Chicago blues guitar legend Magic Sam left us too soon. Sam Maghett died at age 32 of a heart attack, just on the brink of stardom. He left behind only a few completely realized recordings, most notably the classics West Side Soul and Black Magic. There are some excellent compilations available on Evidence Records, Charly Records, and Blue Horizon Records, but they're just that compilations.
Sam also left behind some early recordings for Cobra Records and for Chief Records as well as a smattering of live performances that occasionally surface some of which have been legitimately released: Magic Touch (Black Top 1992), Live at Ann Arbor & In Chicago (Delmark 1982), and Live at the Alex Club (Delmark 1990). Delmark's Rockin' Wild In Chicago, recorded in the '60s and released last year, is another such recording.
Had he lived, Magic Sam would today be held in the same high esteem as Buddy Guy and other blues guitar gods. Rockin' makes this clear. The Delta-raised guitarist moved to Chicago in 1950 and became a vigorous proponent of its West side movement, easily recognizable by his fingerpicking style. Although the sound quality is suspect at times it is bad at best, Rockin' stands as a testament to the genius that was Magic Sam. The performance is electrifying (even if the recording isn't). Sam rocks on "Further on Up the Road," "It's All Your Fault Baby," "I Found Me a New Love" "Got My Mojo Working,"Tore Down" and the title track, "Rockin' Wild."
Although an excellent document to his talent, Rockin' Wild is recommended more as a companion piece. Check out the aforementioned classics and then turn to Rockin' Wild. It is a fantastic performance, but unfortunately the source recording is over 30 years old and modern technology can only do so much to make it better. Still Magic Sam was the goods, as Rockin' Wild in Chicago amply demonstrates.
Track Listing: 1. Tremble (Collins) - 3:38
2. Call Me When You Need Me (Magic Sam ) - 3:21
3. How Long Can This Go On (Parker) - 3:40
4. Every Night, Every Day (McCracklin) - 4:38
5. Why Are You So Mean to Me (King) - 2:30
6. Dirty Work Going On (Washington) - 4:24
7. Further on Up the Road (Robey/Veasey) - 2:48
8. It's All Your Fault Baby (Fulsom) - 4:43
9. Looking Good (Maghett) - 4:55
10. Keep on Loving Me Baby (Rush) - 5:13
11. I Found Me a New Love (Campbell/Lyons) - 4:10
12. Got My Mojo Working (Foster) - 4:12
13. I Don't Want No Woman (Robey) - 3:06
14. Just a Little Bit (Bass/Brown/Thornton/Washington) - 4:32
15. Tore Down (Thompson) - 4:19
16. Rockin' Wild (Hooker) - 4:27
Personnel: Magic Sam - Guitar, vocals
A.C. Reed - Sax (Tenor)
Tyrone Carter - Piano (Electric)
Shakey Jake - Vocals
Robert G. Koester - Producer
Bob Richey - Drums
Dick Shurman - Liner Notes, Compilation
Mack Thompson - Bass
Steve Wagner - Producer, Compilation
Robert "Huckleberry Hound" Wright - Drums
Al Brandtner - Design
Odie Jr. Payne - Drums
Ray Flerlage - Photography
Hank Lebo - Photography
Bill Lindemann - Engineer
Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang - Sax (Tenor), Vocals
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.