By the late 1960s the blues was no longer the primary music of black America. Following the rise of doo wop, rock’n’roll and soul, blues was increasingly viewed as old people’s music. Fortunately for blues musicians, they maintained a strong following amongst people of their own age and were being lauded by a generation of rock musicians who saw the blues as the well from which their own music had sprung. British bands such as the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and Cream made their debt to the blues well-known, whilst American acts who did the same also became successful.
With this new spotlight being shone on established blues artists, record companies began to record some of them. One of the most active was ABC’s Bluesway label which was run by producer Bob Thiele. Bluesway’s greatest success was with B.B. King, who became the face and sound of his generation of blues men, while others such as John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann all made excellent records which updated their sound.
When Bob Thiele started his jazz label Flying Dutchman in 1969, he set up the Bluestime imprint at the same time, bringing with him many of the artists he had worked with at Bluesway. Bluestime was short-lived and most of the releases have been out of print since the 1970s. On discovering the master tapes, we decided to start reissuing them.
We begin with this compilation of tracks from Bluestime LPs. T-Bone Walker’s “Every Day I Have The Blues” album is wonderful, as are his appearances on albums by the Super Black Blues Band supergroup, which also featured Joe Turner and Otis Spann, whose performances are equally adept. Spann’s recordings are historically important as he died soon after they were cut. Of the more unusual material is an ebullient performance from Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson. We have included a track from Malcolm & Chris, a pair of white blues revivalists who were discovered and produced by B.B. King.
Look out for more explorations of the Bluestime catalogue soon.
By Dean Rudland