Re: [Harp-L] Is Junior Wells over-rated?

Junior Wells live at the Golden Bear is one of my favourite albums. Every
time I play it to when there is a room of people someone always asks who it
is. While they might not be blues aficionados they make positive comments
about his sound. To me it epitomises the blues and I think he conveys great

I think he's awesome. Especially his voice. I'd put him up there with any
other blues singer! Harmonica wise I think its tough to shoot him down for
the players of that era.

My two cents!


On 3 April 2013 15:36, MARK BURNESS <markwjburness@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Hi Dan,
> Jr Wells recorded some seminal work, his playing on Muddy Waters "Standing
> Round Crying/Iodine In My Coffee/Going Down Main Street" (as well as his
> 50's United & States recordings) are outstanding recordings. Pretty much
> encapsulating what post war, amplified Chicago blues harp is. There is no
> one specific sound that is "Chicago amplified harp", but it's hard to think
> of tracks that represent what that phrase might mean to people, better than
> those cuts with Jr?
> His playing became funkier & more stylised, away from the sound he had in
> the 50's, but distinctive and original. Check out Sam Charters' "Chicago -
> the BuesToday" recordings and the footage from Harley Cockliss' "Chicago
> Blues" film.
> I think the Juke story is taken a little out of context, "Juke" only
> appears to have become a definite article with it's recording by Little
> Walter, the alternate take bears little resemblance (he doesn't repeat the
> track note for note on later version either), I don't doubt Jr had a
> similar tempo tune that he used as a theme...may or may not have had the
> same intro (a common motif in blues/jazz)...
> Of course, you're not obliged to like Jr's playing, no point beating your
> head against a wall trying. Just try and look at his contribution in
> context...he had to cut his teeth & earn peer approval in a very
> competetive time & place.
> Music appreciation is subjective & with decades passed, it's easy to look
> back & compare against much that has happened more recently & wonder "what
> was the big deal?"(like I guess Justin Beiber fans do with respect to Elvis
> or Frank Sinatra) , but it's always worth trying to step outside your own
> personal preferences and attempt to be may not appeal to
> you, but does that make it "bad"? Do you have to like it to appreciate it,
> or at least recognise it (this is something I ask myself, when others start
> raving about someone I'd perhaps not choose to listen to through my own
> choice).
> Go back to 1953/54, to the tracks he recorded as a teenager, in the the
> company Chicago blues elite, and apart from the Walters & Sonny Boys, who
> else was there that was streets ahead of, or even on a par
> with, Jr?...It'll be a pretty short list! ;-)
> Regards, Mark.
> ________________________________
> From: Dan Hazen <bluesmandan76@xxxxxxxxx>
> To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Wednesday, 3 April 2013, 17:23
> Subject: [Harp-L] Is Junior Wells over-rated?
> Hey everybody. I'm not wanting to start a firestorm of disagreement, just
> wanting others' heated opinions on the subject (ha-ha). For several years,
> I've tried to listen to and appreciate Junior Wells, but apart from his
> playing on the old recording of Messin' with the Kid, I just do not
> appreciate his playing. His singing is okay, but his playing (please
> forgive me) seems like a lot of sloppy chord work to me, though some of his
> syncopation and 'pops' are good. If you appreciate his style, and have
> particular songs or youtubes that you think are great, I would like to know
> about them, because so far, whenever I hear him play, I think, "meh." I
> want to like him, but just don't. I've read elsewhere (can't recall where)
> that he tried to claim he wrote 'Juke' and Little Walter stole it... a
> claim I find ridiculous, as it certainly doesn't sound anything like the
> other examples of Junior's playing I have heard. In fact, I wonder
> (tongue-in-cheek, folks) if he played the harp on that recording of Messin'
> with the Kid, since it doesn't sound like the other examples of his playing
> I have heard. It's fast, furious, precise, rolling... I like it a lot. The
> little bit of chord work towards the end of the solo is right on. But I
> have yet to see a live version of the track in which Junior plays like he
> did on the recording... parts of his live versions sound similar, but
> chords are way off... as in this version:
>  which contains one of the
> longer examples of him soloing, but it definitely is not like the
> recording... chords are way off to my ears. Great singer, but mediocre harp
> player???
> Humbly yours,
> Troublemaker Dan.

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