Blue Guitars

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Blue Guitars
Studio album by Chris Rea
Released October 17, 2005
Recorded 2004–2005
Genre Blues
Label Jazzee Blue
Producer Chris Rea, Andy Wilman
Chris Rea chronology
The Blue Jukebox
(2004)
Blue Guitars
(2005)
The Return of the Fabulous Hofner Blue Notes
(2008)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic (not rated, no review) link

Blue Guitars is a Blues album released by Chris Rea on October 14, 2005 consisting of eleven CDs, one DVD and a full colour book, including paintings by the artist, liner notes and song lyrics. The album is an ambitious project with the 137 songs recorded over the course of 1½ years with a work schedule - according to Chris Rea himself - of twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Initially the project was inspired by Bill Wyman's "Blues Odyssey" and can be called an "odyssey" in its own right, for depicting a journey through the various epochs of Blues Music, starting at its African origins and finishing with modern-time Blues from the 60s and 70s. Subsequently the eleven CDs are titled the following: "Beginnings", "Country Blues", "Louisiana & New Orleans", "Electric Memphis Blues", "Texas Blues", "Chicago Blues", "Blues Ballads", "Gospel Soul Blues & Motown", "Celtic & Irish Blues", "Latin Blues" and "60s & 70s".

The collection is the fifth and last release in a line of Blues recordings Chris Rea has made since recovering from a serious disease at the turn of the millennium and promising himself a return to his Bluesy roots in the event that he survived. According to Rea "Blue Guitars" will be his last solo effort; however, he will continue to release albums as a member of the band "Memphis Fireflies".

Albums[edit]

The eleven separate records which comprise "Blue Guitars" could as well stand on their own; in combination, however, they provide a journey through the different epochs of the Blues, showing the various components that have been added to the original African Blues over time, the changes in instrumentation, style, lyrical expression and thematic implications. Thereby Chris Rea and his band imitate the various styles and lyrical topics, creating an instantly recognisable atmosphere on each record, with the first few songs usually setting up the direction in which the record is going and then developing to various styles within the field of each record.

Album Number One - Beginnings[edit]

The first album of this set deals with the very beginnings of the Blues, tracing its ways back to its African roots. Living conditions were hard, many African natives were taken captives and transported across the ocean to be sold as slaves, sometimes even betrayed by their own people, which is vividly depicted in the song "The King Who Sold His Own". All in all it was an environment, where it was only natural for the Blues to develop, and even though the instrumentation and the construction of the songs was still very different from what we now know as Blues, the basics were already there: the sadness, the strain, the burdens, the depression, the feeling of "blue" and - of course - the underlying musical structure.

Tracklist:

  1. " West Africa - 4.14
  2. " Cry for Home - 4.58
  3. " The King Who Sold his Own - 5.18
  4. " White Man Coming - 4.01
  5. " Where The Blues Come From - 6.18
  6. " Lord Tell Me It Won't Be Long - 4.58
  7. " Work Gang - 4.32
  8. " Praise The Lord - 4.41
  9. " Sweet Sunday - 5.38
  10. " Sing Out The Devil - 6.08
  11. " Boss Man Cut My Chains - 3.21

Album Number Two - Country Blues[edit]

Country Blues was the natural development, the original Blues would go, once it had arrived in the American South: it was a dark time, a time of fear, people had to work hard during slavery, even harder after they had been released, wandering around unemployed, aimlessly. Racism and KKK made the situation even worse, which reflected in the music, instrumentation gradually changed and the lyrics told stories of fear (KKK Blues), aimless wandering (Walkin' Country Blues), alcoholism (Too Much Drinkin'), but also the flight from prevailing conditions, maybe with another perspective for life and the future in the big cities (Ticket for Chicago). But also themes of movement (Steam Train Blues) and the faith in God and Religion (If You've Got A Friend In Jesus) were made topics in the songs, as well as the occasional search for some recreation and a good time (Dance All Night Long). The social and personal problems found their way into the music and started to change the Blues on a profound level.

