My Choice Of The Best Blues Recordings

In between 1995 and 1996, I hosted a radio programme on one of the local radio stations in Hong Kong FM Select 104. The name of the programme was All Blues Hours. Every Saturday night between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. I would do the programme live in the studio then situated in Whampoa. Every Saturday night between those two hours, I put Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Robert Nighthawk, Tempa Red, Sonny Boy Williansom and a host of other great Bluesmen on the air. In Hong Kong, few people had any experience with the Blues. For that matter, not only the Blues but basically any kind of music other than Cantonese pop music. The radio music programmes in Hong Kong are simply abysmal. All day long you hear nothing but Cantonese pop music. When in some programmes the DJ’s play something other than Cantonese pop, they play pop stuff over and over again. I cannot tell you how many times I heard The Greatest Love Of All, Hotel California on the radio when I am in a taxi. That is alright if you have a choice. In Hong Kong you just don’t have the choice. I would like to think the DJ's in Hong Kong are just playing safe, but I have an unpleasant feeling that they know nothing but pop music; they have probably never ever picked up a book to read about the history of modern music. Yet they feel confident enough to host raido shows and feed the public with what, or what little, they know.

Contrary to all expectations, All Blues Hours generated a lot of interest. I received many phone calls during the show asking me what song I was playing, where could one get the CD. I was thrilled. In what little way I could, I tried to introduce the Blues to a wider audience in Hong Kong. I remember going to the record library at the radio station looking for some Blues CDs. Apart from one or two B.B. King CDs, I could find nothing. It was depressing to say the least. So every Saturday I went to the radio station with CDs from my own collection.

These days a lot of customers and young people ask me about the Blues, its history and asked me to recommend some good Blues recordings. A lot them thought Gary Moore is playing Blues, so many of them pointed to the Robert Johnson picture in 48th Street and asked me who that was. Of the young people I met at 48th Street, few ever heard of Muddy Waters, none heard of Elmore James. Many told me I must play "Still Got The Blues" as played by Gary Moore since I play the Blues and "Still Got The Blues" is such a famous Blues tune. I really don't know what to say. I really don't know what can I say. Many times I felt like shaking my head and simply walk away.

I have chosen here some of what to me are the best Blues recordings that had ever been made. Choosing one album as opposed to another is purely a question of personal choice and prejudice. You don’t have to argue with me and I am not going to argue with you. We are not exactly in the High Court. For serious Blues fans, you would probably have all these albums already and any intorduction would be superfulous. But if you are new to the Blues and are trying to find out more about the Blues, this may be a place to start :-

Muddy Waters :

Hard Again

Johnny Winter :

Nothing But The Blues

Robert Johnson :

King Of The Delta Blues

Freddy King :

Just Pickin'

Fleetwood Mac : Mr. Wonderful

Junor Wells :

Hoodoo Man Blues

B.B. King & Sons :

Live in Japan

Fred McDowell :

Mississippi Delta Blues

Jay McShann :

Still Jumping The Blues

Maria Maldaur : Meet Me Where I Play The Blues

Leroy Carr : Accompanied by Scrapper Blackwell

Luther Allison :

Live In Chicago

Elmore James :

King Of The Delta Blues Guitar

Albert King :

Born Under A Bad Sign

Little Walter : Essential Little Walter

Pinetop Perkins : Sweet Black Angel

Sleep John Estes : The Legend Of Sleepy John Estes

Howling Wolf; Howling Wolf and Moaning With The Wolf

John Mayall Bluesbreaker with Eric Clapton



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