IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
An icon of Blues and R&B, Phil Chess, passed away this week.
Phil and his brother Leonard co-founded Chess Records in Chicago, home to such artists as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.
Here’s one of my favorites from Chess – “Wang Dang Doodle” by Koko Taylor
“WDD” was written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Howlin’ Wolf, but it’s Taylor’s version that hit with an audience. The gender switch makes it really sassy.
I don’t know if you could say that The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, the initial Fleetwood Mac and Cream wouldn’t have existed without Chess Records, but it’s pretty safe to say without Chess they wouldn’t have sounded the same.
The Rolling Stones visited Chess Studios on their first visit to the US in June 1964. In fact, they were totally psyched to not only get to look around but to actually record in the same room as their blues heroes.
One of the tracks they laid down was an instrumental called “2120 South Michigan Avenue.”
The title of the song pays tribute to Chess Studios – it calls out the street address. The writing credit was given to Nanker Phelge, a pseudonym used by the Stones in the early days for group compositions.
The version heard in the US on the album 12 x 5 was only about two minutes long. I have a German release of Around and Around that has an extended version that runs about three and a half minutes. That version was used on the CD release of 12 x 5 and is the one I’ve presented here.
Phil Chess was 95 years old when he died in Arizona. May he rest in peace.
Enjoy… until next week.