Tracklist:

  1. " Walkin' Country Blues - 3.40
  2. " Man Gone Missing - 4.40
  3. " Can't Stay Blues - 4.58
  4. " KKK Blues - 4.56
  5. " Too Much Drinkin' - 4.52
  6. " Catwalk Woman - 4.32
  7. " If You've Got A Friend in Jesus - 4.24
  8. " Head Out On The Highway - 4.32
  9. " Wild Pony - 4.10
  10. " Steam Train Blues - 3.50
  11. " Going Up To Memphis - 4.20
  12. " Somewhere Between Highway 61 & 49 - 6.06
  13. " Ticket For Chicago - 5.16
  14. " Dance All Night Long - 4.31

Album Number Three - Louisiana & New Orleans[edit]

The Blues presented on this record may be "The Blues" to many.[who?] When the originally African and South-influenced Blues were brought to Louisiana, New Orleans, the Mississippi Delta, new instruments were added—clarinet, brass, piano, mandolins, accordions - and along with the banjo mingled into an interesting mix, which would be known as New Orleans, Swamp, Cajun or Riverboat Blues. The basics for directions like Jazz, Swing and even Rock & Roll were laid during this time and a distinctive, instantly recognizable sound was created, which would imminently be associated with the Blues.

Tracklist:

  1. " Two Days Missing Down The Viper Room - 2.56
  2. " Who Cares If I Do - 4.23
  3. " What Made Me Love You - 3.16
  4. " You Got Dixie - 4.41
  5. " One Night With You - 5.29
  6. " Talking 'bout New Orleans - 5.27
  7. " Le Fleur De La Vie - 3.13
  8. " Catfish Girl - 3.50
  9. " Only A Fool Plays By The Rules - 4.00
  10. " Baby Come Home - 3.30
  11. " Dance Avec Moi - 3.15
  12. " L'ete Eternal - 3.31

Album Number Four - Electric Memphis Blues[edit]

The title says it all, "Going Electric", that's what this album is about, and what a change it was for the Blues and Blues Musicians, finally they could make themselves heard among the loud crowds and stuffed places, they usually used to play. It was a tremendous change in the way, the Blues could be approached, fine and subtle figures and fine chord structures could suddenly be played, the Blues was rising to previously unbeknown heights: "Now I can play above the bar noise, Man I'm bigger than a crowd" as Rea states in the opener "Electric Guitar", which perfectly paraphrases, what musicians must have felt, after this milestone revolution. Nor did "electric" stop at the guitars - organs, pianos, keyboards, all was going electric, studios started to play around with the new electric sound, the possibilities seemed endless.

Tracklist:

  1. " Electric Guitar - 4.42
  2. " Electric Memphis Blues - 4.15
  3. " All Night Long - 4.11
  4. " Born Bad - 3.46
  5. " Let's Start Again - 3.52
  6. " What I'm Looking For - 4.26
  7. " Rules Of Love - 3.12
  8. " What You Done To Me - 3.28
  9. " Hobo Love Blues - 3.38
  10. " Pass Me By - 3.06
  11. " The Soul Of My Father's Shadow - 3.52
  12. " My Blue World Says Hello - 4.06

Album Number Five - Texas Blues[edit]

And yet another direction, the Blues was morphing into. Take the basic concept, move it into the "modern wild west" and what you get out of it is straightforward Texas Blues. It's all in there, endless highways, run-down trucker bars, oil, dirt, cowboy boots, stories about life on the move, all down in Texas, all just as sad as the original Blues (Lone Star Boogie, No Wheels Blues). The mixture of the basic Blues concept with more country and western styled instruments (slide guitars, harmonica) gave the Blues a rawer, yet again still instantly recognizable sound, which has played a major role in music ever since - go Stevie Vaughan and ZZ Top!!

