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Satan and Adam



"[S]ucceed[s] in capturing the energy, rawness, and spontaneity of a great blues street performance....Adam Gussow and Sterling Magee have never sounded more alive and bluesy....a mesmerizing trip down memory lane."  Living Blues magazine, Oct. 2008.


Sterling Magee and Adam Gussow return with the first new Satan and Adam album in 12 years!

14 songs, including "Big Boss Man," "What'd I Say," "Every Day I Have the Blues," and many funky, bluesy originals.  High quality, 145+ kb/s mp3s, mastered by a pro who happens to be a fan of the band.  More than two hours of Harlem street blues.

I recorded these tracks in 1989,  only six months before we went into the studio to lay down the first half of our debut album, Harlem Blues.  Although I'm proud of each of our three studio albums, nothing on them quite represents what we were about.  We began, and will always be, a busking duo:  a couple of wildly energetic New York guys who take familiar songs, hurl them in a dozen different directions, and wring out every last drop of juice.

In the studio, we were forced to compress songs to fit the album form.   Here, in Word on the Street, you've got how we actually sounded.  Six of the songs on the album are 10 minutes or longer; one is more than 15 minutes.

This album puts you right there on 125th Street, a block from the Apollo Theater, with the warm, gritty street life swirling around you.  

No other guitar/harmonica duo sounds remotely like Satan and Adam.  There are many reasons for this.  One is Magee's homemade trapset, featuring a matched pair of hi-hats, topped with tambourines, all laced down to a wooden clack-board.  Another is Magee's one-of-a-kind guitar style:  a combination of funk chord forms, groove-jazz feel, open droning strings, and 32nd note strums.  Soulful vocals, of course.  And Gussow's overblow-propelled harp, calling and responding, anchoring the groove.

Most of all, Satan and Adam is about relentless risk-taking.  Make it new, make it hot, make it different.  This is not your grandma's same old retro blues! 



Here's a review by Lou Novacheck (9/9/08):


“Mr. Satan and the white boy who played with him up by the phone company.” That’s what they called themselves before they became Satan and Adam.

Satan and Adam aren’t household names, but they should be. Honest-to-goodness street buskers, straight from the streets of Harlem. And as all good street players should, they start this double-disc set off with a get down, stay down fast shuffle, that if you’re not at least nodding and tapping your foot to, you should patent your thick skin.

The sound is raw, but that’s the way good, authentic blues is supposed to sound, ain’t it? By raw, I mean it’s stripped down, just a two-man band playing guitar, a shaker, and blues harp, the noise of the street filtering in now and again, laughter, some Gospel, traffic, the ubiquitous car alarm. Minimum technical equipment, maximum technical ability, mixed with good, good blues. The sound of Old Mississippi, 80 years ago, when you could find playing on the street people like Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Honey Boy Edwards (who’s still playing), Sonny Boy Williamson, Mississippi John Hurt, Sleepy John Estes, Johnny Shines, and a host of other of those glorious progenitors of Country Blues, the real American music.  And considering this entire set, less the interview, was recorded on a "$79 Radio Shack boom-box," it's absolutely amazing.

As the better street buskers know, you have to play what moves people, and these tunes do what they’re supposed to. And what keeps people moving? Jams, and longer jams keep them moving longer. And of course the prime consideration when you’re a busker, do they drop money in your hat in appreciation? No money? Guess who doesn’t eat? And speaking of jams, there are only 15 cuts on this double-disc set, but when their running time tallies up to nine, 10, 11, 14, and 15 minutes, you’ve got some seriously funky jams.

What’s especially amazing about this duo is they never rehearsed. The first time they did a song together, it was in front of the most demanding audience in the world: the street. And it seems not long after that they were playing at New Orleans’ JazzFest, and opening for Bo Diddley. They also make a brief appearance in the U2 movie Rattle and Hum.

You won’t find any better or more funky, authentic Delta blues, in their own inimitable manner, than what’s on these discs. From the first cut, “Funky Revival,” which sets the tough standard for the entire package, to the final cut, “Noah Adams – NPR (1991)," an interview, which makes it compleat. Don’t miss this interview, and especially Mr. Satan’s convoluted explanation of his name.

Although Sterling Magee is currently living in a Care Home, and even though Adam Gussow gives lessons, has a superb learning website, tours occasionally as a blues scholar and speaker, and holds down a professorship at UMiss, the two still play together on rare occasions. If you ever hear of Satan and Adam playing, anywhere, anytime, even if you have to drive a couple hundred miles, see them! You won’t regret it.