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Friday's Rare Vinyl - "Hot Shot Boogie"
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February 05, 2016 10:08 AM PST
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Coy “Hot Shot” Love, vo/h - Recorded at Steve LaVere’s shop in Memphis, c. August 1973, by George Paulus. Originally released as Mr. Bo Weevil VB-01

By all accounts, Coy “Hot Shot” Love was a colorful figure — a sign painter, harmonica blower and street philosopher, among other things, who was known for adorning his leather jacket and bicycle with various sayings and phrases regarding his outlook on life.

Blues lovers will no doubt remember his primary claim to fame — a lone vintage single he cut for Sam Phillips in 1954, “Wolf Call Boogie” and an incendiary primal rocker, “Harmonica Jam.” With the total time of both sides clocking in at a mere 5 and a quarter minutes, you could say that he never even quite got his full 15 minutes of fame.

One rumor has it that the ironically-yet-appropriately-named Love was juggling relationships with as many as seven different women at one time — so, it’s been theorized, rather humorously we might add — that maybe he was just too busy doing "other things" to return to a recording studio.

Flash forward to the summer of 1973, and an encounter with record collector and producer George Paulus, and.... Presto! ....we have the following cut. Released on a very informal 45 rpm single (you’ll note that the name of the record label has been applied with a rubber stamper), it’s a nice little postscript to a career that, by all accounts — however meager — is one we’ll never forget.

As for the session itself, it was an impromptu affair, cut in a store run by Steve LaVere, in Memphis. The blues world recently mourned both of their passings, and today’s version of “Friday’s Rare Vinyl” is dedicated to their memories.

Incidentally, Mr. Love didn’t expire at the hands of a jealous lover — as one might think — but in an automobile accident. It just goes to show that, as Chuck Berry once put it, you never can tell.

For more great harmonica blues from the Bluff City, be sure to check out Blues Unlimited #166 - Lowdown Memphis Harmonica Jam at http://www.prx.org/pieces/83521

This Week on NPR - (It Was) Really! The Country Blues (That) Fell This Morning: LP Classics from the Birth of the Blues Revival (Hr 2)
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February 01, 2016 08:36 AM PST
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If you're curious about where the Blues Revival of the 1960s got its start, you might want to take a look at "The Country Blues," from 1959, "Blues Fell This Morning," from 1960, and "Really! The Country Blues," from 1962. While the first two were designed as audio companions to groundbreaking books of the same name — by Sam Charters and Paul Oliver, respectively — the third one, from Origin Jazz Library, was conceived, apparently, as a deliberate act of "one upmanship" over Sam Charters (Pete Whelan, one of the founders of OJL, later complained that the country blues Charters had written about hadn't quite been "real enough"). Each of them, in their own way, were highly influential when they came out — and in no small part, helped to spark the Blues Revival of the 1960s. Join us then, as we celebrate three classic slabs of vinyl from the very advent of the Blues Revival — on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

This Week on NPR - (It Was) Really! The Country Blues (That) Fell This Morning: LP Classics from the Birth of the Blues Revival (Hr 1)
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February 01, 2016 08:26 AM PST
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Dear Friends and Fans,

During the month of February, we'll be running four of our favorite programs in honor of Black History Month, the first of which kicks off with this week's installment. In the meantime, we're cooking up some brand new episodes for you, so stay tuned for that. We might even post an extra episode, so - as they say - watch this space for details. In the meantime, please consider helping out with our ongoing fundraiser at http://www.ebay.com/itm/-/201500778555

If you're curious about where the Blues Revival of the 1960s got its start, you might want to take a look at "The Country Blues," from 1959, "Blues Fell This Morning," from 1960, and "Really! The Country Blues," from 1962. While the first two were designed as audio companions to groundbreaking books of the same name — by Sam Charters and Paul Oliver, respectively — the third one, from Origin Jazz Library, was conceived, apparently, as a deliberate act of "one upmanship" over Sam Charters (Pete Whelan, one of the founders of OJL, later complained that the country blues Charters had written about hadn't quite been "real enough"). Each of them, in their own way, were highly influential when they came out — and in no small part, helped to spark the Blues Revival of the 1960s. Join us then, as we celebrate three classic slabs of vinyl from the very advent of the Blues Revival — on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Friday's Rare Vinyl - "Broken Heart"
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January 29, 2016 08:59 AM PST
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Memphis Minnie, vo/g - Ernest Lawlars (aka Little Son Joe), g - unk p/dms - Originally released as Checker 771 - Recorded in Chicago, IL, July 11, 1952.

