Monday, November 8, 2010

Goin' Down Slow

Back in the mid 60s, just up Cornhill in the City of London, was Keith Prowse Records. I spent a good number of my lunch hours in the listening booths at Prowse's, checking out artists like Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Ray Charles. At that time, we were rapidly discovering the excitement and passion of what the Americans were still calling 'race music'.

A musician friend had recommended that I listen to Howlin'Wolf and so, as usual, I visited Prowse's to see what they had. When Wolf' filled the booth with his excoriating baritone, it was as if some mythic other-wordly devil-angel had arrived on Earth. I had never heard anything quite like it. Hubert Sumlin's guitar shreds everything around it while the repetitive piano notes insistently drive the whole thing forward.

Chester Arthur Burnett, Howlin' Wolf, was an imposing figure. Nearly 2 metres tall and weighing in at around 135 kg. His rivalry with Muddy Waters was legendary and together they brought electrified Chicago Blues to the world. Listening to Wolf that day, 45 years ago, was the beginning of a love affair with the Blues that still fascinates and delights. 'Goin' Down Slow', which you can find on the iconic Rocking Chair album, stll has the power to send frissons coursing up and down my spine. Check it out for yourself, why not?

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