A Best Of: Blues/ Blues Rock/ Rock ‘N’ Roll Vol. 1

So, I’m a huge blues lover and subsequent listener. There’s something very humane and authentic about good blues. Blues is an all-encompassing, profound genre that affects all of us differently upon listening to it. If you ever need a blues recommendation, you’ve come to the right part of the blogosphere.

My journey with the blues (that I can remember) started with my parents’ music, especially my dad’s. He was a moderate George Thorogood/The Doors fan when I was young. Thus, I grew up with Thorogood and Morrison and Co. playing around the house once in awhile. My love for blues/its sub-genres increased and expanded dramatically during my junior year in high school. During this time, I grew to love Muddy Waters’ fuzzed-out “Electric Mud”; The Doors’ reimagining of Willie Dixon’s/Howlin’ Wolf’s “Back Door Man”; and Robert Johnson’s complete works, especially “Dust My Broom” and “Love in Vain” (those two songs helped me throughout high school and hold a significant place in my heart).

When I got to college, I considered blues the genre, along with punk and proto-punk. While my interest in the latter has waned drastically since my first year at college, my connection with the blues has only grown. It’s pure, untethered music for the soul. Lately, I’ve been into heavier, electrified blues and heavy rock. As such, tonight we’ll take a look at ten (or so) of my favorite blues rock songs currently.

Why ten (or so)? Because arbitrariness is in style…

Granted, some of these tracks might be more straight-blues than blues rock; they’re included in this (tentative/and arbitrarily ranked) list simply because they rock like hell. So, they’re all excellent examples what good rock ‘n’ rock does: electrifies the fucking soul, body ‘n’ mind!

1: “Baby With You Please Help Me”/ “Gone and Left Me” – Charlie Musselwhite/His Southside Band; “Two Trains Running” – The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

So this song has been on my mind for about a month and a half or so. This song hits hard. It’s explosive and really in-your-god-damn-face. Musselwhite’s amateurish, rough-and-rocky vocals (along with his harp work) combined with the band’s great backing instrumentations make this song my favorite blues rock song of the Fall. It is the blues, in such a way that I think Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, Hound Dog Taylor, Canned Heat and numerous other bands/artists are/have come to represent the genre. Let’s include Musselwhite in that blues pantheon. Wild, feral blues.

What another absolutely volatile, soul-shattering blues number? See: “Gone and Left Me”.

For Thanksgiving, my dad and I listened to the blues whilst we drove. He had never heard of the PB Blues Band. Well, I changed that. Out of the car speakers, came their take on “Shake Your Money Maker”. Borrowing from the likes of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Fred McDowell, “Two Trains Running” is my current favorite blues song, tied with the two Musselwhite tunes listed (“She alright with me…she alright…she alright with me…).

All: 9/10

2: Fireman Ring the Bell – R.L. Burnside

Definitely more of a swampy, rustic blues number. Nevertheless, this song rocks me viciously. I’ve heard John Lee Hooker, Son House and a couple of others use this as a backdrop to tell their own stories (as Burnside does no doubt), but Burnside’s unique take moves me in just the right way right now. NOTE: The version I listen to the most comes from the “Rollin’ & Tumblin'” compilation.

9/10

3: “Rumble” – Link Wray

So, can an instrumental glaringly reach down into your soul and utterly demolish it like a wrecking ball? Sure. Just listen to this.

9/10

4: Boogie Chillen No. 2 – Hooker ‘N’ Heat

JLH’s simply the man. No doubt. He just is. Combine his terrific, “made for the blues” voice with the expertise and authenticity of Canned Heat (one of my favorite blues bands), and you get a stellar album closer. This is a riveting reimagining of Hooker’s most famous song, namely “Boogie Chillen”. Whereas the earlier version is a bit more relaxed and steady, “No. 2” is a balls-to-the-walls, fiery approach. So god damn good: air drums and foot-tappin’ are coming.

8/10

5: On the Beach – The Faces

The beach, the booze, and the blues. Give it a listen, will ya? This song is relaxing as hell. Sometimes good blues and rock doesn’t have to be exhilarating; it just has to take you on an unassailable ride.

8/10

6: Three O’clock Blues – B.B. King 

I’ve never been the biggest B.B. listener (Freddie’s much more up my alley). But, this song is simply excellent. Mired in a certain boundless kind of kingly energy and desperation, this song kicks my ass through and through.

8/10

7: Crazy Mama – The Rolling Stones

How does my current favorite Stones song for the last month come from an underwhelming album? I’m not entirely sure; it just does. This is a hard-hitting, blistering rock song. Ok, so maybe the numerical listing of this post was arbitrary! I’m listening to this as I write and it’s fucking dynamite.

9/10

Hope you all enjoyed this post. Take care.

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