In the late '50’s and early 1960’s the Blues movement in the UK was just beginning to take shape. Alexis Korner, Graham Bond, Chris Barber and the like were playing the music of the American Blues masters, normally copied from the records that were imported as ballast on American ships visiting the UK. In order to get a better understanding of the music, Barber tried to bring the American bands over here but was stymied by the unions who forbad him bringing musicians over as they might take away jobs from British musicians. However the voices of the American artists were unique enough so that he was able to bring in some top performers for tours. The British public lapped it up – as did the musicians because it was the influence of these Blues stars that saw the origins of The Rolling Stones, Alexis Korners Allstars, The Yardbirds,
Fleetwood Max, Graham Bond Organization, Long John Baldry and many more.
For years there were rumours that recordings of the Blues masters had been made and now we discover the truth as the Blues Legacy Series has released three CDs of performances by such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Louis Jourdan and Sister Rosetta Tharpe from venues like the Manchester Free Trade Hall.

First off I have to say that the quality of the recordings is exceptional – the remastering has left a real sense of the auditorium as well as a clean sound and dynamic. Secondly, the Chris Barber band acquits itself well, especially Ottillie Patterson. But the performances – I have listened to the three discs a number of times and I am still agog at the quality of the performances. We have Sister Rossetta Tharpe in her prime pouring out 'Rock Me’ and 'Old Time Religion’ , Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee delivering outrageous bversions of 'Midnite Special’ and 'Fox Chase’ and 'Worried Man Blues’ and we are only on the 1st disc! CD2 brings in Muddy Waters and Otis Spann and Champion Jack Dupree and CD3 has Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Howlin’ Wolf & Hubert Sumlin.

I would love the opportunity to give 15 stars for these discs – 5 for their importance, 5 for the remastering and 5 for the performances themselves – but I’m only allowed to give 5 stars so I will.

There are apparently more recordings in the vaults and if these three CDs are successful it will force them out onto the market – I can’t wait!