In the 1950’s a new generation of Blues guitarists and singers appeared on the Chicago Blues scene. Like their predecessors, such as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, they were transplanted southerners. However, unlike Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, who played the South Side of Chicago clubs, these younger men based themselves mainly in the clubs on Chicago’s West Side.
The three main members of the West Side Chicago Blues style were Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and the subject of this article, Magic Sam. Magic Sam ( February 14, 1937-December 1, 1969) was born Samuel Gene Maghett in Grenada, Mississippi. Like Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, Magic Sam came from the South and all came to Chicago to seek their fortune in music. In addition, like Guy and Rush, Magic Sam was influenced by older Blues players like Muddy Waters, but were also influenced by the popular Rhythm and Blues hits played on local Chicago radio.
Magic Sam’s album “West Side Soul” was released by the Delmark label in 1967. ”West Side Soul is considered by many Blues fans to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, albums demonstrating the West Side of Chicago Blues style.
His arrangement of Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago” has become a Blues standard. Magic Sam was a master of the minor key Blues form and this is best demonstrated by the song “All Your Love” which is a centerpiece of the album. The true sadness of Magic Sam’s story is his early death at the age of 32 as he was just starting to break into the more lucrative rock music market. This is an essential album for the collection of any true Blues fan.
Top three favorite songs from this album: 1. Sweet Home Chicago 2. All Your Love 3. I Don’t Want No Woman youtube link reviews:
1. Sweet home Chicago, is driven by Magic Sam’s high heartfelt voice and his driving guitar. Many of the lyrics were changed from the Robert Johnson version and this seminal version of this tune is a pean to joys of running the streets of Chicago in search of fun and love. The opening guitar figure in this tune recalls some of the “Dust My Broom” licks made famous by Chicago slide guitarist Elmore James. The version referenced here is from the “West Side Soul” album. 2. All Your Love, is one of the most passionate minor key songs in the Blues and it qualifies as also one of the greatest love songs written in the history of the Blues. Magic Sam played guitar with all of the fingers of his right hand in style very similar to fellow guitar legend, Hubert Sumlin. The use of his fingers when picking his guitar set Magic Sam apart from his contemporaries Buddy guy and Otis Rush who play with guitar picks. The footage referenced here is from a European tour that Magic Sam played on shortly before his death.
3. I Don’t Want No Woman, was originally recorded by Bobby “Blue” Bland on his classic album “Two Steps from the Blues.” Here we have the version that was originally released on “West Side Soul.”