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Magic Sam – Black Magic (Deluxe Edition)
Recorded on October 23 and November 6, 1968, Black Magic was released only days before Magic Sam’s untimely passing on December 1, 1969; he was only 32. The album went on to win a W.C. Handy Award in the classic blues album category.
Magic Sam : vocals and guitar
Eddie Shaw : tenor saxophone
Lafayette Leake : piano
Mighty Joe Young : guitar
Mack Thompson : bass
Odie Payne Jr. : drums
Recorded October 23 and November 7, 1968
1. I Just Want A Little Bit 3:00
2. What Have I Done Wrong 3:07
3. Easy, Baby 4:20
4. You Belong To Me 4:04
5. It’s All Your Fault Baby 4:52
6. Same Old Blues 3:32
7. You Don’t Love Me, Baby 3:29
8. San-Ho-Zay 3:53
9. You Better Stop 4:49
10. Keep On Loving Me, Baby 3:54
11. What Have I Done Wrong (alternate) 3:20
12. I Just Want A Little Bit (alternate) 3:12
13. Everything’s Gonna Be All Right 4:04
14. Keep On Doing What You’re Doing 2:54
15. Blues For Odie Payne 4:44
*16. Same Old Blues (alternate) 3:41
*17. What Have I Done Wrong (alternate 2) 2:51
18. Keep On Loving Me, Baby (alternate) 3:23
1-10 originally issued as Black Magic in 1969. 11-15 and 18 were issued on The Magic Sam Legacy in 1997.
*16, 17 previously unreleased
The original LP liner notes
"Speaking as a blues singer, I think my album's the best I've heard. I'm not sayin' it because it's mine - it's got more of a soul selection and a feel than anything I've heard in a long time." Magic Sam knows his music is good, and so does the rest of the blues world. His first LP West Side Soul (Dclmark 615) was the only blues record of 1968 to earn a five-star review in Downbeat, and has become Delmark's hottest item. Sam has taken his magic blues from Chicago's West Side clubs to the Fillmore, Winterland, Ash Grove, Shrine Auditorium, and other Rock palaces in California; to Boston's Catacombs, the Main Point Club in Philadelphia, and the Warehouse in Providence, among other East Coast spots; to blues festivals at Ann Arbor, Michigan; Madison, Wisconsin; Nashville, and the University of Chicago; and to radio and TV programs. Duster Bennett and other white artists have incorporated Magic Sam material into the British blues scene. But the West Side is Sam's home, and here he plays on most weekends when in town, usually with a trio, at clubs such as the L & A Lounge at 14th & Pulaski, the 1815 Club on West Roosevelt Road, and saxophonist Eddie Shaw's Place, 4423 West Madison. Blue Mondays often find Sam rocking in the all-night jam sessions at Eddie Shaw's Place. Rolling Stone has called Magic Sam "the foremost blues and soul performer on the West Side for the past ten years ... a living legend in the Chicago area." Sam Maghett moved to Chicago from Mississippi with his family in 1950, and made his first blues bar appearance in 1955, when he was 18. Two years later, he cut his first singles "All Your Love" and "Everything Gonna Be Alright", on the Cobra label. Sam starred at night spots on the South, West, and Near North Sides - the 708 Club, Sylvio's, the Copacabana, Club Alex, Cal's Corner, Pepper's, Mother Blues - and every couple of years another label would record Sam. Cobra released four Magic Sam 78s in 1957-58, and Sam had four singles on Chief in 1960-61. He made only one record from then until 1966, when he cut some sides for Crash. Delmark's Sweet Home Chicago anthology (Delmark 618) includes some tracks made that year by Sam. His fame has since spread, and the success of West Side Soul has earned Sam a new and larger following. "I play the blues," says Sam. "I am a bluesman, but not the dated blues - the modern type of blues, I'm the modern type of bluesman. But I can play the regular stuff, and I am also a variety guy. I can play the soul stuff too." Sam cites the arrangement and the beat as the only difference between blues and soul. Sam digs the close atmosphere of blues bars, but also enjoys the more prosperous gigs he's had at concert halls and festivals. He has played the Guild Theatre in Louisville, the Black Dome in Cincinnati, and Concerts in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Portland, Maine, and the University of Massachusetts in addition to those previously mentioned. Taj Mahal and some of the new blues/rock groups have impressed Sam. "Those guys, I say in their bag they are excellent. I respect them for what they're doing," he says. "They're makin' money. They gotta be good." When not on tour, Sam's at a blues bar, or maybe off on a fishing trip on weekends, and during the day he takes care of his four children. "I sit around and babysit, play my guitar, watch the ball game, barbecue - hey, don't forget that barbecuing. Magic Sam is the West Side's Barbecue Soul Brother," he laughs. Delmark's West Side Soul and Sweet Home Chicago represent some of the major recordings to come from the West Side as these notes are written. Sam says, "Guys from the West Side don't do much recording because you only have a handful of guys that actually live over on the West Side. You got a lot of guys that play on the West Side but they don't live there." The West Side's rough reputation has kept much of the potential blues audience away because of fear of racial misunderstanding, but white college students and assorted bluesfreaks are frequent patrons at some clubs. "Have no fear - really enjoy yourself," Sam advises. "I'm sure you people feel a little 'something - that's going to happen to you automatically anywhere you go. You can go into your own people's place and if you ain't been there for three months, you're gonna feel some kind of something." Sam doesn't deny the violence on the West Side, but, as he says the victims are always "our own people". Sam still plays only the West Side clubs when he's in town. "Well, I started out on the South Side," he explains. "But like go on the South Side now and lookin' for a gig? No. I could be wrong but I don't like the South Side. They don't accept a guy and they don't turn out and appreciate like the West Side." "The West Side is more acceptable of any dadgum thing," says Sam. "They appreciate it and they like it, what you play - blues, rock 'n' roll or what have you, fix it all up for 'em, they enjoy it. If you play strictly blues, you'll still have a whole house like anybody else that's with rock, because they really like blues ... You can play somethin' else and they'll accept that . . . if you got a blues-jazz thing, they'll accept that too. Everybody's happy." - Jim O'Neal
