BB King

B.B. King - The Thrill Is Gone [Crossroads 2010] (Official Live Video)

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B B King was one of the last of the great blues performers. The tracks featured were favourites in soul clubs in Manchester in the sixties.

B B King was a blues man that has made it  on the popular entertainment circuit, unlike most of his influences and contemporaries. He constantly appears in live TV shows and featured in the Blues Brothers 2000 film.

Every Day I Have The Blues – Blue Horizon, 1967
Sweet Little Angel

BB King Website

Wikipedia: BB King

Albert King – Blues Legend

Albert King - Blues Power - 9/23/1970 - Fillmore East (Official)

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These tracks by Albert King and and many others were always to be heard at the Blue Note Club, Manchester. Albert’s style was a firm favourite there. Although Albert King’s music was sometimes played at the Twisted Wheel, this location mainly went for the less bluesy more Motown based sounds.

Alberts 45’s were sent to Roger Eagle directly from Stax. Roger the original Twisted Wheel DJ moved on to Manchester’s Blue Note club were these tracks were well received.

Albert King

Albert belongs to an elite group of guitarists and one of the most influential blues guitarists ever. Albert was left handed and used bare fingers and always with the volume turned up high, Albert created his own unique identifiable electric blues guitar style and it was soulful too. Albert played guitar upside down, so bending notes in the opposite way to a right handed player,  as did Jimmy Hendrix.

He was one of the three Kings of the guitar: B B King, Freddie King and Albert King. His first recording was: Bad Luck Blues, released in 1953. Albert had to drive a bulldozer amongst other jobs for ten years before attaining any recognition. His first successful single was Don’t Throw Your Love On Me Too Strong. In 1966 he signed to the Stax label and began working with Booker T. And The MGs, a match made in heaven. Cold Feet, contained references to several Stax artists, e.g. Sam and Dave, Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas.

They ain’t the only ones to play the blues
I play the blues myself


I Love Lucy, paid homage to Al’s ‘Flying V’ guitar – which he called Lucy. Other early Stax recordings for Albert included Born Under A Bad Sign (1967) and Personal Manager .

His biggest earlier hit on the UK soul scene was the fantastic Cross Cut Saw and later The Hunter (1968). UK groups such as Free and Cream always included Albert’s numbers in their live stage act. Albert King was a central part of the late 1960s ‘blues boom’.

The classic album, Live Wire/Blues Power, was recorded at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium in 1968 and gained wider recognition. More great albums followed including King Does The King’s Thing, a tribute to Elvis Presley, That’s What The Blues Is All About A Top 20 R&B single. 1983 brought about renewed interest in the blues with  artists such as Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughan paying their dues to Albert. This helped to bring him back into the spotlight and in 1990 Albert appeared on Gary Moore ‘s ‘back-to-the-roots’ collection, Still Got The Blues.


Born in Indianola, MS, but raised in Forrest City, Arizona, Albert taught himself how to play guitar when he was a child, building his own instrument out of a cigar box. He played with gospel groups (the Harmony Kings). After hearing Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and several other great bluesmen, he left gospel for the blues. In 1950, he met MC Reeder who owned the T-99 nightclub in Osceola, Albert moved there becoming a member of T-99’s house band, the ?In The Groove Boys?.

In 1953 he moved to Gary, Indiana and joined a band that featured Jimmy Reed and John Brim both better known guitarists so Albert turned to the drums. He adopted the name Albert King, after B.B. King’s Three O’Clock Blues became a hit. Albert met Willie Dixon in 1953 and did five songs with him at Parrot records, Be On Your Merry Way / Bad Luck Blues, was released – others have appeared many years later on compilations.

In 1956 Albert moved to St. Louis, playing at local clubs where he began playing ‘Lucy’ his Gibson Flying V. He recorded at this time with Bobbin Records until 1959. King Records released the Don’t Throw Your Love on Me So Strong single from the smaller label. In 1961, it became a hit, reaching number 14 on the R&B charts. King Records issued more material from Bobbin, including the album, The Big Blues which was released in 1963. Bobbin also leased material to Chess, which came out in the late 1960s.

Albert left Bobbin in 1962 and recorded one session for King Records without success. Louis’ independent label CounTree, did some further recordings with Albert but after a falling out with the owner Albert was dropped.

Albert signed with Stax Records in 1966. He had R&B chart hits  Laundromat Blues (1966) and Cross Cut Saw (1967) both Top 40 –  Born Under a Bad Sign (1967) reached the Top 50. Jimmy Hendrix followed Albert’s guitar playing style and sound and Eric Clapton, copied Albert’s Personal Manager guitar solo for the Cream song, Strange Brew. Albert King’s first album with Stax  Born Under a Bad Sign, (1967) was a collection of his singles.

In 1972, he recorded I‘ll Play the Blues for You, with backing from the re-formed the Bar-Kays, the Memphis Horns, and The Movement.

Albert King – Later Life

Later Stax got into major financial difficulties and he left, going to Utopia, a subsidiary of RCA Records. In1978 Albert was at Tomato records and Fantasy records in 1983.

In 1986, Albert retired from the business, but made an instant come back playing concerts and festivals throughout America and Europe he continued to perform until his sudden death in 1992 from heart attack on December 21.

He loved Lucy and we loved him.

Born 25th April 1923 – Indianola, Mississippi

Died 21st December 1992 – Memphis, Tennessee

Wikipedia: Albert King

Kip Anderson

Kip Anderson - A Knife and a Fork - Checker - 1967

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A Knife And A Fork (1967)

Yet another of those great Blusey R&B tracks made at Chess this time by Kip Anderson.

