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Blues CDs New Releases - January 2013

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Slim pickin's for blues fans this month as the New Year kicks into gear and the record labels begin to sort out their release schedules for 2013. That's not to say that there isn't some fine music to be had, though, with new discs on the horizon from Bob Brozman and Doghouse Sam sharing shelf space with gorgeous reissues from Legacy Recordings and our friends in the United Kingdom, Document Records. No matter your taste in blues, here's what you'll be listening to in January...

Big Brother & the Holding Company – 'Cheap Thrills' (Legacy Recordings)

Big Brother & the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills
Photo courtesy Legacy Recordings

Turntablists, rejoice! Our friends at Legacy Recordings are reissuing Cheap Thrills, the major label debut of Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company in its original mono glory! This individually-numbered, limited edition reissue of the "ultra-rare mono edition" of Cheap Thrills is pressed on high-quality 180-gram audiophile vinyl, sourced from the original mono masters and featuring Robert Crumb's super-cool cover, recreated from the original artwork. The music in the grooves speaks for itself – "Summertime," "Piece of My Heart," "Ball and Chain," "I Need A Man To Love" – and Janis never sounded better than she did here. (Release date: 01/08/13)

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Bob Brozman – 'Fire In The Mind' (Ruf Records)

Bob Brozman's Fire In The Mind
Photo courtesy Ruf Records

Bob Brozman is a talented multi-instrumentalist, musical historian, and educator that has recorded a couple dozen albums of vintage blues, jazz, and ragtime music over his lengthy career. An ethnomusicologist who practices what he preaches, Brozman has also collaborated with an impressive list of musical talent from around the world, from jazzy bluegrass picker David Grisman and Australian bluesman Jeff Lang to Japanese pop star Takashi Hirayasu and African musician Djeli Moussa Diawara, among many others. Fire In The Mind is Brozman's third collection of blues for the respected Ruf Records label and his follow-up to 2007's acclaimed Post-Industrial Blues album. The album offers eleven original songs that, in Brozman's words, feature "passionate playing on a variety of new and old stringed instruments, including instruments not normally used for blues." Should be interesting... (Release date: 01/08/13)

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Doghouse Sam & His Magnatones – 'Buddha Blues' (Blues Boulevard)

Doghouse Sam & His Magnatones' Buddha Blues
Photo courtesy Blues Boulevard Records

Described as "the Paladins meet Howlin' Wolf," Dutch blues singer, guitarist, and harp player Wouter "Doghouse Sam" Celis leads his power trio (upright bass and drums) through a baker's dozen tracks on Buddha Blues, the band's high-octane debut. Celis made his bones touring across Europe with the Rhythm Bombs, performing more than 500 gigs with the popular roots 'n' blues outfit. His new kit, Doghouse Sam & His Magnatones, doesn't stray far from that sound, raising a ruckus and kicking out a houserockin' blues sound that is equal parts Hound Dog Taylor and Hasil Atkins. This month's sleeper release, Buddha Blues is definitely one you should hear. (Release date: 01/08/13)

Granville McGhee – 'Volume 1 (1947-1951)' (Document Records)

Granville McGhee's Volume 1 (1947-1951)
Photo courtesy Document Records

The younger brother of folk-blues legend Brownie McGhee, Granville "Stick" McGhee was also a talented guitarist, albeit one who pursued a much different sound from his better-known brother, mixing jump blues and rockin' R&B to create a sound that would become a major influence on rock 'n' roll in the 1950s. Document's Volume 1 (1947-1951) collects 22 tracks (in chronological order) from the early part of McGhee's short career, including his only hit, "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" (later recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Burnette, among others) as well as smaller successes like "Tennessee Waltz Blues" and "One Monkey Don't Stop The Show" (a 1972 hit for R&B group Honey Cone). Volume 2 (1951-1960) is also being released by Document, featuring 22 more songs that bring McGhee's career to its conclusion. Highly recommended... (Release date: 01/08/13)

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Johnny Winter And – 'Live At The Fillmore East 10-3-70' (Relayer Records)

Johnny Winter And's Live At The Fillmore East 10-3-70
Photo courtesy Relayer Records

This limited edition and digitally-remastered "reissue" reprises Johnny Winter's 1971 album Johnny Winter And Live, jettisoning the Pirate's World tracks (including the "Rock & Roll Medley") from the original LP in favor of the full October 1970 set from the legendary Fillmore East in New York City. As a result, you'll lose "Johnny B. Goode" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and gain a scorching version of Rick Derringer's "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" (with Derringer on second guitar) and Muddy Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'." Throw in Sonny Boy Williamson's "Good Morning Little School Girl" and a handful of other great tunes and you have a red-hot and rollin' blues-rock party! (Release date: 01/29/13)

