Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Live on Maxwell Street 1964
Genres: Blues, Pop
Robert Nighthawk's slide guitar was revered by the likes of Muddy Waters and B.B. King. It's easy to hear why on this raw, lively, and relaxed recording of Nighthawk and a few of his cronies, including harmonica ace Carey ... more »
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Robert Nighthawk's slide guitar was revered by the likes of Muddy Waters and B.B. King. It's easy to hear why on this raw, lively, and relaxed recording of Nighthawk and a few of his cronies, including harmonica ace Carey Bell, playing outdoors at Chicago's famed Maxwell Street Market. It's the kind of setting Nighthawk loved (for more of the music recorded there, also check out the three-CD set And This Is Maxwell Street, featuring Nighthawk and other great artists). Surely, he would have been more famous if he hadn't preferred the wandering minstrel's life, juke joints, and the streets over studios. Nonetheless, Nighthawk, who split his time between Chicago and Mississippi, took slide guitar uptown. He polished the jagged phrases of the Delta bluesmen into flowing, elaborate melodies he sometimes conceived as complete 12-bar solos, as in the elegant medley of his signatures "Anna Lee" and "Sweet Black Angel." But the bottom line is that Nighthawk was killer on any blues. He sings with rugged intensity on the murderous "Cheating and Lying Blues," and his dirty chords and deft single-note licks pile a mountain of gravel over 13 numbers (plus a brief interview). This reissue features 5 tunes not on the original, including a vocal turn by another undervalued giant, J.B. Lenoir, on "Mama, Talk to Your Daughter." --Ted Drozdowski
Sad attempt to squeeze yet more out of this release
Docendo Discimus | 03/06/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"In my view, anyone interested in hearing this music would be best advised to leave this page and go directly to "And This Is Maxwell Street" (see link above) for information.The music is very fine, indeed, but, in my opinion, this is the least attractive presentation of it currently available. Everything on this disc is on the legitimately produced 3-CD "And This Is Maxwell Street" set (from Rooster Blues Records), and the sound seems better on that set too. The multiple CD "And This Is Maxwell Street" set includes many tracks not included here and even has a third bonus disc with Michael Bloomfield's complete 44-minute interview of Nighthawk made in 1964 as part of the documentary project that led to the creation of Mike Shea's film "And This Is Free," the ultimate source of this music. "And This Is Maxwell Street" also includes snippets of band chatter between numbers, street noise, preachers preaching, car horns--the atmosphere of the openair market where the music was recorded. The producers have succeeded in making you feel like you are there on Maxwell Street on a summer Sunday in 1964. All the mood is lost in the edited tracks that appear on the disc reviewed here.The disc reviewed here is presented in an unattractive package. The liner notes are the same as those used when the music was first released many years ago (and, I suspect, re-used without their author's knowledge), completely ignoring the vast amount of new information about these recordings that has come to light and repeating attributions that were suspect long ago. In contrast, the 60-page booklet that accompanies "And This Is Maxwell Street" is lavishly illustrated and highly informative and makes a notable effort to be honest about uncertain attributions. It is in itself almost worth the price of the discs. Perhaps most notable among the mistaken attributions on the disc reviewed here is the attribution of "Mama, Talk To Your Daughter" as being performed by J.B. Lenoir. The title of this disc claims that these tracks have been remastered, but it sounds identical to the old one to me. At least one record store manager has said to me he thinks even the LP sounded better than this. In short, I see no reason to bother with this disc. Go straight to "And This Is Maxwell Street.""
One of the all-time classic blues records
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 01/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Lee McCollum was one of the major innovators of electric blues. He was a stylish and extremely versatile slide guitarist, and the man behind blues classics such as "Anna Lee" and the definitive reading of "Sweet Black Angel" (a song which is usually associated with B.B. King, who re-named it "Sweet Little Angel").
Nighthawk was a source of inspiration to both Muddy Waters and Elmore James, and it is easy to understand why once you have listened to this album.
