on 3 February 2014
Magic Sam's advance towards popular prominence was cut short by his sudden death. This album, the best-sounding of his lkive recordings, is further evidence of his great talent. For an amateur recording set-up, it sounds startlingly immediate and Sam is in fine form, working through his regular repertoire and the unexpected (great version of Otis Rush's All Your Love (I MIss Loving). Highly recommended.
on 20 May 2014
Magic Sam Live 1969 Raw Blues! was a surprise enough gift in 2012 but to have 2013 give us Live At The Avant Garde 1968 is almost more than a West Side bluesman can ask for. This is the west side of the Windy City, folks, Otis Rush territory and not at all the horn-driven R&B west side sound of Sir Doug's beloved San Antonio. We are talking' about a man who could make the Fender Stratocaster speak Latin to Stratton and tell the truth to Ruth. A man revered by everyone from John Fahey to Bonnie Raitt to the Grateful Dead to Los Lobos and then back to me stuck here in this room in London.
Recorded by Sam fan Jim Charne on June 22, 1968 at a funky dive on Milwaukee's east side this is a fine sounding album. You get all the biggies here or should I write "hear": a clean recording, every instrument audible, proper stereo separation, the audience present but not overpowering the tunes and, most importantly a humdinger cum zinger of a performance. No one played guitar like Magic Sam, no one, and while you can learn his style via YouTube lessons given by worthy imitators this is the place to get off your face. Listen to his solo kick in at 1:24 on I Don't Want No Woman and the only people I can think of who pick like this are, at a pinch, Mick Green (Johnny Kidd & the Pirates) and maybe Wilko Johnson...and they are Limeys!
Not even Keith Richards or Wales' late great Mickie Gee (the guy who played the immortal intro on I Hear You Knockin' by Dave Edmunds) were better at the "rhythm guitar IS lead guitar" school of six string than Magic Sam. With only bass and drums behind him he fills up the sound without becoming an overbearing power trio and never ever forgetting the bluesy feel and tone which is the hallmark of the blues guitar.
It is hard to say which of the half dozen Magic Sam live albums is the best but I would say this platter does indeed matter and I reckon it is in the Top Two live Magic Sam recordings of all time. Full marks to Bob Koester for putting it out and especially to Jim Charne for being such a good live engineer. And as for Magic Sam...Sam, I would have given this four and a half stars if I could have. I hope you will forgive me when we meet at the Great Jam Session In The Sky One Day.
on 15 April 2016
I had some trepidation buying another 'amateur' live recording but the recording quality of this is much better than I dared hope. The musical quality is tremendous.What a talent was lost when Sam died so young back in 1969! As well as live versions of well known Sam songs, of special interest are the covers of other Chicago standards such as those of Muddy Waters, which do not feature on Sam;s studio recordings.If you like Chicago Blues of this era, you will certainly not be disappointed by this album.
on 17 April 2014
On a blues show on a local radio station. Magic Sam was one of the most under rated blues guitar players,as is highlighted on this live recording. Sound quality of which is superb,by the way.
Why only 4 stars? For me,just a little too many instrumentals. Still well worth having though