Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday is Blues Day (#3)

Last Tuesday I didn't have time to write a blog post, and like an idiot I had nothing prepared. I don't want to make a habit of that, though, so let's get this train back on the tracks.

Many blues standards have a pattern of recurring in numerous cover versions, to the point where the song itself is known far better than any particular version. It's a situation in the vein of traditional European folk songs, which is rather fitting since the blues are essentially the traditional folk music of our own nation.

Significantly, these blues songs have often found their way into the rock world, providing one of the clearest examples of how much rock'n'roll owes to the blues. To illustrate this, I've decided to post several versions of the blues classic "Big Boss Man" by Luther Dixon and Al Smith, including the Koko Taylor version, which is my personal favorite. The rapid proliferation of this particular song is unusual for a blues song, in that it was not recorded until 1960, while most blues standards that follow this pattern first appeared decades before this one.

Incidentally, I know I said I would cover the Guinness can vs bottle issue. I'll get to that next, I promise.

The 1960 original, recorded by Jimmy Reed:

Koko Taylor's rendition:


Elvis took a crack at it too:

As did the Grateful Dead:

Then in the '80s, BB King himself covered the tune, in a weirdly Michael Jackson-esque way:

This is but a single, relatively minor and relatively recent example of the trend. There are better examples, which I'll probably get to if I ever do a full post on Robert Johnson, but for now I hope this provides some enjoyable n interesting little musical tour with some enjoyable listening.

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