Little Walter The Complete Chess Masters (1950-1967) Hip-O Select Geffen Records 2009 B0012636-02
I just finish listening to the 5th disc of Little Walter's The Complete Chess Masters, so consider this as a "just in case" for those that didn't know it was on the market and to just go get it--period
Harp buddy, Stephen Schneider, e-mailed me last week asking if I had my copy yet. Not if I was going to order a copy, but if I had mine in hand as he did. He knows me well enough to know that I wasn't going to pass up such a release. I didn't have mine in hand (it was in the mail)and I had actually questioned whether I needed the 9 or so previously unreleased songs for the price of a box set of songs that I already had in my collection. I even e-mailed Stephen back for re-assurance that I spent wise money--an Unequivocal Yes was returned. He was under the opinion that this Little Walter collection had undergone the best re-mastering and had superior sound over any of Little Walter's previous releases. He was also impressed with the unreleased cuts as being a substantial addition to what we had of Walter.
I wholeheartedly agree. Hip-O Select has proven once more that they are one of the premier re-issue labels around and as I sat and listen to these recordings, it was almost as if I was hearing Little Walter's music for the first time (of course it was the 1,000th time), but it's not just his harp, but also the snap of the drums, the swirl of the guitar notes, and the pluck on the bass strings of his sidemen. Fred Below, the Myers brothers, Robert Jr Lockwood, Luther Tucker, etc...never sounded so sharp or so good. Of course, I wanted it all to sound better since I spent more money for more of the same. I wanted it all to sound better than my Essential Little Walter and the Blues With A Feeling follow-up and by golly it does. No lie--AND I just thought that I had everything that the man blew except these nine unissued cuts, but there were a couple that I somehow missed. Some of those nine are alternate takes and it's nice to have those and the issued alternate takes back to back with the issued singles--to see just what alternate ideas Walter had floating around on the same tunes or his bandmate's different attack. By listening to these discs, I was also reminded just what a monster Walter was playing the harp acoustically--absolutely untouchable. Liner notes come from the same folks that brought us the Blues With A Feeling-The Little Walter Story biography and they sum things up nicely. No one knows the master better than Tony Glover, Scott Dirks, and Ward Gaines and if you haven't bought their book, then you're missing out on a great story.
That's all I've got to say. Anyone who plays blues harp has a bunch of Little Walter and may be like I was in the beginning--hesitant to spend the money, but this IS worth every penny. This is definitely a must-have for anyone remotely interested in blues harp or for that matter just to hear one of the biggest stars ever to play the game. I don't think the Essential Little Walter nor the Blues With A Feeling CDs are still in print and this one may not be after the initial 5,000 limited releases are gone. Of course, I'd print up 5,000 more--don't bet on that, though. Just get it! Anyway--'nuff or now, gotta spin LW some more.
As of May 30, 2008, I retired as a high school teacher with 29 years of sharing my knowledge of journalism, English, and world geography with Texas teenagers and eventually some of their kids (including three of my own).
This blog will provide a piece of the answer to the question I've been asked for the millionth time, "Well, what are you going to do now?"
#1 Son, John Bush, designed the title artwork several years ago and it is remarkably appropriate for this blog. Try this as a contact e-mail: rkbush51 at att dot net.