From the original CD liner note
Magic Sam has become a somewhat mythical figure in the blues pantheon. Thankfully he has not been forgotten, and his stature has only grown as his influence continues to spread and as more and more recordings have surfaced by this man who only saw two albums and 11 singles released during his lifetime. Magic Sam has become one of those rare artists whose every recorded outtake, studio utterance, and informal taping at home or live performance seems destined to be issued. Magic Sam and his first two Delmark albums, West Side Soul and Black Magic, have been elected to the Blues Hall of Fame. Amidst all the praise and glory heaped posthumously upon Magic Sam and his music, we perhaps, still ought to pause to consider the lifelong struggle Sam Maghett endured to achieve what he did. The outline of his career is by now familiar to many: starting out with a one-string guitar on a wall in Mississippi, moving to Chicago in 1950, teaming up with Syl Johnson, Mac Thompson and Shakey Jake, historic singles for the Cobra label and a few others, famed West Side club gigs, the Delmark albums, the 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival and the American Folk Blues Festival in Europe, the West Coast tour just before his death, the big plans for the future that he never lived to fulfill. The story of the obstacles Magic Sam faced is not nearly so familiar. Sam Maghett was born on Valentine's Day, 1937, and in befitting fashion, "He was a very sweet child," his aunt Lilly P. Brough recalls. "You didn't have a minute's problem." But tragedy struck early in Sam's life when his mother, Hetha Anna, died young. Sam and his younger brother James were raised mostly by their great-grandmother Lou Anna Knox, and then by Lilly after their move to Chicago. Hetha Anna suffered from diabetes and pellagra, Lilly says, and health problems just seemed to run in the family. Lilly, now 72, has outlived all of the children she raised (James recently succumbed to cancer), and she regards her own long life as nothing short of a miracle – “I was sick all of my life. Ever since I've been a grown woman I can't remember nothin' but I was takin' pills ... I've been operated on my stomach, I've been cut open 20 times." Sam grew up on the old Henderson place, a farm eight miles east of Grenada, Mississippi. As they grew older, the boys' father, Jessie "Futell" Maghett put them to work in the fields. Lilly Brough remembers, "His daddy wanted 'em to stay down and help him. But his wife had got where she was really mean, everybody was sayin'. And Mr. Rose and Mrs. Ware, they called me, they were white, and told me to come get those childrens or send after them. Mr. Rose say, 'You can send me their fare and I know they'll get on the train.' And that's what I did. "His daddy wanted him to work on a farm. Well, he tried it. He would plow, he was a little boy, but if he couldn't do it like his daddy wanted him, he would scold after him ... and after he went to abuse 'em, I sent the money right on, put 'em on the train, both of 'em. "And they came up here, they went to school, and he wasn't a bad child, not at all. He went to school and he would come home and would sit down. He said, 'I'm gon' play me some music.' I said, 'Boy-!' He said, 'That's what I want to do and that's been what I wanted to do all my life.'" Farming, school, work - Sam really cared for none of it, Lilly says. Only the music. "That was his thing. I think he could play music better'n he could eat. 'Cause he'd eat a little bit and get that box and blow a harmonica - any part in his band that somebody was absent, he could take up their part ... if his bass player wasn't there, he would let somebody else play lead and he would play bass. If his piano player wasn't there, he would play the piano. The drum. He played any part in there. He was just a music child." Sam discovered one of the benefits of playing music early on when he performed at a school assembly in Chicago. He told Bill Lindemann he "went home with a pocketful of telephone numbers" from female admirers. He enjoyed the musicians' life and from Lilly's perspective, had little to worry about: "I don't see why. 'Cause he had all kind of womens and he didn't have the money, they had it. They'd help him out, buy him beautiful uniforms, and yeah, he didn't suffer for nothin'. I'll say that." Sam had his pleasures in life - women, the cameraderie of fellow musicians, fishing trips, barbecues, ball games on TV, his children, and the release of inner tensions in his music. He was known for his warmth and fun-loving spirit. "Sam was a most gracious and entertaining man," Dick Shurman wrote in Blues Unlimited. "He was fond of commenting that he was a spare rib cook first and a bluesman second, and was generally good natured."