Wikipedia: Kip Anderson

Al Perkins And Betty Bibbs

Al Perkins & Betty Bibbs - Homework

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The original of this song by Al Perkins And Betty Bibbs, although written by Al Perkins was by Otis Rush and was a great favourite of Roger Eagle the DJ at Manchester’s Twisted Wheel in the Brazennose Street period.

Don Hart & James Shorter

Don Hart & James Shorter - I Shed A Tear

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I Shed A Tear

Don Hart & James Shorter – Duet Soul ballad.

James Shorter a blues singer – My Mother Died And Left Me.

Timmy Shaw

1964 HITS ARCHIVE: Gonna Send You Back To Georgia - Timmy Shaw

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Gonna Send You Back To Georgia (A City Slick) (1964)

The Animals made this song popular in the mid 60’s but this by Timmy Shaw is the original! The Animals version was  – Gonna Send You Back To Walker –  referring to  a part of Newcastle (UK) where they came from.

Timmy-Shaw - Pic

Wikipedia: Timmi Shaw

Dean And Jean

Dean & Jean thread your needle

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Thread Your Needle

I Wanna Be Loved

An obvious take on Hi Heel Sneakers by Dean And Jean, but no less good for that, this baseline was copied as a sort of standard for many bluesy type records and styles all influenced by the great Mr Tommy Tucker.

Wikipedia: Dean And Jean

Geater Davis

geater davis-a sad shade of blue

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Sad Shades Of Blue (1972)
I’m Gonna Change

Geater Davis sang very much in the style of Bobby ‘ Blue’ Bland – deep Bluesy Soul.

British Blues

Blues Britannia

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In the early 1960’s there was a boom in blues music both from the US and home grown – British Blues. The Twisted Wheel in Manchester club played an important role in its popularisation. It was Alexis Korner who had been in the Chris Barber Band along with others like John Mayall who were the leading lights in preaching the Blues. Peter Green, Spencer Davis, Chris Farlowe, Graham Bond, Brian Auger, Georgie Fame, The Animals, Them, even Rod Stewart and the Kinks included blues numbers in their sets. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were in genuine awe of this astounding part of black American culture who were mostly ignored in their homeland by the white folks or even worse, had to endure their songs sanitised for consumption by the masses.  However, the white folks in England and France were blues crazy and almost every beat group in the early sixties performed their share of blues standards. Obligatory numbers included:

I’m A Man,
Mannish Boy
Hoochie Coochie man
I just Wanna Make Love to You

Bo Diddley songs in particular proved popular with even the most middle of the road groups of the time. Almost every live band had a Blues or an R&B number in their repertoire and almost all of them appeared live at the Twisted Wheel in Brazennose Street.
It was the club’s DJ Roger Eagle who had a hand in booking these UK blues bands, and often cheekily would play the originals after their set.

Twisted Wheel DJ Roger Eagle pictured with Sugar Pie Desanto and Howlin Wolf

At the time we tended to slightly despise most of them as poor imitators with a few exceptions. Today with hindsight it becomes clear that some of the UK bands  did genuine intuitive versions adding something to the acknowledged originals – take most of the Led Zepplin early tracks as an example. When the UK bands hit the American audiences, the youth culture there re-discovered their own originals and gave some of the most obscure artists a dose of celebrity and fame.

The Twisted Wheel  in the North of England. gave great respect to the blues – demonstrated  by the repeated bookings of acts like Spencer Davis, John Mayall and Georgie Fame.  Alexis Korner even took up residency at the club.

A strange elitist chauvinism emerged, its almost described on camera by Eric Clapton
in the DVD set produced by Martin Scorsese, the Mike Figgis DVD: Red White And Blues. Eric sums up the almost religious, cultist  attitude taken by blues purity aficionados, counting himself among them. The discourse focuses on the contribution of the UK to the emergence of the Blues into the light of general culture, stateside, unearthed out from its early 1960’s hidden and  exploited position.

The DVD has its detractors – some reviewers still don’t seem to appreciate the role of the British, critical of Tom Jones and Lulu as exponents of US urban blues. But even Lulu sang the Blues in those days and in Manchester she appeared at the Cavern Club with her ‘Brothers’.

She can and does do great justice to the genre, even though she was a white person singing the Blues. But don’t forget, she came from a rough part of Glasgow. It’s almost reverse racism where the Blues can only be authentic when coming from black people. Strangely, this attitude seems to originate from the white middle classes.

The Blues is steeped in suffering and yet it is not always downbeat. On the contrary, it is in fact an uplifting mode of music.

This phenomena of appreciation of US minority music happened twice – after the blues boom came Soul. This slowly ignited, northern soul appreciation back in the USA today.

Ironically there is a statue of Abraham Lincoln not far from the spot on which the Twisted Wheel club existed but no plaque, nothing to signify the place where all this appreciation of the Blues and the Soul of American music was given a massive kick start – The British invasion.

Clarence Gatemouth Brown

Clarence Gatemouth Brown - "Honky-Tonk" [Live from Austin, TX]

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CROSS MY HEART – Chess 1965

Born  18th April 1924 – Vinton, LA

Died  10th September 2005 – Orange, Texas

Clarence Gatemouth Brown was an eclectic artist who could turn his hand to most types of music, including the blues. His nearest present day equivalent would probably be Taj Mahal.