Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gimme Dat Harp Boy

Personally I have never managed to master any instrument ever to be considered a musician or even a reasonable player but I suppose the nearest I ever came without too much success was a Hohner Marine Band Harmonica which I played or to be more truthful 'bended a few reeds with' for much of my late teenage years into my early twenties. I also listened to a lot of electric blues and really loved the amplified harp players including both white and black exponents of the genre. So here today I have picked five 'white hot' harp players and a few classic tracks to match. These are some of my personal favourites and should not be considered classic examples of the art of amplified harmonica playing or the band or individuals career.

So let's start in 1963 with the Cyril Davies Allstars' superb harp instrumental ' Country Line Special', Cyril then died of leukemia a year after it's release and another great talent was lost. Following Cyril is Chicago's Paul Butterfield and this track is from his Blues Band's second album 'East-West' in 1966 and this was pretty much as good as 60's electrified blues ever got.

Next we go down, damp and dirty into The Marquee, London circa 1980 with South London's R&B quartet Nine Below Zero featuring the underrated Mark Feltham blasting the legendary 'L and N' down the railroad tracks.

Another musician to leave us too early was The Red Devils Lester Butler who lost his life to drugs in 1998 but on 1992's 'King King' you won't hear a better white blues band at their peak, they went on to record with Mick Jagger and the tracks are often found on good quality bootlegs . Finally I leave you with an example from 'Mister Consistency' himself namely Kim Wilson. Austin, Texas has brought the world of music many fine musicians but in the early 1980's it was hard to hear a better band on stage than The Fabulous Thunderbirds.


Cyril Davies' Allstars - Country Line Special (From Preachin' The Blues Memorial Album)

Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Walkin' Blues (From East-West)

Nine Below Zero - Ridin' On The L&N - (From Live At The Marquee)

The Red Devils - Automatic (From King King)

The Fabulous Thunderbirds - Jumpin' Bad (From What's The Word)

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