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Album Wed Nov 10 2010

Live in Boston 1966: Junior Wells and the Aces


Buddy Guy may have achieved a greater fame (and has a certain eponymous South Loop club to boost his immortality), but Chicago music owes nearly as much to his frequent collaborator and friend Junior Wells. A harmonica player who learned from Little Walter's style and created something all his own, Junior released his landmark album Hoodoo Man Blues in 1965. Live in Boston 1966 finds Junior fresh on tour for that album minus one "Friendly Chap" (the alias Buddy had to adapt due to contractual conflicts with Chess Records), but is joined by the Aces - Louis and Dave Myers on guitar and bass, and Fred Below on drums.

Released at the end of September, Delmark's packaging of this concert captures a vibrant set of songs as well as the dialogue in between - while the band's electric forays and tight grooves are on display, so is the showmanship that Junior brought aside from the music. One dialogue segment lasts for about three minutes - Junior goes into stand-up comedian form, talking about how he has to be wary of the "snakes" that will try to flirt with your woman when you finally get her fattened up and healthy. With imitations, asides, and some comic drum and bass fills from the band, Junior shows he's a born entertainer.

But curios aside, the music here gets the spotlight. "The Man Downstairs" finds the gang performing a medley (they didn't have mash-ups in those days) of "Big Boss Man" and "One Way Out" (which casual listens might recognize from the Allman Brothers cover). Junior's classic "Messin' With the Kid" and solo-riffic "Junior's Whoop" hit with like a locomotive - heavy, bellowing smoke, and right on time. "Look On Yonder's Wall" gets Junior into such a frenzy that he starts leading the whole audience in a screaming call and response that even he realizes is too early a peak: "We're gonna have to slow that roll a little bit..."

The band and album find their climax in a seven-minute romp through "Got My Mojo Workin'" - Louis and Fred put sweat on their brows with a frantic electric guitar and snare drum start, but somehow by the time Junior enters three minutes in, you realize they were only flexing a bit before starting the real show. By the time the final two minutes arrive, the Myers brothers are strutting all over their Strats, Fred's adding more fills than you can shake two sticks at, and Junior's wailing it all out through his harp. Delmark has captured a great musician in his prime, and the music makes for a fine history lesson that'll also move your behind.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
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