[2 December 2010]
PopMatters PopLocal Features Editor
In 1965, Junior Wells released the gritty blues-funk masterpiece Hoodoo Man Blues. Perhaps it’s only the anachronism of critical acclaim, but one must imagine him riding that same wave of inspiration on the night of September 16th, 1966, when he recorded a live set at Club 47 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Live in Boston 1966 is, indeed, the sound of a master bluesman in his element. It’s not quite the same Junior Wells that put his stamp on the slinking precision of Hoodoo Man Blues, though. Wells left his regular mid-‘60s crew in Chicago and played this concert with the Aces, the group that had helped him get his foot in the door in the early ‘50s. The result is a night of explosive straight blues. Wells and his band play an hour of raw standards like “Hideaway”, “Got My Mojo Working” and “Feelin’ Good”. Wells makes these malleable, down-home classics feel as natural as a bottle of whiskey on a bedside table. The inimitable frontman banters with audience, sharing nuggets of blues wisdom and offering the occasional cheek to the more vocal audience members. “That’s the blues, you hear me?” he says at one point. “Low down stinking and dirty. You can’t get ‘em like that, baby you can believe one thing: no soul, no soul.” This CD is a vivid document of one low down, dirty and very infrequently stinking night with Junior Wells. One thing you could never say about it, though, is that it has no soul.