Bob Thiele launched the BluesTime label at a time when there was a lot of talk of the crossover between rock and blues. The blues had been a progenitor of rock’n’roll, and in the late 60s many of the biggest bands in rock were declaring their allegiance to the older form of music. The Rolling Stones recorded versions of country blues songs and Fleetwood Mac reached #1 with a blues instrumental. Record companies began to sign past blues masters and place them in the studio, updating their sound. It was a continuation of what had happened previously when, with the early 60s folk boom, many veteran blues artists experienced career upswings by playing to young white audiences, rather than their older black fans.
Thiele had recorded many of these artists in his previous job at ABC. When he went out on his own, BluesTime became the recording home of among others Joe Turner, Otis Spann and T-Bone Walker. During the recording of the three blues greats’ own BluesTime albums, they all ended up at each other’s sessions. Thiele – no doubt eying the success of Blue Horizon’s “Blues Jam In Chicago” – saw the advantage of making an album with all three of them together.
On the resultant “Super Black Blues”, T-Bone Walker appears to have taken control of the creative process, composing three of the four tracks, while showing a generosity of spirit that allowed Joe Turner and Otis Spann to shine through. The opener, ‘Paris Blues’, gives all three a turn in the spotlight, ‘Jot’s Blues’ shows off Spann’s fine piano work, while the closing ‘Blues Jam’ is just that. Spann provides the vocal on the one standard on the record. While not a groundbreaking album, it is highly enjoyable to listen to three of the greats, relaxed in the studio, working with and off of each other.
By Dean Rudland