I’m thinking about him tonight particularly because I was listening to Chicago/ the blues/today! In the car tonight and i realised I’m now playing versions of 4 of the 5 songs he contributed to that album.
I’ve just started singing “it hurts me too” in the band. We had been playing it modelled on Elmore James’ approach, sometimes in D, sometimes E. I could never sing it there, so left to the other vocalist. now that I’m the sole vocal ive shifted it to A and that reminded me that Jr Wells made a recording of it for this album
Tonight I was listening very carefully to his solo in It Hurts Me Too. I probably haven’t really broken down many 8 bar solos before so maybe I’m easily impressed, but i think what he does in this one is really something. It’s not that its difficult or very complex. On the contrary, its beauty is largely in simplicity combined with excellent tone and use of space contrasted with intensity. But there’s also measures 5 and 6 of the 2nd chorus which to me are pure brilliance on a par with Little Walter’s 1st position work (i think there’s a book in LW’s 1st position work)
at 1'39" in the clip above begins the part i'm talking about.
on a D harp he plays 2draw 3"draw whole step bend (EDIT: probably that should say the half step!listening to my recording i'm flat there every time i play it) 3 draw (A B C sharp if you like), then plays the octave split on 1-4 draw, he hits that twice then goes to the split 2-5 blow, 3-6 blow, 2-5 blow.
it took me a few listens to register that he goes to the splits in that part. you can play it with just the low octave notes and it sounds fine but the texture from the octaves is nice
because i tongue block and had learned to play the notes on the low end it took a little conscious effort to get my tongue to go the other side but easy really when i thought about it. id actually forgotten i could use the 3 blow instead of the 2 draw and i was trying to work out how he got the octave sound with the 2 draw...then the epiphany that its 3-6...much easier than id been thinking.
anyway its a beautiful passage imho and the little run he uses to follow it is nice too
Last Edited by SuperBee on Jan 26, 2019 2:16 AM
this is a rough recording we made last night. the song is a bit long i'm sorry, but hopefully it isnt too horribly dreary to get through. i forgot the 3rd verse and did the 4th instead, then made it all go around again so i could do the 3rd before the 4th...made for a very long song but i'm calling it a learning experience
Last Edited by SuperBee on Jan 26, 2019 12:46 AM
There is no rule that just because a song is done in one key, that every subsequent version must be done in the exact same key. Rice Miller recorded Help Me in F, Junior (and almost everyone else) played it in A. There are a zillion examples of this in the Blues World.
One of the other things about Blues is that you don't need to go balls out on every tune. What Junior does on most of his tunes (especially in his later years) is get in, deliver a message with his solo and get out. What he plays depends on the groove of the song. Most 8 bar blues tend to be a vehicle for tasteful economy. There isn't a ton of time before the turnaround.
Some keys are easier for guitar players, others are easier for horn players. For us, we just switch out the instrument. The most important thing is that the key of the tune fits within the vocalist's range.
yeah our guitarist just insisted on playing slide in either D or E on a bunch of elmore james' songs. it was all about the guitar, so since i couldn't sing it there i let him sing it. when the guy left the band, that was a song i wanted to keep but i had to change the key for me. i'd forgotten about the Jr Wells take on the song because we'd been focussed on these slide-heavy versions. i enjoyed listening to Jr's version and trying to break it down.
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