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Lightning Hopkins – 'California Mudslide (And Earthquake)' (Ace Records)

Lightning Hopkins' California Mudslide (And Earthquake)
Photo courtesy Ace Records

Noted U.K. reissue label Ace Records specializes in rescuing and restoring U.S. soul and blues obscurities, and they don't get much more obscure than Texas blues great Lightnin' Hopkins' California Mudslide (And Earthquake) album. Originally released by the L.A. based Vault Records label in 1969, the album was recorded live in the studio, just Lightnin' and his Gibson guitar, produced by then-young board-wrangler Bruce Bromberg (who would go on to work with talents like Robert Cray and Joe Louis Walker, among others). Not much info on the album is available, but writer Alan Govenar talks about it in his excellent bio on Lightnin', quoting Bromberg's story about Hopkins making up the haunting title song on the spot in the studio. Heck, it's Lightnin' Hopkins, so you know it's worth checking out... (Release date: 01/15/13)

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Rev. Gary Davis – 'An Afternoon with Rev. Gary Davis' (Document Records)

Photo courtesy Document Records
Photo courtesy Document Records

Originally released on vinyl by Document in 1988, An Afternoon with Reverend Gary Davis at Allegheny College is an eight-song performance by the gospel-blues great at a small Northwestern Pennsylvania college. Recorded at an afternoon workshop, Davis eschews his normal religious fare in favor of putting on a lesson in blues instrumentation, the fleet-fingered talent working out on guitar, banjo, and harmonica for a small but enthusiastic audience. A couple of the songs here, like "Candyman" and "I Know You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone," are normally included in the Davis setlist but you just gotta hear the Reverend's take on Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." (Release date: 01/08/13)

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Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – 'Texas Flood' (Legacy Recordings)

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble's Texas Flood
Photo courtesy Legacy Recordings

This expanded 30th anniversary edition of Stevie Ray Vaughan's amazing debut album Texas Flood is a deluxe two-disc set featuring the entire original LP plus a bonus track, "Tin Pan Alley (a/k/a Roughest Place In Town)." The second disc offers up a previously-unreleased live set recorded on October 20, 1983 at Ripley's Music Hall in Philadelphia that includes a handful of the best tunes from the debut album. Probably the most exciting performances, though, which will hit every guitar fanatic right between the ears, is where Vaughan wrests the blues-rock crown from the ghost of Jimi Hendrix with incendiary covers of "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" and a twelve-minute mash-up of Jimi's "Little Wing" and "Third Stone From The Sun." The first anticipated release of 2013... (Release date: 01/29/13)

Various Artists – 'Blues From Maxwell Street 1960 & 1965' (Document Records)

Document Records' Blues From Maxwell Street 1960 & 1965
Photo courtesy Document Records

Back in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, blues artists would flock to Chicago's Maxwell Street in the merchant district, arriving early Saturday mornings to grab a prime spot to perform on the street for tips. Some of the biggest names in the blues got their start on Maxwell Street, legends like Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters. For this CD reissue, Document Records has expanded the original 1962 Heritage Records LP Blues From Maxwell Street, adding six 1965 performances by Blind Arvella Gray to the album's fourteen original tracks (recorded in 1960). Along with Gray, old-school blues fans can groove to streetside jams from folks like Daddy Stovepipe (a/k/a Johnny Watson), "Blind" James Brewer, and King David, offering the next best thing to walking down Maxwell Street and hearing the music for yourself. (Release date: 01/08/13)

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Various Artists – 'TopCat Records 20th Anniversary Extravaganza' (TopCat)

TopCat Records 20th Anniversary Extravaganza
Photo courtesy TopCat Records

The Dallas, Texas based TopCat Records label has been promoting blues artists from the Lone Star State for a couple of decades now, working with both the big names and the small. Their TopCat Records 20th Anniversary Extravaganza is a two-disc compilation of some of the label's best from the past 20 years, including material from Jim Suhler, Hollywood Fats & the Paladins, Rocky Athas, Bugs Henderson, Phil Guy, and George "Harmonica" Smith, among others. The label's definition of "Texas blues" is rather flexible...it has to be, to include talents like Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, and Big Walter Horton...but who's gonna quibble over music this cool? (Release date: 01/15/13)

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