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Magic Sam
ROCKINí WILD IN CHICAGO
(DELMARK)

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Although still under-appreciated, Magic Sam (1937-1969) ranks among the best, most innovative blues performers to emerge since 1950. He didnít do much recording, so these 1963-1968 performances cut in Chicago clubs take on added significance. A commanding vocalist with an excellent range, Sam mixed gospel and blues influences and used vibrato and melisma expressively. The unforced power of his voice is in evidence throughout this disc, particularly on "Every Night, Every Day."

As impressive as his singing is Samís guitar work. A fine technician, he was fond of triplets, and he employed tremolo effectively. He constructed his solos logically and swung infectiously, and they always showed a nice sense of development. And he never failed to provide his vocals with tasteful accompaniment: his obbligato work during "I Donít Want No Woman" bursts with ideas. The tracks here, like most of his performances, find him backed simply by bass and drums; his playing, however, is so rich that other instruments arenít missed. The fidelity here leaves something to be desired, but the performances are consistently top-notch.

BY HARVEY PEKAR

Issue Date: January 16 - 23, 2003
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