Little Walter Box Review

The blues world has plenty of guitar heroes.  From Robert Johnson to Buddy to
Eric to Jimi to Stevie.... Harmonica players have theirs too.  And if you
were to ask every harp player on the planet to list their "top 5," I'd be
willing to bet that almost every list would include Little Walter.

I just came across a real gem of an import collection (4 CD's, box) called
"Little Walter - The Chess Years 1952-1963."  I don't really know when this
came out, but the copyright date on it is 1992, so it's not too old.  The
copy on the back reads "These 95 tracks represent all of the available Little
Walter recordings on Chess from 1952-1963."  That's mostly true.... It
represents all of his SOLO recordings from those years, but it does not
include the Muddy Waters sessions or other backing work.  But I can almost
promise that there is something on here that you've never heard.

For 9 out of 10 people, the recent Chess domestic release "The Essential
Little Walter" is enough to get by on.  But if you are a Little Walter
fanatic like myself, this set is a must-find.  In addition to some very good
stuff (the alternate take of "Juke"), there is some very interesting bad
stuff.  The most notable mention in the latter category is a re-released
version of the Willie Dixon classic, "My Babe."  This is the same recording
of "My Babe" with the addition of a very bizarre background chorus.
(Imagine,  if you will, "My Babe" with backing vocals by the cast of the
musical "Hair.")

The liner notes are odd.  They represent the most complete single piece of
writing on Little Walter I've seen.  Technically, they are poorly written and
are rife with grammatical errors and at least a couple factual ones.
However, they are written with great sensitivity, and they convey the genuine
tragedy of Little Walter's life effectively.  The author of the notes, Leslie
Fancourt, deserves praise especially for taking care to end the narrative
with a couple of disarmingly unusual tales of Walter's generosity told by
fellow bluesmen.  Included is an unexpected mention of a partial
reconciliation with blues great and long-time sideman Louis Myers.  Since
most of the tales of Walter's later life show his more tragic side, these
closing comments of Fancourt's provide an interesting perspective.

I don't know where you can find this, but the address on the box is:
Charly Records Limited
156-166 Ilderton Road, London, SE15 INT.

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