Best of the year

Posted on: Wednesday, Dec 26, 2007

It’s normally around this time that the various media of the world: TV, radio, newspapers, magazine and regional niche websites, chose their best of the year.

I will start the ball rolling with my choices. 2007 for me was not a particularly prolific year, I didn’t go to that many gigs and I didn’t purchase many CDs. I still love my music but I found my focus to be elsewhere, this year I have heavily been into podcasts.

I am a big fan of the radio, especially BBC Radio 4; I work hard and travel a lot and I found that the BBC decision to make some of the best Radio 4 programmes available as podcasts to be real blessing. Most of the time I prefer to listen to spoken word rather than music.

Favourite gig: Memo Gonzalez at Warrington. I have publically stated many times how much I love this band and their September show was a killer. Have a look through the archives for September.

Favourite CD: As already mentioned I don’t really have a favourite from this year. What I have done is to take a look at iTunes and mention some of the CDs and artists who have had more playtime than the others. A selection of tunes from my Top25 Most Played.

Top Blues Tunes

“I still love you baby” – Lowell Fulson – for me the most played song of the year.

“Reconsider Baby” – Lowell Fulson – Number three in my most played list.

Rick Holmstrom did well with “Descanso” from Late in the Night.

Frank Goldwassser had a lot of plays with his CD Bluju. The standout for me was the killer instrumental “Bluju” and the lovely story “Three Sisters“.

Non Blues

About half of the songs and albums played most on my MP3 this year were non-blues. There are two CDs that stand out as the most played non-blues of the year.

Here and Now – Gospel of Free Love. A mish-mash selection highly improvised hippie/punk space rock recorded at various squats and free gigs in the 1970s. You can read more about Here and Now at this site. If you want to hear a sample then here you go. Please don’t complain.

The Thievery Corporation – The Outernational Sound. A brilliant compilation of an ecletic mixture of sounds from around the world. I think that the Wikipedia article sums them up better than I ever could.

Thievery Corporation is a Washington, D.C.-based production and DJ duo consisting of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton and their supporting artists. Their music style is dub, acid jazz, Indian classical and Brazilian (such as bossa nova) fused together with a lounge aesthetic

All readers should check out the tunes from this compilation…

Big Boss Man – Sea Groove (sorry – you’ll have to search for your own samples)


Breakestra – Cramp Your Style (ace reworking of a classic funk tune ALL THE PEOPLE/DENNIS COFFEY – Cramp Your Style)

**Thievery Stop Press** – The front page of the Thievery Corporation website has a link to a 30 mins DJ mix recorded for the BBC.

Spoken Word: As well as the many fabulous BBC podcasts already mentioned, this year I have been developing my Spanish and have listed to a few Spanish language resources to assist in the all so important (and very difficult) comprehension. Man, do those folks speak quickly.

RIP in 2007: I was very saddened by the premature loss of Gary Primich this year. Such a great player, such an influence.

Over to you: What did everyone else like……?



December 26th, 2007 at 10:43
Permalink this comment


Must concur with Ken that the Memo Gonzalez & The Bluescasters gig at Warrington was excellent – Kai Strauss’s guitar playing is something special! Another good night was the first appearance of Johnny Mastro & Mama’s Boys – tough, in your face stuff. It was good to catch up with our buddies, The Cadillac Kings, at The Ironworks in Oswestry, looking forward to their new album. Away from the blues I really enjoyed the two gigs at Telford’s Warehouse featuring the great Redlands Palomino Company – top class ‘Americana’ from a Brit band.
CD-wise my albums of the year were the melting pot of styles on the Chris Bergson Band’s “Fall Changes” and JJ Grey & Mofro’s “Country Ghetto” – again, a mix of stuff with blues, country and soul. Honourable mentions go to young swing guitarist Dave Gross and the sultry vocals of Gina Sicilia – two names to look out for.



December 26th, 2007 at 20:30
Permalink this comment


Best Gig – Got to agree that Memo at Warrington was certainly the best thing I’ve seen this year. One of those unforgettable nights when time stood still.

