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I am hard at work on my sequel to Legends of the Blues (available signed on this webite and unsigned at Amazon and bookstores everywhere. HEY! The holidays are coming! Legends of the Blues is the perfect gift for your blues-loving spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, musician friend, parent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew! Until Christmas, all orders from this site will go out within 24 hours of ordering), Legends of the British Blues. I am getting close to completion on this second massive labor of love. It was the Brits who turned me on to the blues. Please allow me to turn you on to some of my favorite music of theirs.

The original release year is listed first; the preferred CD version’s year is listed second.

1) The Animals – Animalism & Bonus Hits (1966/1995)
Released only in the U. S., Animalism maintains the most consistent mood and quality of any Animals record. Eric Burdon‘s vocals here are some of his best. The track “All Night Long” was produced by Frank Zappa and features members of the Mothers of Invention. My favorite cuts are “Hey Gyp” (great drumming from the Nashville TeensBarry Jenkins), “Hit the Road, Jack”, “Smokestack Lightning” and “Shake”. The 1995 CD includes 12 bonus tracks (a few hits and BBC recordings). If you can’t locate a copy of this particular CD, here’s another slightly shorter edition:

It has the cover of the original LP and has 8 bonus tracks.

2) Jeff Beck – Truth (1968/2005)
Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart (Ron Wood plays bass; Micky Waller is on drums) were at their rawest and bluesiest on Jeff’s first solo LP. Try to find the 2005 expanded 18 track version. My favorite songs include their reworking of The Yardbirds“Shapes of Things”, “Let Me Love You”, “Morning Dew”, “You Shook Me” (this pre-dates Led Zeppelin‘s version), “Rock My Plimsoul” (“Rock Me Baby” by any other band), Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” and “Beck’s Bolero” (featuring Jeff, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon — “Whoa!” as Keanu would say).

3) Blodwyn Pig – Ahead Rings Out (1969/2006)
Ace blues guitarist Mick Abrahams, fresh from Jethro Tull, created one of the finest British blues albums ever recorded. The 16-track 2006 CD includes all of the songs on both the UK and American versions of the LP, plus bonus single sides as well. Mick’s superb songwriting, guitar and vocals come to the fore on just about every track, but especially on the bolero “See My Way”, “It’s Only Love” and “The Change Song”.

4) The Blues Band – The Blues Band Box (2005)
This 4-CD set provides a good intro to Paul Jones (Manfred Mann, Eric Clapton & The Powerhouse) and his fellow blues legends, Tom McGuinness (Manfred Mann, McGuinness Flint), Dave Kelly (John Dummer Blues Band, Tramp), Gary Fletcher (Wild Turkey), Rob Townsend (Family, Medicine Head) and Hughie Flint (John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, McGuinness Flint). This box set covers their 1979-2002 output. My favorite tracks include “Two Bones and a Pick”, “Maggie’s Farm” — and just about anything else sung by Jones.

If you want just one CD, then go for their first: The Official Blues Band Bootleg Album (1980; pictured above). Best tracks: “Flatfoot Sam”, “Two Bones and a Pick” and “Diddy Wah Diddy”.

5) Chicken Shack – The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (1967-1970/2005) is a 2005 3-disc set that collects their first four LPs, plus related 1967-1970 recordings. The humorously charismatic leader of the band, Stan Webb (a kind of an English Elvin Bishop), was the group’s singer and lead guitarist. The band’s other singer, keyboard player Christine Perfect, became much better known after she married John McVie, joined Fleetwood Mac and took on John’s last name as Christine McVie.

More to Come, Blues Fans…

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