Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 379 #423)

New Study Song - Juke!!!

Time to kick off the study of a new Song of the Session, Juke!

It's THE harmonica instrumental anthem, no argument, but what else should we know about it? Here are a few details we outlined last night, with huge credit to Scott Dirks and friends for the details in their book.
  • recorded May 12, 1952 in the first studio session intended to feature Little Walter
  • they recorded two takes, one later released as the alternate
  • Juke was released in late July that year and did what no other harmonica instrumental has ever done, even to this day - it hit the top of the Billboard R&B charts and stayed at #1 for 8 weeks!
With conversation focused some on the horn-like nature of the song and Walter's playing, we did a lot of listening last night, covering songs that may have influenced him on the head and songs that came after, clearly influenced by his chart-topper.
  • Leap Frog from Les Brown was out in the '40s and makes a melodic theme out of the piece we know as the Juke head (with a one note variance).
  • Boogie from Snooky Pryor was released in 1948 and also features the Juke head.
  • Johnny's Boogie Blues from Johnny Maddox and the Rhythm Rockers (courtesy of a 78 recording from Joe) appears on the Billboard charts in 1955 and is a full big band cover of Little Walter's song.
It seems clear that Walter was influenced by horns and jazz players, but it's fun to see too that the tables turned and the big bands were emulating and covering him!

We also listened to the other songs that came out of that same recording session in 1952: Can't Hold Out Much Longer (the vocal B side to Juke) and Please Have Mercy, a Muddy tune with Walter blowing harp.

Class Notes

  • Joe is only away one more week! Zoe and Grant are on top of classes though so don't miss group lessons at the usual times.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Harp