"I still remember, the place we used to go, dreaming dreams of Texas, as we pushed hard through the snow" - Chris Rea

Tracklist:

  1. " Lone Rider (Texas Blues) - 4.44
  2. " Texas Blue - 5.10
  3. " No Wheels Blues - 5.02
  4. " Lone Star Boogie - 5.16
  5. " Blind Willie - 6.48
  6. " The American Way - 4.07
  7. " Angellina - 4.47
  8. " Truck Stop - 4.49
  9. " Weekend Down Mexico - 4.20
  10. " Texas Line Boogie - 4.41
  11. " Too Big City - 5.02
  12. " Houston Angel - 3.59

Album Number Six - Chicago Blues[edit]

Again it was movement that was pushing the Blues into a new direction, movement upwards North to Chicago in the pursuit of jobs and a new life. People suddenly found themselves in a completely different situation and this instantly influenced the Blues, the electric style, developed earlier on in Electric Memphis and Texas Blues, remained, however became harder and edgier, instruments like the saxophone were incorporated into the music and gave this new hybrid a sometimes jazzy feel. Once again, the lyric themes shifted away from known territory and began to reflect the changed situation, drugs, alcohol, sex, women, money gained major importance, life in wintry ghettos and anonymous housing schemes contributed its share: Chicago Blues was born.

Tracklist:

  1. " I'm Moving Up (Chicago Blues) - 4.30
  2. " Maxwell Street - 4.39
  3. " Bob Taylor - 5.15
  4. " She's A Whole Heap Of Trouble - 2.30
  5. " Jazzy Blue - 3.24
  6. " Hip-Sway - 3.39
  7. " That's The Way It Goes - 3.32
  8. " To Get Your Love - 5.07
  9. " Chicago Morning - 4.56
  10. " Catwalk Woman - 3.35
  11. " Since You've Been Gone - 4.09
  12. " All Night Long - 5.27
  13. " Here She Come Now - 4.14

Album Number Seven - Blues Ballads[edit]

With the incorporation of the piano and other new elements, such as swing and jazz, according to Chris Rea a somehow "sleepy morphine-induced style" came to be, which is a pretty accurate description of those Blues Ballads. The original, primitive influences are no longer recognizable, replaced by a calmer, smoother, more polished, yet nonetheless still recognizable, style of Blues. All that constituted the Blues in the past is still there.

Tracklist:

  1. " Last Call (Blues Ballads) - 3.41
  2. " Maybe That's All I Need To Know - 4.28
  3. " Deep Winter Blues - 5.09
  4. " If I Ever Get Over You - 5.08
  5. " I Love The Rain - 4.35
  6. " My Soul Crying Out For You - 3.38
  7. " If That's What You Want - 4.18
  8. " There's No One Looking - 5.34
  9. " What Became Of You - 4.54
  10. " My Deep Blue Ways - 4.25

Album Number Eight - Gospel Soul Blues & Motown[edit]

While the basic structures and rhythms of the Blues remained true to the original, still a new generation moved the Blues onwards, banjo style played on electric guitar became the electric "sitar", the sound hit the nerve of the Indy/Hippie generation, instantly recognizable: Tamla Motown. Softer and easier accessible than previous hybrids of the Blues, basically every song was a hit.

Tracklist:

  1. " Sweet Love - 4.25
  2. " Break Another Piece Of My Heart - 4.39
  3. " Ball & Chain - 5.08
  4. " Gospel Trail - 5.05
  5. " Shy Boy - 3.52
  6. " Come Change My World - 4.15
  7. " Call On Me - 4.10
  8. " Just In Case You Never Knew - 4.29
  9. " Let Me In - 5.52
  10. " I’ll Be There For You - 4.18
  11. " The Pain Of Loving You - 3.57
  12. " Are You Ready - 6.08

Album Number Nine - Celtic & Irish Blues[edit]

The Blues went in yet another direction, when it started to mingle with Celtic and Scottish/Irish influences, forming still another hybrid. The general feeling of sadness, loss and blues, which is inherent in the Scottish, Irish and Celtic roots anyway, together with an all new instrumentation could lay the basis for a different kind of approach, giving the Blues the typical Celtic feel.

