Monday, August 27, 2012

Little Willie Anderson Swung The Blues

The B.O.B. label was a small Chicago label that issued some choice harmonica blues albums that were produced by Bob Corritore who has become a distinguished harmonica player in his own name and continues to produce some stellar recordings. In the mid-nineties Michael Frank’s Earwig label reissued two of the releases including CDs by Little Willie Anderson and Big Leon Brooks. This review of Little Willie Anderson appeared in February 1995 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 198). I likely received a review copy of this recording. It is still available (although possibly as a CD-R).

Earwig Records has certainly done a service for harmonica blues fans with the reissue of two albums from the B.O.B. label that featured two lesser known Chicago harp players, both of whom have passed - this album and Big Leon Brooks’ Let’s Go To Town. Little Willie Anderson’s Swinging the Blues finds the harp player who was sometimes called Little Walter Jr. (he died in 1991) matched with several musicians who certainly had a significant tenure with Little Walter, including guitarists Robert Jr. Lockwood, Jimmy Lee Robinson and drummer Fred Below with Sammy Lawhorn also guesting.

With Anderson’s hoarse, crusty vocals and raw harp, Lockwood’s distinctive chording, Lawhorn’s subtle leads and Below’s propulsive drumming, the album is well titled with several instrumentals, including a relaxed Lester Leaps In (with Pete Haskins’ sax added) and the atmospheric Late Night mixed in with Anderson’s idiomatic originals like Come Here Mama, Looking For You Baby, and Willie’s Women Blues, all played with a loose, relaxed groove.

To paraphrase one of his songs, it must have been the jelly that gave Willie Anderson the blues, as he sings with considerable vitality. His harp playing may be Walter inspired, but its raw sound indicates he was his own man and didn’t attempt to recreate Walter’s recordings. Nothing fancy here, just a set of solidly played blues.

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