But there were frustrations. In 1959, when he still had a hot name in Chicago from his Cobra recordings, he was drafted into the army. Syl Johnson told Living Blues: "Let him alone - he would have been nationwide. Uncle Sam's jive army took him away and ruined his career. He didn't want to go, so he ran away ... he deserted the army, you know ... they put him in jail for six months and he came back out and he hid for a while and then he wasn't Magic Sam anymore, like he used to be." Neither the Cobra sides nor any of his other records ever became national chart hits, despite their renown among blues fans today. Still, after the traumatic experience with the army, Sam eventually reestablished himself as a Chicago nightclub favorite. However, he had the local musicians' union to contend with. "They fined Sam $IOOO," Shakey Jake told Pete Welding. "At the time of his death he still owed on it... I had to get him back in the union; they didn't want him and as far as they were concerned, he could go work in a steel mill." In his Blues Unlimited article (aptly titled "Out Of Bad Luck") Dick Shurman reported, "He was shot in the leg before a tour to follow up his first album and that was far from the first time such an event occurred." On top of that, Sam ran into management problems, further hindering what must have been an aching desire to grab for the fame and fortune his talent should have brought him. In 1969, on a tour as opening act for Charlie Musselwhite, Sam collapsed in Louisville and had to be hospitalized In Chicago. His manager, according to Bob Koester, "had refused to let him come home after a coronary incident on the road." Recalling "Magic Sam's Last Days" for Blues Unlimited, Koester wrote: "His doctors at first thought he had bronchitis but he was later placed in County Hospital when it seemed that he actually had a heart attack." Sam looked rejuvenated when he came back from Europe, Koester noted, but another strenuous tour was in the offing: "He went to California to play a few jobs set by his old manager whom he wanted to settle matters with, came home looking bitter but healthy, complaining that he had hardly made plane fare ... Shakey Jake later said he loaned Sam some money to return to Chicago, that Sam had been in a state of great emotional tension, had trembled when he told his manager that would be 'the last time you see me' - how terribly prophetic." "He was out in California, his aunt Lilly (whom Sam called "Mama") recalled, "and he played, and he stood up and told 'em, 'I'm gonna lay this guitar down.' Said, 'I'm sick and I ain't gon' be with you all long. But I'm goin' home where I can be with my mama. I can die with her.' And he did. He got here on Friday night. That Sunday night he went to bed. He was sick all that night. That mornin' nine o'clock they called me and told me to come around there as quick as I could. And before I could get there he was through. He was through ... "But he had a beautiful life ... Always said, "I'm gonna get my own band." And he got his own band, and him and his own band, they went. They naturally went... And he say he was gon' make records. When he leave here, he'd have somethin' that we all would never forget him about, and he sure have. He did that."
- Jim O'Neal, Founding Co-Editor, Living Blues
From the notes to The Magic Sam Legacy (Delmark 651)
It's painful to write about Magic Sam if you spent any amount of time with him. The fierce power of his music was not reflected in his happy-go-lucky personality. Playing with his kids, barbecuing ribs in his back yard on a West Side summer's day, tending bar at the L&A in the afternoon or playing there at night -- he was always the same man.
He acted as though he hadn't a care in the world but, tragically, just as he was on the brink of full recognition... as he planned the recording sessions for the third Delmark album which would enable him to move up to a major label... as he got rid of a manager who had refused to let him return after a coronary incident on the road... as he signed on with Dick Waterman for management and booking... as the sun rose one Sunday morning, complaining of fatigue, he lay down to rest and died of a heart problem of which he was only recently aware.
I first heard Magic Sam on one of his great Cobra 45s, later in person at the original Alex Club at Roosevelt and Loomis on Chicago's West Side c. 1962. It was a spectacular entrance -- Muddy Waters called him up to the bandstand. Sam tripped on an electric cord and sparks flew! His playing and singing were even more electrifying! From time to time we caught him at various West Side spots such as the Alex or Sylvio's. and finally, in a tiny impoverished bar at Chicago and Milwaukee, he signed a Delmark contract.
