: VOCALS & PIANO • Matt “Guitar” Murphy: GUITAR
Jim Conley, Neil Green: TENOR SAXES • Henry Taylor: BASS • Otho Allen: DRUMS
FROM MEMPHIS SLIM U.S.A. (D 710 - UNITED SERIES)
JIMMY JOHNSON • ASHES IN MY ASHTRAY (4:33) James Earl Thompson, Granite City Music, BMI
Jimmy Johnson: VOCALS & GUITAR • Rico McFarland: GUITAR
Carl Snyder: PIANO • Ike Anderson: BASS • Dino Alvarez: DRUMS
FROM JOHNSON’S WHACKS (D 644)
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 41:35
PRODUCTION Julia A. Miller AND Elbio Barilari
GRAPHIC DESIGN BY Al Brandtner AT Brandtner Design
ALL COVER PHOTOGRAPHS FROM DELMARK ARCHIVES: JUNIOR WELLS: Eric Fuhan • MAGIC SAM: Diane Allmen OTIS RUSH: UNKNOWN • JIMMY DAWKINS: Nick Allen • DINAH WASHINGTON: Frank Driggs Collection T-BONE WALKER: Val Wilmer • BIG TIME SARAH: Peter Amft • LITTLE WALTER: Val Wilmer
MEMPHIS SLIM: John Alderson • BUDDY GUY: UNKNOWN/FROM PUBLICITY PHOTO OF BUDDY AND JUNIOR
0 3 8153 08781 4
C P 2023 DELMARK RECORDS
Seventy years is a long time. Seventy years before the late Bob Koester founded Delmar (later Delmark) Records while a college student in St. Louis, Buffalo Bill’s travelling Wild West Show debuted, Chester A. Arthur was president, Thomas Edison brought electric light to Roselle, NJ for the first time, and “Black Bart” was in the news for another stagecoach robbery. When Koester released his first record in 1953, many of the now-iconic figures in blues and jazz were still every day working musicians, Ike was in the White House, and the U.S. was fighting in Korea. Now seventy years on, Delmark is the oldest independent jazz and blues record label in the world, boasting a catalog bulging with over twelve thousand recordings by a virtual who’s who of jazz and blues. Although Koester retired in 2018, under the leadership of President/CEO, Julia A. Miller, and Artistic Director Elbio Barilari, Delmark has released over 30 thirty albums in five years, has made digitally available over twelve thousand songs and continues its mission of seeking out and documenting new talent. To celebrate the 70th anniversary, here are some of the finest tracks from the Delmark blues music vaults.
Junior Wells’ debut album, featuring Buddy Guy, originally billed as Friendly Chap due to his commitments with Chess Records, is widely recognized as one of the first albums of a working Chicago blues band (as opposed to a studio-only lineup), and the crisp and funky proof of many nights together on the bandstand have made the Hoodoo Man Blues LP a desert-island disk for blues fans worldwide. “Snatch It Back and Hold It” was the first track recorded at these sessions, and features Junior and the band roaring out of the gate at their soulful best.
Samuel “Magic Sam” Maghett began his recording career in the late 1950s with a series of ground-breaking releases on the small Cobra label; by the mid 1960s his recordings were more sporadic, though he remained a popular attraction in local clubs. This changed when Delmark recorded West Side Soul in 1967, reinvigorating Sam’s career until his tragic passing in 1969. That album is now considered by many to be his masterpiece; as above, “All Your Love” was the first track recorded, and captures the pent-up intensity and power of Sam and his band.
Like Magic Sam, Otis Rush had early success in the 1950s with Cobra, and is now recognized as the embodiment of the ‘West Side’ blues style. Here Rush revisits one of his Cobra classics, stretching out on guitar in a way that wasn’t possible on the original 1950s release of “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)” from Cold Day In Hell.
Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins was another exponent of Chica-go’s West Side blues sound. An aggressive and fiery guitarist, he’d been active both as a leader and a sideman from the late 1950s. For his second Delmark album, 1971’s All For Business, Dawkins recruited an amazing lineup including frequent collaborator Andrew “Big Voice” Odom on vocals and Otis Rush on second guitar.
Dinah Washington was one of the most popular singers of the 1940s and ‘50s, dubbing herself “Queen of The Blues”. Her 1945 L.A. recording sessions for Apollo Records with Lucky Thompson and His All Stars featuring jazz greats Milt Jackson and Charlie Mingus are among her bluesiest; these were released by Delmark on Mellow Mama. “Blues For A Day” showcases her at her sultry best.
To say that T-Bone Walker may be the most important blues guitarist of the 20th century is hardly an exaggeration. His influence can be heard in almost every electric blues guitar player who came along after him. The 1968 recordings for the I Want A Little Girl album find him at his tasteful and elegant best, proving that he hadn’t lost a step since his groundbreaking days in the 1940s and ‘50s. Those sessions took place in Paris, France, for Jean-Marie Monestier’s Black & Blues label.
“Big Time Sarah” Streeter was a singer who could rock the house with the best of them. She could often be found tending bar at B.L.U.E.S in Chicago, taking in live blues every night, coming out from behind the bar to join the band onstage for a number or two when the spirit moved her. She was mentored by the great pianist Sunnyland Slim, whom she name-checks in “Long Tall Daddy” from her second Delmark release Blues In The Year One-D-One.
Little Walter Jacobs is widely revered as the most influential harmonica player in blues history. His earliest records reveal both a strong debt to his idol John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, and his own restless and adventurous nature, as he forged a new language for blues harmonica. His January 1950 session featuring Muddy Waters and Baby Face Leroy Foster find him with one eye on the past and the other looking forward, as he revs up the band with a charging remake of his very first recording from 1947, “Just Keep Loving Her”, featured on the Delmark collection The Blues World Of Little Walter. The sessions were recorded for Chord, a subsidiary of Parkway Records. The production notes on file at Delmark archives say that “the sessions took place in a church or a warehouse in the South Side of Chicago”.
Pianist and singer Memphis Slim made dozens of seminal blues recordings before settling in France in the 1960s and becoming a de facto blues ambassador. Among his very best are the records he made in the 1950s featuring the fleet-fingered Matt “Guitar” Murphy (later of Blues Brothers fame); “Memphis Slim, U.S.A.” from 1954 is from his Delmark release of the same name.
Jimmy Johnson wraps up this collection with his original tune “Ashes in My Ashtray” from his 1979 Delmark release Johnson’s Whacks. Johnson was active on the Chicago music scene for a number of years before this, his debut LP, and the impressive stack of original and well-polished songs he brought to the session have made the album a modern blues classic. Jimmy, who passed in 2021, left this world on a high note with his highly praised last album for Delmark: Every Day of Your Life.
Stay tuned for more amazing music from the label’s vaults as we enter the next seventy years! — SCOTT DIRKS
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