I believe Larry Davis won the first Handy Award for the Rooster Blues album, Funny Stuff. Davis' album wouldn't have won in subsequent years when the voting became more open because it was too funky and full of soul, notwithstanding the fact that it was truly a superb album with terrific songs and playing. It was not rock enough.
Davis' album stands far above most of the winners this year and one would be hard-pressed to name one winning new CD that is close to Davis' recording in its focus and impact, and will be also be regarded as a classic album in twenty years. While its nice to see Little Milton win one wonders how highly regarded his Telarc album would have been if he had not passed. I confess that I found myself enjoying this disc with repeated listening, but it is not as strong or significant as the classic albums he recorded for Chess, Stax and Malaco. The best traditional album was a modest album of Muddy Water covers by Hubert Sumlin and famous friends. I suggest that Muddy's songs do not even effectively display Sumlin's unique style. Is anyone going to really listen to this five years from now as opposed to his work with Wolf, Big Mac, Sunnyland Slim and Willie Williams. And comeback artist of the year award for Al Kooper. Were there no blues artists other than aging bluesy rockers who had significant comebacks last year. Indicative of the shortcomings with the Awards that not one European album, not even reissues where labels like Ace in England have made available recordings by artists who are fundamental to blues history, including some fabulous reissues of the Delta Region recordings the Bihari Brothers made in the fifties, many under the direction of Ike Turner. Instead Johnny Winter's Second Winter was a final nominee for reissue. No offense but if anyone thinks that Johnny Winter is a significant a figure in blues history as say Roy Brown or Ivory Joe Hunter, they really need to undergo some real education.
That's enough ranting for 1 post.