RE: What's in your CD player

On the subject of what's playing, I've recently culled a harp song CD from
Muddy Water's Chess Records 3-CD boxed set.  The whole boxed set is
outstanding, but as you might guess, my favorites are the tunes that
prominently feature harps.  It took me three days to go through the tunes
and cherry-pick 22 terrific harp tunes (many tough decisions--22 tunes are
all that would fit on a single CD).  There's a good representation of
Muddy's harp greats, including Little Walter, James Cotton, Carey Bell, Paul
Butterfield, and Paul Oscher.  (Big Walter was conspicuous in his absence;
he must not have recorded much with Muddy at Chess.)  It's a real clinic on
classic Chicago harmonica playing.  I can't get enough of it.

Listening to these 22 songs back to back, one gets a feel for the character
of each harp player.  Little Walter was clearly a thoroughbred, setting the
stage for the rest of Muddy's group.  It seemes that the group revolves
around LW and he had no trouble staying at the center of attention with his
amazing licks.  I was struck by the "sweetness" and tastefulness of LW's
playing.  His wasn't all flashy all the time like I had imagined before my
study of these songs.  Everything was right in its place, and he added
immeasurably to the group.  Cotton is an equally energetic player, but he
didn't seem to captivate the listener or guide the group to the extent that
LW did (IMHO).  Great playing, mind you, just not ~constantly~ leading the
pack like Walter did.  I can see why LW went on to form his own band--even
Muddy's great band didn't offer him the showcase he deserved.  He was
clearly too hot to remain a side-man.

Two other players stand out on their own right.  Butter absolutely shines on
a tune from the "Fathers and Sons" sessions called "Sugar Sweet".  I can't
figure out why this tune didn't make it onto the album--seems like Butter
whips every lick he had in his formidable arsenal to make a one-song Ph.D.
course in blues harp.  Nothing short of astounding.  The other standout,
even though he only made it on only one tune in the boxed set, was Paul
Oscher.  His playing was great on "Going Down Slow", but his ~tone~ was

So everybody, I am digging this thread, but I'd like to know more about
~why~ y'all picked the CD's you did.

Michelle (with the CD blasting, harp in her mouth, and a big grin on her

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