Delmark had only recently released the first LP of a working Chicago blues band playing as they did in a club: Hoodoo Man Blues (Delmark 612) by Junior Wells and the mellow Buddy Guy house band at Theresa's. It had been well-received and started an avalanche of LP blues recording activity in Chicago for local, national and international labels. But the stinging, biting, rough-and-ready West Side guitar-dominated sound of a band such as Magic Sam's was bound to be less easily received by Delmark's clientele of young white blues fans who were phasing into blues from folk music. WRONG! I wasn't listening to pop music. Electric rock based heavily on British interest in South Side Chicago blues, Cream, Big Brother, The Grateful Dead, and the early daring Albert King bookings at San Francisco rock ballrooms had already opened a lot of minds and ears.
West Side Soul (Delmark 615), that first album, got a few breaks in the rock media. Perhaps the distinctive cover design by Zbigniew Jastrzebski helped. Rolling Stone, whose blues coverage was usually limited to obituaries, gave it a rave review! Cheetah, published by a chain of rock ballrooms coast-to-coast, ran a cover feature! Word-of-mouth approbation by Canned Heat (certainly the best blues-educated American rock band), John Mayall, and Janis Joplin helped the cause by talking up the album. Delmark distribution was pretty spotty then but it got better. There was even a photo layout by Chicago's great Skrebneski in Coq depicting a young lady divesting herself under the influence of the album, with all sidemen credited!
Dick Waterman and his secretary Bonnie Raitt undertook to book Sam, who managed to make it to L.A. for his opening at the Ash Grove with his leg in a cast. Blues record distribution was particularly spotty there and sales were never commensurate with the reputation Sam had with the media. But someone bought up Shakey Jake's management contract with Sam, made a call to sever the relationship with Waterman and another to try to sever with Delmark so Sam's further bookings were in Chicago ghetto bars (the very few North Side white blues bars of that time rarely booked blacks) or play-for-the-door gigs in California. Sam was the intro act for Charlie Musselwhite when he was asked to the Ann Arbor Blues Festival. The manager declined at first but Sam squeezed it in when John Fishel suggested that Sam play with a pickup band from Chicago between tightly scheduled flights from California.
In spite of attempts by his manager for Sam to no-show or cancel recording sessions, a second album, Black Magic (Delmark 620), was issued and relations with Dick Waterman and Delmark improved. We agreed to early recording of the third album followed by release from his Delmark contract so Sam could go with Stax one Friday night. I typed up the release on Saturday. On Monday, I got a call from the funeral home. Samuel Maghett had passed away on December 1st, 1969.
Sam's funeral sadly paid little attention to his career. Otis Clay sang beautifully. Dick Waterman and numerous blues artists were there.
- Robert G. Koester
Let me mention my concept of the difference in south and west side Chicago blues. Though all blues is rooted in the folk music of the South, there’s a mellow quality to the south-siders’ music (Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Junior Wells) that hints at a closer identity to the country blues. The west-siders reflect their more dangerous environment; mostly white cops (too often looking for a bribe), mob ownership of many of the clubs, a greater crime (including murder) problem - all reflected in the more stinging guitar and vocal sound of Magic Sam, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, etc. White blues fans who would go to south side blues clubs, especially if they were close to Hyde Park, often seemed to be afraid to go to clubs on the west side. Until the 70s the blues in the white bars were by the whites who had learned from the ghetto bars: Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, etc. appeared at folk clubs and Big John’s, Fickle Pickle, Biddy Mulligan’s and Wise Fools (which had been a jazz club). I remember when Junior Wells broke the color line at one club where I was offered free beer to assure than he would play as he did at Theresa’s and not change for the white audience. He didn’t except to sing from out in the street on one tune. Yes, Howling Wolf’s mellow blues were mostly heard at Sylvio’s on the west side but Wolf lived on the south side, as did Buddy Guy. And, of course, Buddy could merge his stinging guitar with Junior’s mellow harp and vocals.
At the first really big blues festival in Ann Arbor, Sam’s agent said it would be too expensive for his band to come back to Chicago from a tight west coast schedule but Dick Waterman knew that he could use other Chicago sidemen in order to cut the airfare expense. He did the festival and a tour headlined by Charlie Musselwhite. When Sam’s manager caused him to not show up for a Delmark recording date, we again knew he was with an impossible manager. But just before his death, Sam signed with Dick Waterman who was then the agent for a blues artist until his management of his former secretary Bonnie Raitt became a fulltime job.
Bob Koester, October, 2015