Review: Magic Sam & Shakey Jake – Live at Sylvio’s

Posted on: Sunday, Sep 8, 2013


Magic Sam & Shakey Jake – Live at Sylvio’s

(Retro World: FLOATM 6196)

Since his untimely death on 1st December 1969 at the age of just 32, West Side Chicago bluesman Magic Sam’s star has risen far beyond anything he could have ever dreamed of. He is now recognised as one of the pioneers of the modern blues sound, with expressively soulful vocals and an instantly recognisable and often highly rhythmic guitar style, much copied nowadays.

Because of his early death, his discography is small in comparison to that of most modern blues acts, and this set was originally issued on vinyl as “Magic Touch” in 1983 by the Dutch label Black Magic, and it has been reissued several times since then. Recorded in a Chicago club on a portable tape recorder probably in December 1966 (there is some confusion about the date), the sound quality is not the best, but it is listenable, and it features Sam and his uncle, harmonica player and singer Shakey Jake, in fine form on their home turf, running through a programme of largely (then) recent juke-box hits.

Three bonus tracks from Sam’s sole European tour in 1969 have been added, one of them a very short interview of less than a minute. If you don’t know Sam’s music, take a listen to his Delmark albums “West Side Soul” or “Black Magic”, but after that you will most likely end up buying this some time anyway!


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