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Former Waters' sideman keeps moving forward

Chicago Blues
By Bob Margolin

Powerhouse Records: 1992

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This review first appeared in the Fall 1992 edition of Blues Revue Quarterly magazine (now Blues Revue).

Unlike many other former Muddy Waters sidemen, Bob Margolin is not content to live off a reputation forged while playing for his mentor. And unlike many white practitioners of electric blues, Margolin has not introduced rock elements into his music in order to make it more salable.

Instead, what we get on "Chicago Blues" is an accessible brand of traditional electric blues by a mature artist with a fully developed and individual voice. He is a strong guitarist with taste and imagination (and check out his slide on his original, "She and the Devil"). HIs vocals are not as strong, but are good enough.

The backing musicians vary from song to song, but the high-level quality does not. More than half the album resembles a Waters band reunion, with former Waters sidemen Jimmy Rogers (guitar) and Willie Smith (drums) backing on the first four songs, and fellow Waters alumni Calvin Jones (bass), Pinetop Perkins (piano) and Smith on the next three.

While those seven songs are absolute gems of postwar electric blues, it is, interestingly, on a song where Margolin is backed by unknowns such as Tom Brill, Clark Matthews and Peter Bronta that the album reaches zenith. "Tribute to Howlin' Wolf" is a rollicking, rocking performance that truly evokes memories of Chester Burnett (Wolf's real name).