Favourite CDs –

“Duke Robillaird’s Worldfull of Blues” – a double set, packed with prime examples of the Duke at his best, ranging from jump to country blues, but all played with style, wit and imagination.

Otis Grand – “Hipster Blues” – a good, old-fashioned R&B album (that’s proper R&B, not the plastic, homogenised stuff that goes under the term R&B these days). Otis is on top form!

Aretha Franklin – “Rare and Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul” – Even Lady Soul’s rejects are still miles ahead of anyone else. Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone etc, eat your hearts out!

Rod Piazza – “Thrillville” – OK, he’s never going to be the world’s greatest blues vocalist, but I’ve rated this guy ever since I bought the first Dirty Blues Band album 40 years ago and I still think he’s making great music.

Omar Kent Dykes & Jimmy Caughan – “Jimmy Reed Highway” – Hugely enjoyable romp through some of ole mush mouth’s best loved toons, aided and abetted by the likes of Kim Wilson, Lou Ann Barton and Delbert McClinton.

Sandra Phillips/Bette Williams – “Swamp Dogg’s Southern Soul Girls” – Welcome reissue of Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Willisms’ classic production job on two unjustly underrated ladies. Steamy Southern Soul straight outta Muscle Shoals!

“Respect Yourself – The Stax Story” – OK, this is a DVD, but well worth picking up all the same. The documentary is fascinating, charting the rise and fall of one of the all-time great labels. But the icing on the cake for me is the bonus disc = the Stax/Volt 1967 tour live in Norway. Sheer and utter magio!



December 26th, 2007 at 21:08
Permalink this comment


Ian Siegal’s ‘Swagger’ must be in the running for some kind of recognition?!



December 26th, 2007 at 22:27
Permalink this comment


Forgot abouy these little beauties –

Koko Taylor – “Old School” – Despite ill health, she was on top form when I saw her at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2005 and this album proves it – killer stuff!

Hound Dog Taylor – “Release The Hound” – Same comments as Aretha – his rejected material is still better than most peoples’ released stuff.

Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials – “Rattleshake” – one of his best for awhile.

Dyke & the Blazers – “We Got More Soul” – Funk, like R&B, is a much misused term these term these days, but make no mistake, this is funk…nasty, dirty, low-down funk at its most primeval!

PS – sorry for any typos in this and my last post. This is what comes from posting, while drinking Johnnie Walker Red Label!



December 27th, 2007 at 00:22
Permalink this comment


Steve – no need to apologise for typos caused by posting while drinking, this is a blues site not a sunday school.

The blues and drink go together like Morecambe and Wise, Astatic and Fender, B7 and E.

I am glad that there is somebody else out there who compares Aretha with current singers. I tend not to compare her with Amy Winehouse as at least Amy has a little hip-hop in her.

I find myself thinking of Aretha every time I see one of those jumped up karaoke singers on programmes like X Factor. Aretha has more feel, groove, soul and talent in her left fingernail than a whole five series worth of X Factor finalists.

Thanks for the input.



December 27th, 2007 at 11:13
Permalink this comment


Thanks, Ken. I must admit, sitting here reading this on the morning after, I’m somewhat shocked by the way I’ve managed to mangle the Queen’s English in places. I’m still sticking by my choices, though! Time for a black coffee I think…


Pete Evans

December 27th, 2007 at 20:06
Permalink this comment


This is going to be very difficult indeed as there has been so much good quality music throughout the year. These are my selections… hope you like them.

Best gig – most of the gigs I’ve seen have obviously been based at Worthenbury and there certainly were some very enjoyable nights there this year. Geoff Muldaur gave us a wonderfully entertaining night as did The Hokum Hotshots with Louis “Gearshifter” Youngblood. Nine Below Zero played two unforgettable unplugged gigs but I think the night I and many of our regulars enjoyed most of all was when Aussie, Harper and his USA band played for us in July.

