Black Magic [Deluxe Edition]

Black Magic [Deluxe Edition]

by Magic Sam's Blues BandMagic Sam's Blues Band


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This album's color cover photo is an action shot, showing Magic Sam in the process of choking and bending his strings, a good hike up the fretboard. It isn't clear exactly what he is playing from the picture, although that certainly didn't stop dozens of pimply hippie guitar players from trying to figure it out. In the meantime, the record goes on and the first soloist out of the gate is Eddie Shaw, playing tenor sax. He is blowing over the top of an R&B riff that, although not out of the syntax of Chicago blues, would also have been quite fitting on a Wilson Pickett record. It is unfortunate that Magic Sam's recording career came to such an abrupt end, as he was one of the best artists working in the musical area between the urban blues tradition and newly developing soul music forms. This fusion was on the minds of many blues artists during the late '60s, and not just because it was aesthetically conceivable. It was also a matter of commerce, as audiences -- particularly black audiences -- didn't want to hear any blues that sounded too much like something their parents might have listened to. The harmonica player Junior Wells was another one who decided to get a bit of James Brown into his act, not always with great results. What listeners have here, on the other hand, is frankly delicious, the results of the surplus of talent Magic Sam possessed, a triple threat as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Yet with all this talent, the label should also get some credit. This period of the Delmark discography set a high standard for blues recordings, the sound quality and tight interplay among the musicians every bit the equal of the classic jazz recordings on labels such as Blue Note and Prestige. There is nothing fancy about the production, and no gimmicks. It is just a great band, allowed to play the music exactly the way it wanted to. The musicians have obviously worked together a great deal and either had these arrangements down cold from live gigs or had plenty of time to get things tight. This doesn't mean that the music doesn't breathe, as there are plenty of little touches such as drum fills and turnarounds that show the presence of musicians thinking on their feet. The passage of time also increases the musical value of this music, as the eventual popularity of commercial projects such as the Blues Brothers only served to dilute the power of urban blues. Labels big and small have forsaken this type of honest and straightforward production, preferring to try concocting a higher level of funkiness through extravagent over-production, boring superstar guest appearances, and insipid studio practices such as prerecorded rhythm tracks and dipstick guitar solos punched in a note at the time. Forget all this jive and check out a track such as "You Belong to Me," where the guitarist cuts loose with a restrained solo that sometimes dances ahead of the beat like a country fiddler while the band pumps away on a superb riff. The players here, including the fine guitarist Mighty Joe Young, pianist Lafayette Leake, and a muscular rhythm section, are the best of the best. No information is provided on the songwriting, so the assumption is that these tunes are all originals by Magic Sam. None are too obviously adopted from standards, but the opening "I Just Want a Little Bit" was much copied by other blues artists. "I Have the Same Old Blues" has a medium, loping blues tempo that swings so perfectly it should be used as an instruction course for lame blues bar bands. [A remastered Deluxe Edition of Black Magic was released in 2016 with eight bonus tracks, including alternate and previously unreleased takes. The set included a 16-page booklet with session and festival photos as well as updated liner notes.]

Product Details

Release Date: 01/08/2016
Label: Delmark
UPC: 0038153662028
catalogNumber: 6620
Rank: 8216

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Magic Sam's Blues Band   Primary Artist
Eddie Shaw   Tenor Saxophone
Lafayette Leake   Piano
Magic Sam   Guitar,Vocals
Odie Payne   Drums
Mighty Joe Young   Guitar
Mac Thompson   Bass

Technical Credits

Willie Cobbs   Composer
Willie Dixon   Composer
Lowell Fulson   Composer
Freddie King   Composer
Andrew Brown   Composer
Sonny Thompson   Composer
George Butler   Composer
Robert G. Koester   Producer,Liner Notes
Magic Sam   Liner Notes
Jim O'Neal   Liner Notes
Perkins   Composer
Otis Rush   Composer
Samuel Maghett   Composer
Paul Natkin   Photo Scanning
Dave Antler   Engineer
Zbigniew Jastrzebski   Cover Design
Steve Wagner   Producer
William Donald Nix   Composer
Roscoe Gordon   Composer

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