Tracklist:

  1. " Celtic Blue (Celtic And Irish Blues) - 8.11
  2. " Too Far From Home - 7.28
  3. " 'Til The Morning Sun Shines On My Love And Me - 5.39
  4. " Lucky Day - 5.16
  5. " What She Really Is - 5.03
  6. " Wishing Well - 4.11
  7. " Irish Blues - 4.14
  8. " No More Sorrow - 6.05
  9. " While I Remain - 5.30
  10. " Last Drink - 5.17
  11. " 'Til I Find My True Love's Name - 3.42
  12. " Big White Door - 5.36

Album Number Ten - Latin Blues[edit]

Latin Music may not be the most obvious direction to look for the Blues, still there were great influences from the African culture with slaves landing in Brazil, who influenced the Caribbeans from their own direction, Cuban guitar and some kind of trademark piano were added, creating a mix so different from Mississippi Blues, and yet, Bossa Nova Blues was a direction in its own right. The Blues was even swapping over into Reggae, but in spite of its "sunshine feeling" the themes and topics were just as sad.

Tracklist:

  1. " Hey Gringo (Latin Blues) - 6.04
  2. " Immigration Blues - 5.19
  3. " Still Trying To Clear My Name - 4.26
  4. " Sun Is Hot - 4.28
  5. " Screw You And Your Deep Blue Sea - 4.43
  6. " Nothing Seems To Matter No More - 3.55
  7. " Sometimes - 5.00
  8. " Lampiou - 5.46
  9. " Keep On Dancing - 3.56
  10. " Lucifer's Angel - 5.08
  11. " How I Know It's You - 4.17
  12. " Forever - 5.03
  13. " You Got Soul - 5.27
  14. " Bajan Blue - 4.57

Album Number Eleven - '60s and '70s[edit]

A new time, a new generation, a new variation of the Blues. Things had started changing once again and once again, the whole 200-year-history of the Blues was thrown over in the split of a second, when Blues suddenly started to sound old again, respect was paid to the ancestors of modern Blues music, but there was also Woodstock, the Flower Power Movement, all those kinds of currencies that were interpreting the Blues in their own way and cave it a new face.

Tracklist:

  1. " My Baby Told Me (Blues)(60s/70s) - 2.55
  2. " Got To Be Moving - 4.03
  3. " My Baby Told Me (Gospel) - 3.19
  4. " Heartbreaker - 2.58
  5. " Yes I Do (Instrumental) - 3.28
  6. " Wasted Love - 4.44
  7. " Cool Cool Blue - 4.15
  8. " Clarkson Blues - 5.09
  9. " Who Killed Love - 4.27
  10. " Never Tie Me Down - 4.13
  11. " Mindless - 3.55
  12. " Ain't That Just The Prettiest Thing - 5.20
  13. " Nobody But You - 3.55
  14. " Waiting For Love - 4.57
  15. " Blue Morning In The Rain - 4.50

Album Number Twelve - Dancing Down The Stony Road DVD[edit]

This is a little add-on to the overall collection of music, some kind of making-of the Stony Road Album that Rea released in 2002, following the wake of his disease, his split with the record company and the process of coming to terms with his new style of music. The DVD might be especially interesting to those who own the album; there are many interviews with Rea and the Band, a lot of footage from the writing and the recording sessions and a thorough depiction of the process of making an idea become reality.

Personnel[edit]

  • Chris Rea - electric guitar, piano, harmonica, dobro, mandolin, banjo, slide guitar, bass, calimba, balafon, vibraphone, hammond organ, percussion, drums, author, producer, paintings
  • Robert Ahwai - guitar
  • Sylvin Marc - bass
  • Gerry O'Connor - banjo
  • Ed Hession - accordion
  • Martin Ditcham - drums
  • Richard Williams - narrator
  • Andy Wilman - producer
  • John Knowles - executive producer
  • Edward McDonald - recording engineer
  • Douglas Dreger - mixing
  • Aiden Farrell - editing
  • Chris Rodmell - editing
  • Robert Payton - director
  • Janina Stamps - production coordination
  • Jon Tricklebank - art direction, design
  • Mark Edwards - liner notes
  • Stuart Epps - photography

External links[edit]