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Mean Town Blues

Johnny Winter

John Dawson Winter III (February 23, 1944 – July 16, 2014), known as Johnny Winter, was an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Best known for his high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances in the late 1960s and 1970s, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters. After his time with Waters, Winter recorded several Grammy-nominated blues albums. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was ranked 63rd in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

Johnny Winter was born in Beaumont, Texas, on February 23, 1944. Winter, with younger brother Edgar (born 1946), was nurtured at an early age by their parents in musical pursuits. Johnny and his brother, both of whom were born with albinism, began performing at an early age. When he was ten years old, the brothers appeared on a local children’s show, singing Everly Brothers songs, with Johnny playing ukelele.

His recording career began at the age of fifteen, when his band Johnny and the Jammers released “School Day Blues” on a Houston record label. During this same period, he was able to see performances by classic blues artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Bobby Bland. In the early days, Winter would sometimes sit in with Roy Head and the Traits when they performed in the Beaumont area, and in 1967, Winter recorded a single with the Traits: “Tramp” backed with “Parchman Farm” (Universal Records 30496). In 1968, he released his first album The Progressive Blues Experiment, on Austin’s Sonobeat Records.

Editors note: One of the finest guitar players of the last century. Johnnies guitar work on this song alone is a masterpiece of single guitar execution. The sound from his one guitar is not possible from multi guitars in many multi guitar bands.


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Taj Mahal

Leaving Trunk

Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an American blues musician. He often incorporates elements of world music into his works. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, piano, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50-year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.

Born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, Jr. on May 17, 1942 in Harlem, New York, Mahal grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. Raised in a musical environment, his mother was a member of a local gospel choir and his father was a West Indian jazz arranger and piano player. His family owned a shortwave radio which received music broadcasts from around the world, exposing him at an early age to world music. Early in childhood he recognized the stark differences between the popular music of his day and the music that was played in his home. He also became interested in jazz, enjoying the works of musicians such as Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Milt Jackson. His parents came of age during the Harlem Renaissance, instilling in their son a sense of pride in his West Indian and African ancestry through their stories.

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John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

Out of Reach


“Out of Reach” originally appeared on the B-side of a non-hit single in early 1967. Though credited to John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, this is really fronted by Peter Green, who wrote and sang the song. While it’s since been made readily available on album reissue, it still remains frightfully unknown, even to many blues-rock, Mayall, and Green fans. Despite its obscurity, it endures as the first real full flowering of Green’s peculiar brand of tortured genius. “Out of Reach,” melodically, is a basic blues; there’s nothing extraordinary about its chord structure, other than perhaps a greater emphasis on minor chords than most blues. What is extraordinary, though, is the eerie arrangement. It’s hard to take a blues song, or a song in any popular music idiom, slower than “Out of Reach” is taken by the Bluesbreakers. The tempo is a lurching dirge-shuffle, one of the guitar parts wavering between notes as if it’s part of an old tape that’s wearing out and speeding up and down due to technical problems. That effect is deliberate, though, adding some otherwordly despair to Green’s icily reverbed lead guitar licks. The lyrics, sung movingly if gruffly by Green, are even by the standards of the blues downcast, almost to the point of hinting at a suicidal state of mind. The foggy gloom is magnified by the drawn-out, hypnotic tempo, periodically punctuated by parts at which the band comes to a stuttering halt for Green to deliver particularly emotional lines of the verse. The solo sparkles, especially at the very end, when it descends and almost trails off into nothingness, ending on a whimsical note progression that very few standard blues guitarists would have chosen. Green’s final sides with Fleetwood Mac have long been analyzed for their indication of a troubled mind whose demons were getting the better of him, causing him to question the whole meaning of his life. “Out of Reach,” seldom brought into such commentaries, indicates that his propensities for such work were already in evidence in his Bluesbreakers days and stands up to most of his best Fleetwood Mac work in its level of bummed-out brilliance.

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Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

Merry Go Round

(Editors note: Youngsters will remember Fleetwood Mac for the best selling album “Rumours” with Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Long before the pop group, Fleetwood Mac was bending strings as an English Blues Band fronted by Peter Green.)

