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Little Walters 10 Best Blues Albums

Updated on May 11, 2011

Little Walter was born Marion Walter Jacobs on 1st May 1930 in Marksville, Louisiana. He became renowned as one of the greatest blues harmonica players that lived and was also an accomplished vocalist. His harmonica playing was innovative in its use of amplification of the instrument, he would cup his microphone in his hands along with his harmonica and then plug the microphone into an amplfier thus allowing him to compete in volume with the guitar.

He was also famous for being one of Muddy Waters most accomplished sidemen.However he was still a great showman in his own right and some of Little Walter's best albums are absolute masterpieces.

This hub is my take on what are Little Walters 10 Best Albums.

1. His Best :(Little Walter)The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection

This collection is a great place to start to uncover the brilliance of Little Walter. Muddy and his band accompany Little Walter on many the tracks as do other Chicago greats. This collection features many Walter's versions of  the standards: "Blues with a Feeling," "You're So Fine," "Juke.".

Many of these songs, written by Walter were covered by the British artists of the 60's. "It Ain't Right" featured on the first Bluesbreakers album and the Rolling Stones would go on to cover "Confessin' The Blues". As well as being a great songwriter Little Walter could also interpret other peoples songs and two covers of Willie Dixon songs "My Babe", and "Too Late" stand out in this collection.

2. Hate to See You Go

Hate to See You Go are recordings made in Chicago between 1952-60 with a rhythm section mainly consisting of Willie Dixon and Fred Below. The record was first released in 1968, the year after Little Walter's death from injuries incurred in a street fight.

This album focuses on Little Walters harmonica playing and is ideal for anyone wanting to dig a little deeper into his body of work. This really gives you a good idea of how exciting he was live.

3. Confessin' the Blues

Confessin' the Blues is a selection of recordings that really showcases the breadth of Little Walters repertoire. You get the deep bluesy reverb of "High Temperature" and the driving rhythm of "My Babe".

This album also shows what an underrated vocalist Little Walter could be as well as being a consumate instrumentalist. This album covers all the bases.

4. The Essential Little Walter

The Essential Little Walter is a 2 CD Set covering all the best Little Walter tracks from between 1952 and 1963 including his signature instrumental tune "Juke", "Mellow Down Easy," and "Key to the Highway,". It includes a song that Muddy Waters made great "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" as well as Little Walters interpretations of other bluesmens songs such as Willie Dixon's "Dead Presidents" and the menacing "Boom Boom Out Goes The Light", T-Bone Walker's "Mean Old World", and Jimmy Oden's "Going Down Slow".

This set has almost too much and some of the songs don't quite live up to their peers however this the most thorough overview of Little Walters' career.

5. Blowing with a Feeling

Blowing with a Feeling is another collection of Little Walters 1950's Chess recordings and covers all the bases.

The album is cleverly broken up into 2 parts, titled Little Walter Up Front and Little Walter Behind. The first eleven tracks are by him as the frontman and are all superb including the fabulous "Too Late" and his big hit "Juke". The second eleven tracks are Little Walters supporting various Blues legends such as Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers and Memphis Minnie on tracks like "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Joliet Blues".

6. The Blues World of Little Walter

The Blues World of Little Walter is more for Die-hard Little Walter fans. It includes the sublime "Rollin' and Tumblin'(Part 1)" which is worth the price of the CD alone. It also has the much under-rated "I Just Keep Loving Her".

Walter plays guitar on some of these tracks and whilst not being the worlds greatest guitar player it shows his deep understanding and feeling of the blues ouevre.

For folks looking for their first Little Walter CD, this is not for them go for one of the "Best of" Chess titles instead but if you want to listen to the early workings of some of Chicagos finest this is for you.

7. Boss Blues Harmonica

Boss Blues Harmonica is another double LP Collection of Little Walter classics covering most of his career. There is of course the obligatory "Juke" and "Blues with a Feeling" but also "Boom, Boom Out Goes the Lights" and "Flying Saucer"

8. Juke

Juke is another early 90's Best of collection concentrating maybe more on the mellower instrumental side of Walters music. The collection starts off with a bang with a rousing version of "You'd Better Watch Yourself" this is then followed up with the much mellower "Last Night" as if to accentuate the variety in Walters music.There is of course as the title suggests the inclusion of Walters greatest hit "Juke" there's the more low key "Come Back Baby", "Sad Hours" and "Crazy for My Baby" to round the collection off.

9. Super Blues - Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and Little Walter

This record is a bit of an oddity it comes in a 60's psychedelic cover art and with Summer of Love Vietnam-era liner notes. This informal jam features vocal and instrumental interplay on every track that is intensely competitive in the tradition of jook house "headcutting" contests, with each performer spurring the next on to evermore impressive heights. An impressive repertoire of favorites are covered like Muddy Water's "Long Distance Call" and "I'm a Man", Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love," Little Walter's "Sad Hours," and Willie Dixon's "You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover.".

This period piece remains a fun and refreshing gem.

10. Live in Chicago - Little Walter and Otis Rush

Live in Chicago is a fantastic live recording of two blues legends, Little Walter and Otis Rush, at the top of their game and recorded live at the Chicago Blues Festival in the Summer of 1967.

This album is equal parts Otis Rush and Little Walter and they take turns to be the frontman and then back the other. This highlights the teamwork that characterised much of the 50's and 60's Chicago sound.

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Which of these CD's do you consider to be Little Walters finest?

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    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago I am to solve your blues fantasy as your number one fan from Canada Little Walter, of course -and some of these albums I have on vinyl - thank god - and one great 'harp' player from Canada is King Biscuit Boy - so check him out on google or you tube -

      ..this is a perfectly researched hub because it's so truly a labor of love from you - and lucky for those who appreciate this kind of stuff - another great boy - Sonny Boy Williamson - but then again you already know that!


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