I did visit other venues in the year and Sherman Robertson was superb at The Ironworks in Oswestry as was Kirk Smithhart from Memphis whom I saw in Swansea. However, the ultimate music event was The King Biscuit Festival in Helena Arkansas in October. I still haven’t come down to earth yet.

Best cds – There again have been some great cds available this year. One’s that I’ve enjoyed have been the two very raw original country blues releases on Broke and Hungry Records, “Searching For Odell Harris” and Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ “Done Got Tired of Tryin'” – not everyone’s cup of tea perhaps, but as original as it gets and true Mississippi.
Harper’s cd on Blind Pig, “Day By Day” is a great cd, not really a blues release but original nontheless.
The best cd by a mile by a woman was “Cotton Field to Coffee House” by Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy. The main cd is excellent and is backed up a 17 minute jam session cd as a bonus.
My favourite of all thouigh was “Wheel Man” by Watermelon Slim – it’s got everything – great guitar, great harp and great songs plus a guest appearance by Magic Slim. However, I can’t help thinking of Jonathan Ross when I hear the title track… sorry.

I’ve bought more dvds than ever this year and there are some gems available. Delmark have produced a cracker with “Jimmy Burns live at B.L.U.E.S”. He’s a great singer backed by a superb band recorded at the small intimate bar in Chicago.
Nine Below Zero’s unplugged release “Bring It On Home” fully captures their live show, recorded at Rheged and is worth buying and I fully agree with Steve that “Respect Yourself – The Stax Story” is worth buying but I’d also consider Stax’s “The Legacy of Otis Redding” at the same time. What a singer but what a loss.
My favourite though is the Dutch release on the life of the rural Alabama bluesman Willie King “Down in the woods”
It captures his life, his ideals, the community work he carries out and an abundance of great live music.Available from

Finally a great read is “Big Boss Man – The Life and Music of Bluesman Jimmy Reed” by Will Romano.



December 27th, 2007 at 23:12
Permalink this comment


Just a few more good things this year . . . the fantastic Johnny Dickinson at The Rodewald Suite at The Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool – a son of Northumberland, great slide player and singer, catch him if you can – oh, and when you went to the loo you got The Saw Doctors thrown in for free in the main hall!
Pete mentioned Harper, his current album was another of the year’s best – not many straight blues, but a mix of rock, blues, roots and funk! The great Ian Siegal’s “Swagger” was excellent, a worthy follow-up to the mighty “Meat & Potatoes”.


Pete Evans

December 28th, 2007 at 09:21
Permalink this comment


Also forgot to mention a brilliant gig at The Robin in Wolverhampton – the legendary Johnny Winter. He came on stage a wizened old man, bent double with two aides who sat him down and set him up with his guitar etc. We thought we were in for an anti climax – how wrong though as he turned back the years and stormed throgh 80 minutes of brilliant blues. His voice may have been shakey but his fingers certainly weren’t. I hope he comes back soon.



January 6th, 2008 at 21:38
Permalink this comment


I know we are already well into the new year, but here are a few belated thoughts on last year’s musical memories:

Best gigs: Hans Theessink supported by Mark Koehorst at The Harbourside (brilliant night); The Hokum Hotshots Louis Youngblood and Harry Skinner and Dave Saunders (both terrific gigs at Worthenbury); The Stumble at Fogherty’s, Liverpool (another great night); Memo Gonzalez and Johnny Mastro (two superb shows at Warrington); Kim Wilson in Southport.

Best CD: Dykes and Vaughan – On The Jimmy Reed Highway (a collector’s item)

Best Festivals: Worthenbury and Carlisle (both tremendous)

Overall, I thought it was a very enjoyable year for the blues in the North West. We are blessed with some very welcoming venues, which continue to put on top-class bands and artistes and enable us to keep in touch with so many good friends. We also have this wonderful website, which provides a constant supply of news, profiles and reviews. Long may they all thrive and warm thanks to all our hard-working organisers.


Pete Evans

January 7th, 2008 at 19:35
Permalink this comment


Thanks for the kind words about Worthenbury Li – very much appreciated.