Jan 10

The Howlin’ Wolf Story (2003) [DVD]

I really enjoyed Don McGlynn’s The Howlin’ Wolf Story (2003), which I saw on DVD. I think it’s one of the best blues documentaries I’ve seen. It’s a typical mix of archival footage and photos with contemporary talking heads interviews. It gives an overview of Wolf’s life and music. One of its strengths is that several songs are heard in entirety. Some are recordings behind a montage of images. The best segments are from a 1966 performance of Wolf with Hubert Sumlin, his lead guitarist, and others. There are also some clips of drummer Sam Lay’s home movies of Wolf and the band at Silvio’s Lounge in Chicago (now a vacant lot). One really gets a sense of what he might have been like as a performer. I would give almost anything to have seen him perform before his death in 1976.

Howlin’ Wolf is one of my blues heroes and mentors. While he’s not as well known, perhaps, as Muddy Waters, he’s of equal stature in his importance to the blues and his influence on later music, including rock ‘n’ roll.

Dec 09

Albert Collins and the Icebreakers: In Concert: Ohne Filter (1985) [DVD]

I finished watching Albert Collins and the Icebreakers: In Concert: Ohne Filter (1985) on DVD. It was the first of two 60-minute concerts Collins did for the German TV series Ohne Filter. It was good musically, but it wasn’t well shot, especially for anyone interested in Collins’ guitar playing. The use of red lighting wasn’t well suited to the TV cameras and the shot selection was often not what I would have liked. They often focused on someone other than the player who was soloing and didn’t show enough of Collins when he was playing or showed him from an angle that obscured his hands on the guitar. The 2003 Ohne Filter concert has similar problems, but was more successful.

Among the songs Collins played were “Listen Here,” “If Trouble Was Money,” “Skatin’,” “The Highway Is Like a Woman,” and “That Thing I Used to Do.” Southside Johnny joins the band on some numbers. I admire Albert Collins enormously and am a huge fan of his tone, so I’m glad I saw the DVD, but I don’t need to own it.