James VanOsdol

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Will the Rolling Stones Jumpstart the Chicago Blues Sound?

“Could the Rolling Stones’ new album boost Chicago blues?”

DNA Info asked the question, and the answer is “Maybe? Hopefully?” It’s no secret the Stones owe a huge debt to the blues, and “Blue & Lonesome” will feature covers of songs from Chicago blues-playing legends like Willie Dixon and Magic Sam.

It would be awesome if this album could give Chicago blues a higher profile. If the blues don’t usually hit your radar, here are a few songs to get you going:

Big Bill Broonzy “Key to the Highway”
Broonzy was there at the beginning of what became the Chicago blues sound. The Stones recorded “Key to the Highway” at Chess back in the early 60s, and a trace of the song appears at the end of their “Dirty Work” album.

Howlin’ Wolf “Smokestack Lightning”
Recorded in Chicago 60 years ago, “Smokestack Lightning” remains one of the blues’ greatest moments.

Koko Taylor “Wang Dang Doodle”

Willie Dixon wrote it, but Koko owned it. So what, exactly, is a Wang Dang Doodle? A damn good time, apparently.

Magic Sam “That’s All I Need”
“No blues guitarist better represented the adventurous modern sound of Chicago’s West side more than (Magic Sam)” – Allmusic

Muddy Waters “I’m Ready”
Hard to pick just one Muddy song, but here goes. This early version (1954) is one of the first modern blues songs (and another Dixon composition). It’s also worth listening to the version of “I’m Ready” that Muddy did with Johnny Winter for the 1978 album of the same name.

Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band with Buddy Guy “Snatch It Back and Hold It”
Buddy and Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band blow the roof off Chicago blues with the opening track on Wells’ first album. Buddy’s first solo album would follow a couple years later.

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