Fleetwood Mac, also known as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, is the debut album by the band Fleetwood Mac, released in 1968. The album is a mixture of blues covers and originals penned by guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, who also share the vocal duties.

The release of the album brought the band overnight success; in the UK, the album reached No. 4 and stayed on the charts 37 weeks, despite the lack of a hit single. The album barely made the charts in the US, reaching No. 198. Even though the album has sold over a million copies in the U.K., it has never received a certification there. As of June 2015, the album has sold over 150,000 copies in the U.S.

Fleetwood Mac are a British-American rock band formed in July 1967, in London. The band have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. In 1998, selected members of Fleetwood Mac were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.

The two most successful periods for the band were during the late 1960s British blues boom, when they were led by guitarist Peter Green and achieved a UK number one with “Albatross”; and from 1975 to 1987, as a more pop-oriented act, featuring Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

An expanded version of this album was included in the box set The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions.

Peter Green (born Peter Allen Greenbaum; 29 October 1946) is a British blues rock guitarist and the founder of the band Fleetwood Mac. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 for his work with the group, Green’s songs such as “Albatross”, “Black Magic Woman”, “Oh Well” and “Man of the World” have been recorded by artists such as Santana, Aerosmith, Status Quo, Black Crowes, Midge Ure, Tom Petty, Judas Priest and Gary Moore, who recorded Blues for Greeny, a covers album of Green’s compositions.

A major figure and bandleader in the “second great epoch” of the British blues movement, Green inspired B.B. King to say, “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page have both lauded his guitar playing. Green’s playing was noted for its idiomatic string bending and vibrato and economy of style.

He was ranked 38th in Rolling Stone‘s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. His tone on the “The Supernatural” was rated as one of the 50 greatest of all time by Guitar Player. In June 1996 Green was voted the third-best guitarist of all time in Mojo magazine.

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Black Magic Woman

Black Magic Woman” is a song written by Peter Green that first appeared as a Fleetwood Mac single in various countries in 1968, subsequently appearing on the 1969 Fleetwood Mac compilation albums English Rose (US) and The Pious Bird of Good Omen (UK), as well as Vintage Years. In 1970, it became a classic hit by Santana, as sung by Gregg Rolie, reaching No. 4 in the U.S. and Canadian charts, after appearing on their Abraxas album. In 2005 the song was covered by ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Snowy White on his album The Way It Is. In 1996, the song was also covered by Gary Hoey on his album Bug Alley.

Set in the key of D minor, the verse follows a twelve bar chord progression alternating between D minor7, A minor7, and G minor7, and the instrumentation consists of vocals, two guitars, bass guitar and drums. It is homophonic, the voice and lead guitar taking the lead roles. The song is set in common time (4/4), with the rhythm “pushing” on the upbeat, then breaking into a shuffle beat root -chord jam after the final verse.

D minor 7 | D minor 7 | A minor 7 | A minor 7 | D minor 7 | D minor 7 | G minor 7 | G minor 7 | Dm 7 – C 7 | Bb 7 – A 7 | D minor7 | D minor 7

The original recording by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac featured guitars that were slightly below standard pitch, probably due to them being tuned to a piano or another guitar in the recording studio (very much reminiscent of The Rolling Stones). For most performances, it is played in standard, although to create a performance more faithful to the original recording, the low E string could be tuned down to D.

The haunting D minor triad from the 17 fret is played out on one guitar, and a slide guitar playing the same chord is faded in over the top.

Editors note; Singing lead vocals is Gregg Rolie and protege guitarist with bushy afro hair style and buckskin shirt, Neal Scheon both of which would team up to form Journey.


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The Pusherman

Steppenwolf is a Canadian-American rock group that was prominent from 1968 to 1972. The group was formed in late 1967 in Toronto by vocalist John Kay, keyboardist Goldy McJohn and drummer Jerry Edmonton. Guitarist Michael Monarch and bassist Rushton Moreve were recruited by notices placed in LA area record stores and musical instrument stores. The essential core of Steppenwolf was John Kay, Jerry Edmonton and Goldy McJohn from The Sparrows(originally Jack London & the Sparrows from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada).

