If like me, you love watching the old masters at play, then you're in for a
Household names like Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Span, Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon feature alongside lesser stars such as Billy Stepney, Victoria Spivey, Matt ‘Guitar' Murphy and Big Joe Williams.
To use the DVD package notes, the 1960 European tours by American Blues artists were legendary. They introduced a music that had only been previously available on hard-to-find discs to a new generation of young people and changed the face of our popular music forever. Blues fans finally got a chance to see theirs idols in the flesh with many of them caught on film.
This concert, filmed in the UK in black and white, captures the momentous night they all appeared on stage in just over 37 minutes.
Introduced by a very relaxed John Len Chatman aka Memphis Slim sitting at his piano, he was responsible for bringing jump blues to the masses by fronting several bands, making over 500 recordings that included blues standard Every Day I Have The Blues, in 1947. While tinkling away at a 'music bed' of I Hear The Blues, he introduces the gig with, "Thank you very kindly ladies and gentlemen. Tonight we bring you the story of the blues and we have with us many story-tellers. First we'd like to bring a very fine drummer from Chicago... the name of Billy Stepney and on guitar, the one-and-only Matt 'Guitar' Murphy".
First star turn added to the line-up is bassist Willie Dixon who wrote You Shook Me, (made famous on Led Zeppelin 1) Hoochie Coochie Man and Little Red Rooster, famously covered by The Rolling Stones. Here he casually strolls through the humourously stuttering I'm N-N-Nervous to the great delight of his fans. His upright double bass playing is economical to say the least, but exquisite nevertheless.
Next to feature is Guitar Murphy ,who amazingly never had his own band until 1982 and featured in The Blues Brothers and Blues Brothers 2000 films as Aretha Franklin's hen-pecked hubby, which in turn make him one of the hottest guitarists in the States. Here he plays self-penned Matt's Guitar Boogie, which has more rock'n'roll influences than the blues. The tight rhythm section of Dixon and Stepney allow his digital mastery to run riot. Apparently the only man playing a nine-string guitar at the time was Mississippi born Joseph Lee Williams, better known as Big Joe Williams. Big Joe was famous for his Delta Blues style on heavily modified acoustic guitars and here gives an unaccompanied master class on classic Baby Please Don't Go from 1935. It was a big hit for Them, featuring Van Morrison 1964.
They collectively storm through the late Big Bill Broonzy's All By Myself, again featuring some sizzling solos by Dixon and Murphy, with Slim doing a fine job on vocals.
Next we get Alonzo "Lonnie" Johnson on acoustic guitar. He made his name as the first to play single-string solos, which he uses in playing Last Chance Blues. Truly spell-binding stuff. He was a pretty useful singer too. Sweetheart of the 'group' was multi-instrumentalist 'Queen' Victoria Spivey who ivory-tinkles her 1927, T B Blues, in a comic laidback style.
Aleck Ford, aka Sonny Boy Williamson 11, often referred to as 'The King Of The Harmonica' strolls onstage donning a bowler hat, umbrella and brief case, with his harmonica in his jacket's top pocket. Stylishly, he slips into Keep It To Yourself. It's easy to see why he inspired rock legends Robert Plant and Mick Jagger to play the instrument.
Arguably the greatest bluesman of all time - 'Father of Chicago Blues' , five-time Grammy winner McKinley Morganfield, Muddy Waters to you and I, takes to the stage to deliver his signature tune Got My Mojo Working which he recorded in 1957. Famed for his unique guitar sound, he surprisingly turns up with out his axe, which must have disappointed fans. Ending this great gig, the ensemble tuck into a stirring rendition of By Bye Baby, Goodbye.
Due to age, this DVD's material contains a few minor visual glitches, though the audio is excellent.
The verdict - must see-hear.
Bonus material: three audio tracks from Victoria Spivey (Garter Snake Blues) , Lonnie Johnson (Careless Love) and Big Joe Williams (49 Highway Blues), plus images and biographies.