the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

Book Review…Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey


One of my favourite musical genres is The Blues…note I put that into capitals, as it is what this form of music deserves. Now I wouldn’t say I was a Blues expert or anything, but was brought up on it by in some part by my dad, but more my older brother who was crazy about Blues and more so, Jazz.
He introduced me to some of my favourite songs and artists such as Lead Belly, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightning Hopkins and Johnny Lee Hooker amongst others and over the years I have made conscious decisions to buy more and more for myself to listen to, and I have found in reading this book my tastes all fall into two of the many sub-genres of the music…Memphis and Delta Blues.
This book, although sometimes very hard to follow and disjointed, has some fascinating stories about the roots of Blues through slavery, the Depression, and segregation, but it is some of the biographies of the big names in Blues that becomes a must read…with names like Sleepy John Estes, Daddy Stovepipe, Big Bill Broonzy and Mississippi John Hurt amongst them, you can’t but help but fall into their worlds and their psyche and get to understand what the music (and life) is all about. I doubt there is no more expressive form of music at telling a tale, jogging a memory, or making one think than this and anyone who says they love their music doesn’t know squat if they don’t understand the Blues first.

Buddy Guy…Clapton’s got nothing!

Lead Belly – true pioneer
Going through this book which has some great photos and personal interviews between Wyman and the artists themselves has one always realising “ahh, so that’s where I have heard that song” or “I didn’t know he wrote it” etc etc. I found after reading this to make sure I get a lot of my older cassettes copied onto disc, or find the disc of other artists such as Buddy Guy, Canned Heat, T-Bone Walker and Stevie Ray Vaughan…and grab out my old guitar and start playing again.

A good read for nothing else for facts such as;

    SRV – gone too soon RIP


  • Robert Johnson wasn’t actually the man who sold his soul to the Devil at The Crossroads so he could play…while this is the myth (come about by the strange fact he became so good on the guitar when he was so piss poor), this story stems first by a Blues man called Peetie Wheatstraw?
  • And he, along with countless others such as T-Bone Walker and Charley Patton, used to play between their legs and behind their back ala Jimi Hendrix?
  • That some of those who have the name “Blind”, aren’t in fact blind? Although, you would be surprised just how many were!
  • Lead Belly recorded his biggest hits while in prison for the third time?
  • The Rolling Stones (who Bill plays for in case you weren’t aware) named themselves after a Howlin’ Wolf song?
  • Billie Holiday, “The Woman That Sang The Blues” is not in fact a Blues singer? She is Jazz, through and through…
  • Black Betty“, made so famous by Ram Jam was a Lead Belly song?
And as you read, the picture of how and who was tied up together through more modern music history becomes apparent…nicely done, just could’ve been presented as an easier read instead of chopping back and forth.

Make sure you follow the links for some sounds!


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