Search - Sugar Blue :: Blue Blazes

Blue Blazes
Sugar Blue
Blue Blazes
Genres: Blues, Pop
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

Sugar Blue is best known for his signature harmonica riff--at once bluesy and tuneful--on the Rolling Stones' hit, "Miss You," but he has recorded with everyone from Stan Getz and Bob Dylan to Willie Dixon and Johnny Shine...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Sugar Blue
Title: Blue Blazes
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Alligator Records
Release Date: 3/8/1994
Genres: Blues, Pop
Styles: Contemporary Blues, Electric Blues, Modern Blues, Harmonica Blues
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 014551481928, 014551481942

Sugar Blue is best known for his signature harmonica riff--at once bluesy and tuneful--on the Rolling Stones' hit, "Miss You," but he has recorded with everyone from Stan Getz and Bob Dylan to Willie Dixon and Johnny Shines. The diversity of those experiences helps account for the pop melodicism, jazzy harmonics and bluesy note-bendings of Sugar Blue's harmonica playing, but only his individual talent can account for the pure, piercing tone he achieves on the instrument. His latest album, "Blue Blazes," includes his own interpretation of "Miss You" as well as versions of Dixon's "Back Door Man" and other blues standards by James Cotton, Jimmy McCracklin and Jimmy Rogers. The songs may be familiar, but Sugar Blue's harmonica solos are revelatory. Playing with virtually no vibrato, he plays fast, single-note runs punctuated by accenting chords. He feels just as comfortable in the underexploited upper range of the instrument as in the lower. He's a competent singer and leads a solid band, but when he takes off on a stratospheric solo on Sonny Boy Williamson's "Help Me" or his own "Out Till Dawn," Sugar Blue is unlike any other bluesman before him. --Geoffrey Himes

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CD Reviews

Awsome Contemporary Harp
Alex | Colorado | 06/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Generally speaking, I am not usually too big on super high speed harpists. Most of those I have heard have very little command of any technique other than speed and even their super fast runs tend to sound too choppy to catch my ear. Sugar Blue is different. Though speed is his main claim to fame, Sugar demonstrates an ability to use octives and some vibrato. Granted, he won't make you forget Sonny Boy, Walter or Wells, but he's got them. His speed is nothing short of astounding. Unlike everyone else who uses super fast runs for effect, Sugar is perfectly fluid and you never hear choppy transitions. On top of this, he is much faster then any of the competition.Ahem. Now that I'm done catering to harp fanatics I will move on to the real review. This is Sugar's best album thanks to the fact that it is the only one I've heard where he doesn't perform wierd material that makes you raise your eyebrows. The music has a good funky edge to it which, though hardly conventional, is fun to listen to. I find it nice when I want to hear something that just makes me feel good. Admittedly, the song line up is a bit on the familiar side. "Help Me" is a near omnipresence in a harp player's first CD, and I have heard more versions of "That's All Right" than I care to count. However, these complaints are easily ignored in the face Blue's awsome instrumental prowse and the different spins he puts to the tracks. Personal favorites are the remake of "Miss You" (which I like even better than the Stones' version), a horn enhanced version of Dixon's "Back Door Man," on which Blue plays some of his best harmonica on the CD, and the outstanding original, "Out "Till Dawn," a song which embodies the very essence of cynicism, both in terms of lyrics and also in the guitar riff.Overall I would reccomend this album, especially is you want to hear speed harp done right. Be a little wary of the follow up, "In Your Eyes," though. While it is even more revolutionary than this one, it is much further removed from tradition, and thus may not appeal to purists."
A talented musician in top form
Alex | 10/01/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Sugar Blue seems to be controversial in some blues circles, perhaps because his playing leaps from traditional blues into jazz and rock and whatever. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a talented blues musician, one of the best harmonica players, with a sound like no other. This album is a good representation of his great talent. Although the energy level never again matches that of the opening number ("I Ain't Got You"), his playing is deft and often amazing throughout, on his versions of blues classics such as "Help Me," and some original tunes. Sugar Blue is only fair as a singer. I was also a little disappointed in the lack of space given to other musicians in the band: the album is all Sugar Blue. If you ever get a chance to hear his music from the 1980s (There is a recording called "Cross Roads" from France, for example), you can hear the fine, jazzy give-and-take that he is capable of with other musicians. Overall, this is fine album for fans of contemporary electric blues."
. | Chicago, IL USA | 12/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"In a world that craves novelty, Sugar Blue was that new flavor that caught the public's fancy. When controlled by outside forces, such as the Stones on 'Miss you', his chops can be fit into a musical form. On his own, SB seems more interested in dominating the instrument than making sure the music coming out of it is good. When did 'Miss you' come out, 1978?"