This week's installment of "Friday's Rare Vinyl" comes to us courtesy of legendary vocalist and guitar-slinger, Memphis Minnie. Cut for the Chess brothers at the very twilight of her lengthy career, she would enter a studio only once more — in October, 1953 — when she recorded her final session for the J.O.B. operation.

According to the experts at the Red Saunders Research Foundation, even though copies of the single remained in print and in the company's catalogs until the early 1960s, copies of it are hard to find today. This pressing comes from "Genesis Vol 1," a series of 3 box sets (each containing 4 LPs!) all devoted to the Chess family of labels. Compiled by blues experts Mike Leadbitter and Mike Rowe, they are just as equally hard to find today, as is this week's installment of "Friday's Rare Vinyl."

For more Chess and Checker nuggets from the "Genesis" series, be sure to check out:

Blues Unlimited #187 - Gems & Rarities from Genesis http://www.prx.org/pieces/92797

Blues Unlimited #188 - More Gems & Rarities from Genesis http://www.prx.org/pieces/93225

Last Week on NPR - Four from Delmark: The Desert Island Classics, Part 1 (Hour 2)
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January 25, 2016 08:43 AM PST
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And, please.... don't forget our fundraiser! We need your help! And we thank you.... http://www.ebay.com/itm/-/201500778555

Join us for the start of a new series, called "Desert Island Classics." The idea is to showcase blues albums that are so essential, you wouldn't want to be without them if you were ever unexpectedly stranded on a remote outpost somewhere. For the initial installment, we’ll be taking a look at four LPs from Delmark Records — all of them, at least in our book anyway — essential listening for any blues fan. That includes "Hoodoo Man Blues" by Junior Wells, and Magic Sam's "West Side Soul;" two LPs that have earned the respect of critics from around the world, received industry awards, and decades after their release, still consistently land near the top of any "Best Of" list. In addition, we'll hear two more five-star offerings from the Delmark catalog, "The Legend of Sleepy John Estes," and "Piney Woods Blues," by Big Joe Williams. Along the way, we'll have time for guest appearances from Speckled Red (who has the distinction of being the very first blues artist to record for Delmark back in 1956), and also, slide guitar master, J.B. Hutto. It's the first four picks from our list of "Desert Island Classics," on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Another classic from Delmark, "West Side Soul" by Magic Sam.

Last Week on NPR - Four from Delmark: The Desert Island Classics, Part 1
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January 25, 2016 08:33 AM PST
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Hey Folks! Don't forget about our AWESOME FUND RAISER! In exchange for your modest contribution - all of which will go directly to keep this radio show going - we've come up with one of the coolest thank you gifts EVER! Find out all about it at http://www.ebay.com/itm/-/201500778555

Join us for the start of a new series, called "Desert Island Classics." The idea is to showcase blues albums that are so essential, you wouldn't want to be without them if you were ever unexpectedly stranded on a remote outpost somewhere. For the initial installment, we’ll be taking a look at four LPs from Delmark Records — all of them, at least in our book anyway — essential listening for any blues fan.

Pictured: One of the classics from the Delmark catalog. Big Joe Williams' first for the label.

Friday’s Rare Vinyl - “Five Long Years”
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January 22, 2016 10:17 AM PST
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Eddie Boyd, vo/p - Willie Cobbs, hca - Eddie King, g - Willie Jones, b - Chick Evans, dms - Recorded in Chicago, IL, December 1958. Originally released as Oriole 1316.

