Several Chicago blues greats gathered in 1994 for A Tribute To Magic Sam (Evidence 26086-2; 48:50). Produced by guitarist and blues enthusiast Shun Kikuta, it originally was released in Japan on the King label. Kikuta, a featured guest with J.W. Williams & The Chi-Town Hustlers, is heard ripping on Lowell Fulson’s “Reconsider Baby” and a funky version of Sam’s classic “Love Me With A Feeling.” Harp ace Billy Branch matches Kikuta’s intensity note for note while bassist and leader Williams delivers some volatile, throat-tearing falsetto vocals on a medley of “I’m Tore Down/Just A Little Bit.” Magic Slim & The Teardrops, one of the great working blues bands around today, deliver heartfelt renditions of Sam’s shuffle “I Need You So Bad,” his menacing minor key blues “All Your Love” and the uncharacteristically lighthearted “That’s All I Need.” Slim, a longtime friend and associate of Magic Sam, serves up the appropriate touch of aggressive West Side sting on guitar here. Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang offer their personal take on Sam’s “Out Of Bad Luck” and “You Belong To Me,” both featuring rough and ready vocals by Mighty Joe Young. Saxophonist Shaw, whose honking tenor graced some Magic Sam recordings in the mid-’60s, gets to stretch out on the chugging instrumental “Riding High,” a tune he originally cut with Magic Sam back in 1966.
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