William Clarke: Tip of the Top

The late West Coast harmonica ace William Clarke was a master of the shuffle and the grunge-tone honk. His little-known 1987 recording Tip of the Top, a tribute to mentor George “Harmonica” Smith, earned him a W.C. Handy nomination, which led to his 1990 signing with Alligator Records. That breakthrough recording, featuring guest appearances by guitarists Junior Watson, Ronnie Earl and the late, great Hollywood Fats, is available for the first time on CD through KingAce. Lots of raucous jump blues energy on numbers like “Drinkin’ Beer,” “Charlie’s Blues,” “Hot Dog and a Beer” and “Blowin’ the Family Jewels.” This reissue also includes four previously unreleased tracks, all bearing the signature of the harmonica man who played straight from the heart.