This week’s rare vinyl is a tough piece of blues, that comes to us from Chicago keyboard man Eddie Boyd. He originally recorded “Five Long Years” for Joe Brown, chief proprietor of the J.O.B. label, in 1952. In business for the better part of a quarter century, the 1952 version of “Five Long Years” would be the only number one hit the company enjoyed in its 25 year history. This version, a smashing remake from 1958, is one of our favorite versions of this old warhorse, and is also pretty hard to find. This dubbing — surface noise and all — comes from a mint condition 45, believe it or not.

Unfortunately, that’s also part of the legacy of J.O.B., which, in some respects, was little more than an exercise in entropy. Starting off in the 1950s with decent sounding recordings made at major studios in Chicago, by the early 1960s, Joe Brown was reduced to cutting sessions in his basement on a home reel-to-reel tape recorder. It was also noted, somewhat notoriously, that he used to listen to the J.O.B. master tapes repeatedly in his later days, putting the machine on pause if the doorbell rang or someone called him on the telephone.

In many respects, this version of “Five Long Years” by Eddie Boyd was one of the “last hurrahs” of Joe Brown. Although it certainly could’ve been a huge hit — if placed in the right hands — instead, it became little more than a footnote in the history of one of the most colorful and highly revered record labels on the postwar Chicago blues scene.

For more great blues from the J.O.B. label, be sure to check out our two part special:

Blues Unlimited #264 - The J.O.B. Chicago Blues Masters, Part 1 (1949-1952) http://www.prx.org/pieces/134501

Blues Unlimited #265 - The J.O.B. Chicago Blues Masters, Part 2 (1952-1963) http://www.prx.org/pieces/135105

Previously on NPR - The Blues Unlimited 2nd Annual Year In Review Special: Best of 2015 (Hr 2)
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January 18, 2016 09:13 AM PST
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Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from 2015. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music, we’ve hand picked a few standout segments for our second annual year in review special. Don’t miss the "Best of 2015," on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Previously on NPR - The Blues Unlimited 2nd Annual Year In Review Special: Best of 2015 (Hr 1)
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January 18, 2016 08:57 AM PST
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Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from 2015. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music, we’ve hand picked a few standout segments for our second annual year in review special. Don’t miss the "Best of 2015," on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: In case you're wondering, the distinctive Blues Unlimited logo comes from a (as far as we know anyway) fairly rare poster, advertising the "Beale Street Music Festival," on May 14th and 15th, 1977.

Friday's Rare Vinyl - "When The Sun Is Shining"
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January 16, 2016 09:28 AM PST

L.C. Green, vo/g - Walter Mitchell, hca - Recorded in Gallatin, TN, 1952. Originally released as Dot 1103.

This week's installment of "Friday's Rare Vinyl" is a timeless masterpiece from the obscure guitarist, L.C. Green. A one-time associate of Woodrow Adams, L.C. made the trek to Detroit from his home in Minter City, Mississippi, in the late 1940s. He recorded a few titles for Motor City entrepreneur, Joe Von Battle, but they largely remained unissued until many years later.

The title in question was cut in Gallatin, Tennessee, by Randy Wood, founder of Dot Records and also owner of the now-legendary "Randy's Record Shop," a mail-order business where many young fans bought their very first R&B records.

Ultimately, it would be the pop market where Dot Records enjoyed its greatest success. In the meantime, blues fans are forever grateful for the small amount of down home blues Randy Wood recorded.

Although this rare slice of wax did ultimately make it to the digital age some time ago, copies are so rare, that we were unable to find a suitable label shot. What you see here is actually the flip side, "Hold Me In Your Arms." The dub here is courtesy of the Bill Greensmith collection.

For more L.C. Green, be sure to see our two-part special on Detroit Blues:

Blues Unlimited #170 - Motor City Blues Masters of the 1940s & '50s http://www.prx.org/pieces/85730

Blues Unlimited #171 - Motor City Blues Masters of the 1950s & '60s http://www.prx.org/pieces/86043

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