Thursday, 3 May 2012

Muddy Waters - Baby Face Leroy - Little Walter

January 1950: Little Walter, Baby Face Leroy and Muddy Waters become the first electric Chicago blues band on record.

Made for the tiny Parkway label, these fantastic and now-legendary recordings laid the foundation for post-war downhome blues - and much more.

The session acetates were thought to have been lost and no unissued recordings from that historic session have ever surfaced.

Until now.

Blues music has certainly had its important periods, and there have indeed been at least a few, but none may be quite as important, nor exciting, as the post-war years in Chicago.  While the music itself still retained many of the key ingredients that it had in the pre-war years, this time of great transition bearing the new amplified sounds saw a large number of landmark recordings springing up on new labels with dime-store budgets in an attempt to compete in the new Wild West.

While it’s difficult to pin down the most important Blues records from this time, there can be little doubt that a small handful of musicians were spear-heading the charge.
  Of that small handful, a trio that was at the forefront of this deeply important change included Marion “Little Walter” Jacobs, the enigmatic “Baby Face” Leroy Foster and a man who is often heralded as the undisputed King of Chicago Blues, Muddy Waters.   These three musicians comprised three-quarters of a now-legendary band known then around the Windy City as the Headhunters.

These three hugely important men are indeed present on the new, licensed Parkway 45s featured here, but these versions will be mostly new to your ears.
  Of the four songs on this pair of vinyl nuggets, only Rollin' And Tumblin'  (Part 2) will be completely familiar.   Part one on this new 45 represents the first and only time this track has been heard in its complete form - all other issues were either faded out early (the original 78) or minus the introduction (some LP/CD reissues).  Little Walter's Just Keep Lovin' Her and Baby Face Leroy's Boll Weevil are completely new, previously unissued alternate takes that have never been issued before now in any form!   While that's definitely enough information to whet any serious Blues fan's appetite, keep in mind that these brand new Parkway 45s are available in very limited numbers. When they are gone, they are gone.

- Craig Ruskey

Unissued alternate take

Unissued alternate take
Complete unedited version

Original 16" Parkway session acetate

"The Billboard" February 4, 1950

"The Billboard" April 1, 1950

Listen to the records here - see the links below to buy your copies.   
(When ordering, please make sure you choose the right shipping location.)


Mastering/artwork: Lewis Durham (Evangelist Records)

Thanks to Lewis Durham, Bob Koester Sr & Bob Koester Jr (Delmark Records), Craig Ruskey, Scott Dirks, Helge Thygesen, Victor Pearlin, Mark Jamison, Liam Large (Jukebox Jam), Steve Franz and Elliot Lewis.

Further reading: