The music of Sonny Boy Williamson II (a.k.a Rice Miller) ought to be on every blues fans’ collection. Sonny Boy Williamson started playing the blues way back in the 1920’s and has played with influential figures like Robert Johnson, Elmore James and Robert Lockwood Jr., a guitarist who would often feature in his backing band.
Sonny Boy Williamson plays in a simple style. He blows with a nice tone, clear bending notes and a killer vibrato. In fact, some of his solo breaks almost have a guitar solo quality to them. He never overplays like more contemporary harpists (I’m thinking of Sugar Blue in particular). Robert Santelli acknowledges Sonny Boy as “the most lyrical harp player the postwar blues period produced” in The Best Of The Blues: 101 Essential Albums.
I like most of Sonny Boy Williamson’s recordings on Chess, but the 2-in-1 CD The Real Folk Blues / More Real Folk Blues is a good value for money buy. The CD collects the blues maestro’s best cuts from his 10 year stint at Chess records and features essential blues tunes including:
– One Way Out
– Bring It On Home
– Nine Below Zero
Band members differ on most cuts, but the regulars include Otis Spann (piano), Lefayette Leake (piano), Robert Lockwood Jr. (guitar), Luther Tucker (guitar), Buddy Guy (guitar), Willie Dixon (bass), Fred Below (drums).
Verdict : another must buy blues CD!