Magic Sam - West Side Soul

If you haven't heard of Magic Sam the blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, it's either because a) he died young and/or you don't have the perfect blues album collection. Born in Mississippi in 1937 Samuel Gene Maghett moved to Chicago and signed to Cobra Records (along with Otis Rush and Buddy Guy) when he was only 19 years old. Sam was drafted into the Army, which he deserted soon after reporting for duty. He was caught and imprisoned for six months, issued a dishonorable discharge and returned to Chicago. Before being drafted he'd had a hit with his 1963 single "Feelin' Good (We're Gonna Boogie)," a groove in the style of John Lee Hooker, and gained some National attention. He signed to Delmark Records in 1967, for which he recorded two albums West Side Soul and Black Magic. West Side Soul was recorded in 1967 in two days (July 12 and October 25), and produced by Bob Koester founder and owner of Delmark Records. Sam selected the band members for the album: Mighty Joe Young on guitar, Stockholm Slim piano, Earnest Johnson bass, Odie Payne and Odie Payne III on drums and Mac Thompson on bass all from the Chicago club scene and he chose the songs. The term West Side Soul references a newer cleaner blues style than was prevalent at the time, the album was recorded with no effects or production techniques that were becoming popular in recording studios at the time. Half of the songs are Magic Sam originals the track listing as follows:

  • "That's All I Need" - (Magic Sam) – 3:40
  • "I Need You So Bad" - (B.B. King, Sam Ling) – 4:51
  • "I Feel So Good (I Wanna Boogie)" - (Magic Sam) – 4:36 (Junior Parker) See Talk
  • "All Of Your Love" - (Magic Sam, Otis Rush) – 3:43
  • "I Don't Want No Woman" - (Don Robey) – 3:38
  • "Sweet Home Chicago" - (Robert Johnson) – 4:11
  • "I Found a New Love" (Milton Campbell & Bob Lyons) – 4:03
  • "Every Night and Every Day" - (Jimmy McCracklin) – 2:19
  • "Lookin' Good" [instrumental] - (Magic Sam) – 3:11
  • "My Love Will Never Die" – (Willie Dixon) 4:04
  • "Mama Talk to Your Daughter" - (J.B. Lenoir) – 2:40
  • "I Don't Want No Woman" [alternate take] - (Don Robey) – 3:30

All Your Love and Lookin' Good on Earl Hooker's guitar (he typically played a Stratocaster).

Sam's guitar playing technique included a unique tremolo style, and he picked with his bare hands rather than using a plectrum as most other players did (and do). The stand out tracks include "All of Your Love," Sam's definitive cover of "Sweet Home Chicago," Sam's vocal performance on the B.B. King classic song " I Need You So Bad" is worth the price of admission on its own. Like Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival, Magic Sam's career broke through at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969 - but he died later that year in December at the age of 32. In February 1970, the Butterfield Blues Band played at a benefit concert for Sam, at the Fillmore West included on the bill were Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite and Nick Gravenites.

— Conrad Warre


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