Steppenwolf sold over 30 million records worldwide, releasing eight gold albums and twelve Billboard Hot 100singles, of which six were Top 40 hits, including three Top 10 successes: “Born to Be Wild”, written by Dennis Edmonton, “Magic Carpet Ride”, and “Rock Me.” Steppenwolf enjoyed worldwide success from 1968 to 1972, but clashing personalities led to the end of the core lineup. Today, frontman John Kay is the only original member, having served as lead singer since 1967.

The name change from The Sparrows (The Sparrow) to Steppenwolf was suggested to John Kay by Gabriel Mekler, being inspired by Hermann Hesse’s novel of the same name. Steppenwolf’s first two singles were “A Girl I Knew” and “Sookie Sookie”. The band finally rocketed to worldwide fame after their third single “Born to Be Wild” was released in 1968, as well as their version of Hoyt Axton’s “The Pusher”. Both of these tunes were used prominently in the 1969 counterculture cult film Easy Rider (both titles originally had been released on the band’s debut album). In the movie, “The Pusher” accompanies a drug deal, and Peter Fonda stuffing dollar bills into his Stars & Stripes-clad fuel tank, after which “Born to Be Wild” is heard in the opening credits, with Fonda and Dennis Hopper riding their Harley choppers through the America of the late 1960s. The song, which has been closely associated with motorcycles ever since, introduced to rock lyrics the signature term “heavy metal” (though not about a kind of music, but about a motorcycle: “I like smoke and lightning, heavy metal thunder, racin’ with the wind…”). Written by Sparrow guitarist Dennis Edmonton who had begun using the pen name Mars Bonfire and inspired by a billboard roadside advertisement Bonfire liked which depicted a motorcycle tearing through the billboard artwork, the song had already reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1968. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

The group’s following albums had several more hit singles, including “Magic Carpet Ride” (which reached No. 3) from Steppenwolf The Second and “Rock Me” (with its bridge lasting 1:06, which reached No. 10) from At Your Birthday Party. It also sold in excess of one million units. Monster, which questioned US policy of the Nixonera, was the band’s most political album. Following the Monster album from 1969, the following year (1970) the band released what is regarded as their strongest album,Steppenwolf 7, which included the song “Snowblind Friend”, another Hoyt Axton-penned song about the era and attitudes of drugs and associated problems. The band lineup reached its peak in the opinion of most fans with this album and their live performances in the middle of 1970 with John Kay, Jerry Edmonton, Goldy McJohn,Larry Byrom and George Biondo. Unfortunately this lineup was also unable to remain together as Byrom became upset with McJohn over personal issues and quit the band in the early part of 1971.

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Ray Charles

Confession Blues

Confession Blues” is a song by The Maxin Trio released in 1949 as a single on the Down Beat Records label (later known as Swing Time). The single featured American rhythm and blues (R&B) musician Ray Charles on piano and vocals. The song was written by Charles under his birth name Ray Charles Robinson (listed on the recording credits as R. C. Robinson).

Charles moved to Seattle in 1948, where he formed The McSon Trio with guitarist G. D. “Gossie” McKee and bass player Milton S. Garret. In late 1948, Jack Lauderdale of Down Beat Records heard Charles play at the Seattle jazz club, The Rocking Chair. The next day, Lauderdale took Charles and his trio to a Seattle recording studio where they recorded “Confession Blues” and “I Love You, I Love You”. In February 1949, the two songs were released as Down Beat record number 171 with “Confession Blues” as the B-side. The group’s name—The McSon Trio—was inadvertently listed as The Maxin Trio on the record. “Confession Blues” became the first single by Charles record to chart. The song, as well as much of Charles’ early work, was grounded in the style of Nat King Cole and Charles Brown. “Confession Blues” entered the charts in early April 1949 at No. 11 on the Billboard Best Selling Retail Race Records chart (renamed the Retail Rhythm & Blues Records chart a short time later). It peaked at No. 5 in mid-May 1949.

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