Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Book of Rock Lists' Great Chicago blues record labels

Chicago makes me (and Buddy Guy) happy to get the blues.

In preparation for the big CreComm trip to Chicago, May 2 to 8, I give you the Book of Rock Lists' Great Chicago blues record labels:

1 - 3. Artistocrat, Chess, Checker

These record labels were owned by the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil.

Aristocrat, their original, featured Muddy Waters, who moved with them to Chess, where he joined Howlin' Wolf as the label's initial big sellers.

Checker was the logical spinoff; its biggest star in the blues years was Little Walter, the singer and harpist who'd started his Checker career in Muddy's band.

4. J.O.B.

Co-owned by singer-pianist St. Louis Jimmy, J.O.B.'s most celebrated records were made by the great J.B. Lenoir. The label lasted only briefly during the fifties; its masters were bought up by Chess and lost in confusion since that label's demise.

5. Chance

The original label of J.B. Hutto and various Hawks also recorded Sunnyland Slim, John Lee Hooker, and for a time, Little Walter.

6. - 7. States, United

Junior Wells first cut "Hoodoo Man" for States; Robert Nighthawk was sister label United's most imaginative performer.

8. Parrot

Both John Brim, Jimmy Reed's sometime sidekick, and J.B. Lenoir recorded for this label.

9. Vee-Jay

Primarily a soul label, Vee-Jay made its blues reputation with the seminal Jimmy Reed boogie and Billy Boy Arnold's marvelous, "I Wish You Would."

10. Cobra

This was the leading player for the West Side blues players of the fifties, particularly Otis Rush.

11. Artistic

Buddy Guy (see video at the top of this post) got his start here.

12. Chief

Magic Sam's best early work was recorded for Chief, as well as Junior Wells' and the late Earl Hooker's.

13. Alligator

Current blues label doing a magnificent job of documenting what remains of the Chicago scene, especially through the fine albums of Hound Dog Taylor and Son Seals' music that it has issued.

Lifted from the out-of-print Book of Rock Lists, by Dave Marsh

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