Producer Norman Dayron recorded Nighthawk for his film "And this is Live" on the corner of Peoria and 14th Street in Chicago, Illinois, on September 24th 1964, and all 125 minutes of recordings are avilable on the excellent box set "And This Is Maxwell Street".
That one is a treasure for sure, but slightly more casual fans should be aware that almost all of the recordings featuring Robert Nighthawk are included on this disc, and the remaining sides, which features artists like Big John Wrencher and Arvella Gray, are perhaps more for the truly dedicated. Me, I love the two-hour box set, but I have no doubt that a lot of people will be better served by this condensed version.
These sides are certainly terrific no matter how you look at it. Robert Nighthawk is backed by just drums and a rhythm guitar on most of the tracks, although on three or four of them, harpist Carey Bell lends a hand.
The sound is surprisingly good, considering the circumstances (you can sometimes hear people talking, applauding and yelling in the background, and even a car driving by!), and the songs are simply excellent. Nighthawk does a raw, powerful cover of Big Joe Turner's "Honey Hush", a slow, menacing "Cheating And Lying Blues", a mournful "I Need Your Love So Bad", and a terrific medley of "Anna Lee" and "Sweet Black Angel" which will make you look quite silly as you move your upper body back and forth to the rhythm!
Nighthawk's amplified slide guitar playing is every bit as powerful as anything ever recorded by Muddy Waters or slide specialist Earl Hooker, and since he usually played in standart tuning (an unusual choice), he was able to suddenly crank out a fiery, twelve-bar single-string solo...evident on "The Time Have Come", which should be a blueprint for everyone who wishes to play electric blues!
On the CD reissue of this album, four bonus cuts and an interview segment with Nighthawk is added. One of the bonus tracks is an exuberant live version of "Mama Talk To Your Daughter", the J.B. Lenoir classic, and even though it's really impossible to be sure, the credits list Lenoir himself as the singer. A more likely bid appears to be the lesser-known Robert "Big Mojo" Elam, however. He seems to have gotten his nickname because of his rousing performances of the song "Mojo Boogie" by, yes, J.B. Lenoir.
Robert Nighthawk never achieved the blues icon status of his Chicago contemporaries Waters, Earl Hooker and Elmore James, partly because of his seeming lack of interest in recording, but he was nevertheless one of the first to effortlessly bridge the gap between country blues and urban blues, and he should be recognized as one of the true greats of the Chicago blues scene. His slide guitar playing could be raw and gritty or smooth as cream, and this album is one of the essentials of any collection of electric Chicago blues (along with "Muddy Waters at Newport", "Down And Out Blues" by Sonny Boy Williamson II, Howlin' Wolf's first two LPs, and pretty much anything by Elmore James!)."
Nighthawk: Master of the Slide
D. B Pepper | Plainview, NY United States | 05/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Nighthawk is a true master of slide guitar. His slide playing is low-down, dark, emotive, and causes me to make all kinds of strange facial expressions. Nighthawk had a relaxed singing voice and a decent variety of blues lyrics, though his real strength was his killer guitar playing. However, the song "Mama, Talk To Your Daughter" keeps me from giving this album 5 stars. The singer, who is probably not J.B. Lenoir, doesn't have the greatest voice and sometimes forgets to sing directly into the microphone. The song is also very repetitive, and is better when it's kept to three minutes or so in length, like Lenoir or John Lee Hooker's versions of it. Don't get me wrong; this is an awesome album, and one of the top three greatest live blues albums of all-time. The thirteen minute interview is very enjoyable and revealing. Nighthawk seems like a quiet, reserved, humble man, and it's a shame that some of the slide playing he demonstrates in the interview didn't provoke him to disregard the interview altogether and play entire songs! One can definitely see where Muddy Waters' solo on his live version of "Streamline Woman" came from; Muddy borrowed it from Nighthawk. As another reviewer said, if you are interested in the California, studio-produced, obnoxious, crappy music that is an indication of the downfall of Western Civilization, avoid this album because you won't like it. If you are interested in authentic electric blues, forget about Vaughan, Clapton and Johnny Winter for now, and get to the heart of electric blues- Robert Nighthawk, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf."