Friday, September 28, 2012

Peter Green and Splinter Group in Soho

You gotta love a store like the SuperSpar in Robertson that not only looks modern, clean and appealing but also sells a multitude of good products in a small town, including freshly made sushi prepared by an Oriental sushi chef, and in addition has a selection of CDs you would not ordinarily find elsewhere.

On the one hand there is a varied selection of Afrikaans acts, most of them unfamiliar to me, and on the other hand there is a choice of cheap CDs too, such as a compilation of Fleetwood Mac tracks from the purist blues incarnation of the band when Peter Green was the undisputed leader with some of the most heart wrenching original, non-Deep South blues on offer. This collection has "Albatross" and "Black Magic Woman" and a slew of fine blues numbers, and all for just R39,99. It can't be beat.

Of course, I already own, and have owned, in different formats, all of the songs on this budget CD. It was the price that tempted me into buying this memento of a wonderful weekend in Robertson.

Anyhow, I've loved the blues of Fleetwood Mac from my first listen to Fleetwood Mac: The Vintage Years, a double album of tracks recorded for the Blue Horizon label. Peter Green had a doleful, tremendously sad kind of voice, with that Jewish weltschmerz thing going on, equally resigned and sometimes defiant blues lyrics and a killer guitar tone. Although I also truly adored the playing of Eric Clapton with John Mayall and Cream, Peter Green somehow seemed to be a deeper, more authentic bluesman than Clapton could hope to be. For one thing, Clapton (at least in his early years as star musician) did not particularly write blues and seemed to prefer bluesy psychedelia, which may have been more innovative than the Green approach, and not bad in and of itself, but was not as satisfactory.

Peter Green and Syd Barrett are perhaps the most famous, or notorious, LSD casualties of the crop of British musicians who broke through to popular success in the mid-Sixties, post Beatles period. In about 1970 and when Fleetwood Mac were riding high as blues act and about to move beyond that box, Green's acid intake fried his brains and he left the group for a life of obscurity, initially completely outside the music industry, subjected (allegedly) to all kinds of interesting psychiatric treatment. In the late Seventies he returned with a trio of albums on PVK Records with weirdly laid back (actually just enervated) music that was neither the rollicking blues of early Fleetwood Mac nor the highly tuned pop rock of the later Fleetwood Mac.

Chris Prior liked these albums enough to play tracks from them on his radio show of the time. For the life of me I could not understand why this stuff had been released at all. The word soporific seems to have been coined for these slow, depressed sounding songs with none of the fiery attack of the younger man. Perhaps the medication had so fried his synapses that he only retained the technical ability to play guitar but not the genius.

Green did not give up, though. After the early-Eighties success of Stevie Ray Vaughan and even the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and the Clapton blues approach of the Nineties, blues became popular again and Green could make a decent living at the craft of playing the music he obviously loved. He formed the Splinter Group and played gigs where-ever anyone would have him, and even recorded again.

The Robert Johnson Songbook album became a special project for him, much like Eric Clapton with this Me & Mr Johnson and The Sessions for Robert J albums. I never bought any of the Splinter Group releases because they were quite expensive in Cape Town and I had my suspicions about the quality of the work on those albums. There was no way I was going to waste R300 on a piece of dubious material by a musician whose work I no longer trusted. In the meantime I bought every blues era Fleetwood Mac album, live collection or compilation I could find.

On my most recent holiday in the UK, in April 2012, I not only found the CD of Kiln House, the first post Peter Green album by Fleetwood Mac (and of which I'd once owned the record) but also took a daring step and bought a double CD collection of tracks recorded live at London's Ronnie Scott's club in 1998. It was cheap especially given that it is a double album. The title is Soho Live, at Ronnie Scott's.

In possibly late 2011 I'd bought a different collection of live tracks from a Fleetwood Mac member, this time by a blues band put together by Mick Fleetwood, with guitarist Rick Vito doing duty as replacement for both Peter Green and Lindsey Buckingham.

Apart from the Fleetwood Mac member, both albums have in common that the bands perform Fleetwood Mac material and that in both cases the product is not very satisfying as blues albums. The musicians are highly proficient and have been playing these songs for a long time, yet the pervading feel and atmosphere is of high end bar bands going through the motions, as if the musicians have been playing the songs far too often to be able to extract anything new from them anymore.

The first disc of Soho Live comprises of 4 Peter Green compositions associated with Fleetwood Mac, and four blues standards, while the second disc concentrates on Robert Johnson songs but with one Green tune in "The Green Manalishi" and three other blues standards. The musicians have played with Green for many years and everyone is very proficient on his instrument and knows the material well. The major problem with this set is that it is too proficient. The performances are kind of pristinely well executed with no sweat or urgency.

One of the first shocks is Peter Green's almost unrecognisably ragged voice on opening cut, "It takes Time", one of two Otis Rush songs on the disc. It's as if Green's vocal chords were first cut and then sandblasted. Maybe it was first song nerves, as his voice improves as the set moves along. The Green guitar style is present and correct and still thrills even if one detects a loss of the sharpness of yore. The music also comes across as somewhat stodgy and the rhythm section has little swing. I guess Green will probably never be reunited with his old rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood and that is a pity. For a bunch of English guys they could sure play the blues as if they were born in Chicago. The Splinter Group members were clearly born in the UK and cannot be faulted for taste and subtlety. They just do not seem to swing enough and the entire presentation smacks a tad too much of veteran musicians doing what they do for a living very well and without actual passion.

For this reason it is difficult to pick out any highlights or weaknesses on the first disc. The band delivers what it promises on the label.

I first heard Otis Rush's "Homework" in J Geils Band's live take on Live Full House and much later the Fleetwood Mac version on Blues Jam in Chicago. Both versions are rather faster and lighter of touch than the Splinter Group offering. It's as if age has truly slowed the guys down but I guess they chose to slow down the tempo. The loss of urgency sucks the excitement from the song and makes it more of a lament than it was to start with. In fact, this really sounds like some old guy leering at school girls he can no really longer entice because he has neither money nor looks.

Dr Feelgood recorded a version "Hey, Mama, Keep your big Mouth Shut" for the Sneakin' Suspicion album and managed to turn the usually reliably exciting Bo Diddley riff into a dull grind and on this album the Splinter Group repeats this feat. I can hear the attempt at a great groovin' riff that falls flat because the syncopation just ain't there. It is too precise, too fastidious. A relaxed, loose take with more urgency would have made for a killer track. This is not an irredeemably horrible version of the tune, simply not a very exciting one.

The band do better with "The Supernatural", an ethereal, spooky instrumental in the vein of "Albatross" and even "Rattlesnake Shake" though this live take is a good deal different to the Fleetwood Mac original. The reimagined live shot does not have the menace of the original version but bounces along nicely with good humour and solid playing that for once do justice to the tune. This live version of "Albatross" also does the original justice with just a wash of organ in the background for a new instrumental texture, which, served up in a more bombastic vein, almost ruins "Shake Your Hips" by rudely intruding on the lissom, playful signature riff. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time but here it is just a blemish on an otherwise good version.

The first five tunes on the second disc are from the Robert Johnson songbook and opening cut "Travelling Riverside Blues" is not sung by Green but by Nigel Watson. The first two tunes are acoustic, with only guitar and Green's blues harp backing and once again the flaw is that though the songs are played well enough the vocals completely lack the driven passion of the Robert Johnson originals. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that Eric Clapton's versions of these songs outpunch the Splinter Group's interpretations for dexterity, insight and pure unadulterated fun. Even more pertinently, Jeremy Spencer's piano version of "Hellhound On My Trail" on Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac is possibly the absolutely best take on any Robert Johnson song that I have ever heard.

The band kicks in from the third tune and on "Last Fair Deal Going Down" and "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day" the so-called Street Angels join in to bring a little infusion of gospel fervour to the performances, very reminiscent of the type of thing Delaney and Bonnie did on their Motel Shot album. The earlier po-faced, sober and almost solemn acoustic readings of the Johnson tunes now really seem diminished in stature in contrast to these rollicking, rambunctious workouts. Even blues about death and the Final Judgment can be hugely enjoyable.

"Green Manalishi" brings back some tasty menace and mystery in a powerful rendition that continuously simmers like a witches brew. Green plays his most forceful, inspired solo of the night. For a change the almost heavy rock organ forcing its turbulent way through the rest of the instruments supports the mood of the tune. A triumph.

"Goin Down" maintains the faster tempo and "Help Me" slows it down again with, presumably, that amazing thing Peter Green can also do with a blues harp. He may not be the greatest virtuoso on this instrument but he can sure make it do things that run shivers up and down my spine. I've heard various versions of this old warhorse through the years and Sonny Boy Williamson probably still does it best. Here Green's torn and tattered voice fits perfectly and the slinky groove of the riff is rendered to perfection by the band. This is a blues for listening to in the dark when you are alone and desperate.

The set ends with "Look On Yonder Wall", a tune I know best as a slide guitar driven monster, also performed in many versions by many musicians. My favourite version, the first one I ever heard, is by Homesick James, some relative of Elmore James, which sounds extremely primitive and loose, as if it really was recorded in some tar paper shack in the Mississippi Delta by a bunch of share croppers who only ever play at fish fries or country juke joints. The Splinter Group give it the big gun journeymen treatment that befits a set closer. Green's vocal would have suited the somewhat more muted Homesick James version and the band's grandstanding is at odds with Green's take on the song. A few more grammes of intensity are required.

Maybe White blues is a young man's game. This live collection is not bad. It is simply not terribly exciting. On the same holiday that I bought the Splinter Group album I also bought one of the single discs in 'n three separate disc set of albums recording a gig the Peter Green Fleetwood Mac played at the Boston Tea Party circa 1970, a concert that has been released in so many chopped and changed versions it almost demands a discography of its own. My first version of it was on a record called Fleetwood Mac Live that I later duplicated on CD in my quest to own just about every Fleetwood Mac album ever released provided it was the blues band version of the group. The energy in the music from the Tea Party show is ten times that of the Splinter Group. Forty years of ups and downs must make a difference but in Peter Green's case the years have not been kind in the sense that they've brought more depth or emotion to his interpretation of the blues, at least not on the evidence of Splinter Group album. There are oodles of competency and craft and a paucity of heartfelt commitment. In 1970 the playing the blues may have been a vocation. In 1998 it was just a day job.







Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain

George Clinton formed The Parliaments and made pretty standard vocal group soul music until he and his mates, allegedly, took LSD, saw the light and got their freak flags out. The Parliaments became simply Parliament and that mutated into the almost alter ego Funkadelic, originally just the backing band, and Clinton was off and running in the rock influenced Seventies street funk sweepstakes with possibly the most outrageous collective of them all.

Parliament was defined as the horn driven vocal group and Funkadelic was the guitar based funk rock band. The two bands shared personnel and live shows showcased songs from both groups, hence the appellation of Parliafunkadelicment Thang.

In 1978, amidst the post punk New Wave frenzy of the English music scene, Funkadelic had its biggest hit in Britain with "One Nation Under A Groove"' a long, lazy funk tune with a catchy sing-a-long chorus.

The NME was my first and only source of information about the P-funk because this music was not being played on Radio 5 even if it were a disco station at the time, because Funkadelic did not fit into the disco mould despite being at least as outrageous as the Village People.

The records were also not available in Stellenbosch. The American music scene of the time was full of street funk bands, much like rap is the biggest thing today, and many of those, like Brass Construction, Tower of Power, the LTD band, Fat Larry's Band, Earth Wind & Fire, and so on, were available, but Parliafunkadelicment Thang was unknown.

This changed for me on a visit to the Silverstones discount store in the Picbel Parkade in central Cape Town, somewhere between 1979 and the end of 1981 when I found three Funkadelic albums at once: Hard Core Jollies (1976), One Nation Under A Groove (1978) and Uncle Jam (1979).

Hard Core Jollies was on the whole more of a psychedelic guitar rock album than I had been expecting from the NME's articles. The other two were closer to the disco that was so overwhelmingly prevalent at the time although I would guess that it would be typified as simply freaky funk.

Of course I was prepared to like all of it simply because it came endorsed by the NME yet I was not always convinced by the silliness that accompanied the more interesting stuff. Both One Nation Under A Groove and Uncle Jam seemed like albums of mostly jokey filler with a couple of monster dance grooves. One Nation Under A Groove also came with a bonus EP with two funk tracks and a live version of "Maggot Brain", the title track of an album released in 1971. These albums were confusing. Was Funkadelic a rock band or was it a funk band?

The answer, kind of, came in the shape of Funkadelic: The Best Of The Early Years, Volume One, on Westbound Records. This album contained a bunch of funky, tough, soul rock tracks. This was what I wanted to hear! The disco sounding stuff was mostly absent; the rock and roll was very much present. "I Bet You", "Can You Get To That" "Funky Dollar Bill", "No Compute" and "Philmore" were standout tracks that sounded like a collection of hit singles and probably were in some alternative universe and were completely at odds with my perception of Black music from the Seventies, which was all about The Jackson Five, The Temptations ("Papa Was A Rolling Stone"), Stevie Wonder, Billy Paul, Bill Withers and The O'Jays. These acts were all over South African radio. Funkadelic certainly was not.

That was where my Funkadelic acquisitions rested for many years. I did buy a couple of Parliament albums along the way, as well, but no more Funkadelic, and even when I later acquired some CD compilations they tended to be of the greatest hits of Parliament.

In 2005 and from a street vendor in London I bought a DVD of a concert the P-funk collective played at Houston circa 1975, at the time when George Clinton was very much into the Mothership myth and the songs in the set comprise the early greatest hits of both bands, well before "One Nation Under A Groove". It is a great concert, full of the energy and weirdness for which Parliafunkadelicment Thang became famous or notorious.

On just about every visit to the UK since 2005 I've eyed the Funkadelic and Parliament sections of whatever HMV store I visited and yet never bought any of the albums, partly because they were not as cheap as my budget required and partly because there were so many albums I had difficulty making a selection. Ideally I should have started from the debut releases and then worked my way forward but it seemed to be too much of a daunting task and I did not have the patience.

On my 2012 UK holiday I went into a bit of a CD buying frenzy and bought at least double the maximum I'd previously bought, perhaps far too many albums, and one of them was Maggot Brain, the 1971 release, their third on Westbound Records. The CD release is the original album plus three bonus tracks. The previously known tracks were "Maggot Brain", "Super Stupid" and "Can You Get To That."

Some of this album is highly reminiscent of the solid groove funk the Isley Brothers produced on albums like The Brothers: Isley (1969) and Get Into Something (1970) where the Isleys married vocal trio harmonies, stoned soul and funk to produce a heavier sound than the old-fashioned Stax type of deep soul of, say, Otis Redding. The Isleys were still traditional enough, though, and kind of country going by some of the lyrics. George Clinton must have been paying attention to the sound and the attitude but with his much more lysergic insight into what makes a good song a truly terrific one gave us a whole new thing.

The interesting, and great, proposition of a Funkadelic album is that the music is quite varied in style, and not just hard funk.

"Maggot Brain" is a Hendrix-inspired and influenced lead guitar storm with a typically Clinton spoken word intro that sounds mythic yet is actually just a stone joke. Eddie Hazell plays the shit out of his Strat and his inspiration seems to be Electric Ladyland and Cry Of Love, rather than the early psychedelic rock Hendrix style.

"Can You Get To That" is a funky pop rumination on relationships. This tune shoulda been a hit, a palpable hit, on all kinds of commercial radio stations. Basso profundo counterpoint to chick singers gives us that old-time soul appeal with a song that makes a serious point wittily.

"Hit It And Quit it" has a keyboard led heavy rock base with shouty, somewhat unintelligible vocals and a greasy, great wah wah guitar solo.

Sly & The Family Stone supply the roots for "You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks" with bottom heavy, solid, grinding bass, jazzy piano and call and response vocal exchanges between the guys and gals. Sounds like a call for toleration and peace between humans.

The Jon Lord-style keyboards, heavy riffing and Hendrixoid screaming guitar solo turn "Super Stupid" into an anthemic hard rock classic.

With "Back In Our Minds" the band reverts to the stoned, loping funk reveries that characterised the P-funk for so long and differentiated it from its more staid competitors. A lazy trombone solo allows the track to take off into the realm of late Seventies reggae session guy, Rico.

The 9 minutes plus intense, rhythmic workout on "Wars of Armageddon" sounds a lot like the kind of hard funk jams on Miles Davis' On The Corner and I can imagine Davis must have taken a long, hard musical look at the new street funk styles epitomised by Funkadelic for his new direction.

These tracks were on the original vinyl release. The bonus tracks on the CD re-issue are interesting but not particularly vital except for those, like me, who truly want to hear as much P-funk as possible, in all its variations. Maggot Brain may not be a work of genius but it sure is a work of strangeness combined with groovy funk, heavy rock and a seriously skewed take on the USA of its time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Albert King

I developed an affinity for the blues, and guitar style, of Albert King long before I started appreciating the blues of B B King, principally because my introduction to B B was an album of big band urban R & B, emphasising jazzy horn arrangements over incisive guitar solos, while my first Albert King album was Years Gone By (1969) on the Stax label, where Albert was backed by Booker T & MGs, the Stax house band, who gave Albert that patented Stax soul groove to work with while playing stinging, sharp lead guitar in stark contrast to B B King's churchy emoting and almost pretty playing. Of course, years later, I realised that B B King could play as tough a blues lead as Albert could but Albert King is still my first love amongst the Kings.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was much influenced by Albert and one can hear it in his playing though Stevie was prone to indulging in much lengthier solos than Albert ever did, and was more fluent with it. Albert was the master of the short, sharp flurry of intense notes.

In one of the first explanations of the Albert King guitar style I ever read, the writer pointed out that Albert is not as technically able and fluent as, for example, B B King, but that he has learnt how to make the most of his vocabulary and is a genius at playing three notes in so many different ways that it never becomes boring. That he plays left handed on a conventionally strung guitar apparently also makes a huge difference in the sound he is able to pull from his instrument.

My initial interest in blues was sparked by the music of John Lee Hooker, particularly the furious primitivism of "Boogie Chillen" and then by the Chicago style of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. It took me a while to get into the lead guitar oriented stuff by the Kings, Buddy Guy and others because a lot of that seemed a tad one dimensional. I preferred the ensemble interplay of the Muddy Waters band.

I bought Years Gone By at the cosmically aptly named Stax discount store in Cape Town somewhere in the late Seventies when I was starting to build up a collection of blues records from the various discount bins at record stores around Cape Town. Stax was not a record store; it simply had a basket full of cheap albums.

I had read about Albert King yet had no idea what he sounded like. The unique selling proposition was that the record cost 99c.

On the album cover King stands on the stage of what probably was the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, in front of a psychedelic light show, dressed in a smart-casual sports jacket, holding his Gibson Flying Vee guitar, looking like some weird, large professor of the blues.

Anyhow, the album cover seemed to be a marketing ploy to bring home to the various audiences who might be buying the album that Albert was hip to the psychedelic vibe yet still knew where his roots were. Curiously, too, Albert King smoked a pipe on stage. Not many bluesmen did that. You'd think he should also have been wearing slippers and a comfy cardigan.

The music on the record was pretty straightforward Stax soul with Albert King's piercing blues licks and fervent vocals on top. "Lonely Man" had an insistently catchy riff (that is, coincidentally, also the riff to "I Take What I Want" on Sam & Dave's debut album), and "Cockroach" was perhaps the most interesting, "real life" blues lyric I'd heard particularly given that the album was recorded in 1969 when one would have expected even blues guys to have had a more modern take on the trials and tribulations of the man kicked out of his woman's bed. "The Sky Is Crying" is a straightforward blues trope, written by Elmore James, recorded by many.

"Drownin' On Dry Land" is a great double whammy: it comes in two parts. The first part is the vocal blues, with the great punch line of the narration about a dog on a railway line who "lost his whole head looking for little piece of tail." This double entendre was pretty amazing and very funny. The second part is an instrumental.

I love this album. It is deep blues and deep soul at the same time. A terrific combination.

A couple of years later I bought Live Wire / Blues Power (1968), a selection of tracks from a concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco in June of 1968. This was a pretty good collection though not as powerful as Years Gone By. For the most part the performances seemed a tad lacking in the fire of the studio set. It might be due to the fact that the MGs are not the backing band. The best number was "Blues Power" where Albert carefully explains to the White kids what the blues are before tearing loose on a vicious solo that still gives me the same visceral thrill each time I hear it.

Somewhere in the Eighties I came across a cassette version of the 1974 Stax album, The Pinch, with a pointlessly updated version of "Oh, Pretty Woman" and King's version of the soul classic "I Can't Stand the Rain." The title track was one part double entendre vocal version and one part instrumental. I guess the genre can be called relaxed, funk-inflected blues but it was not very engaging because of its easy listening appeal. King was trying to modernise his sound and looking to record tunes that had more in common with the big R & B ballads of the day than with downhome blues. This state of affairs was not at all satisfactory to the blues freak in me. Little Milton, and for that matter, B B King or Z Z Hill, did it so much better. I wanted my Albert King with some bite and not with the smooth affectations of a Grover Washington Jnr.

Some years later I bought the CD of Wednesday Night in San Francisco, which comprises of performances from the same series of shows as Live Wire / Blues Power, and also a greatest hits set on a budget label that specialised in blues compilations. This collection showcased tracks from the early Fifties, when Albert's style and musical backing was not a million miles different to what B B King was doing at the time, to the full flowering with the Stax label and the better known King songs.

My latest acquisition, and first successful download from the iTunes store, is King of The Blues Guitar, a compilation album released by Atlantic Records in 1969 that combines the tracks from King's debut album on Stax Records, Born Under a Bad Sign, with six tunes previously released as Stax singles.

Several of the tracks on King of the Blues Guitar were covered by any number of White blues bands of the era. Cream did "Born Under A Bad Sign" and Led Zeppelin incorporated elements of "The Hunter" into "How Many More Times" (from their debut album) and many years later, deep into his blues move, Gary Moore recorded "Oh, Pretty Woman."

"I Almost Lost My Mind" (written by Ivory Joe Hunter) and "The Very Thought Of You" (the signature composition of Ray Noble, an English band leader and not really a bluesman) find Albert in crooning style, with tinkling jazz piano, saxophone solos and flute, as if he were adumbrating the Tony Bennett blues album of the early years of the 21st century. King sings sweetly and affectively yet it is an anomaly in the company of the other, more gut-wrenching blues. Even the guitar solos are a tad cloying. Late night, supper club blues. I guess Albert King was venturing into B B King territory, seeking pop hits with a blues inflection.

"Born Under A Bad Sign", "Personal Manager", "Cross Cut Saw" and "Laundromat Blues" are the real deal, the best of King's time at Stax. The rhythm section is taut and tight, the horns incisive and the lyrics present an up to date twist on the age old concerns of the blues.

"Overall Junction" and "Funk-Shun" are instrumentals with punchy horns and stabbing lead guitar licks, and one can see them as set openers for the mood setting effect they would have on an eager audience anticipating a great show of fierce guitar blues.

These instrumentals seem to be little more than excuses for extended solos and do not have the instantly memorable riffs or hooks of, for example, Freddie King's "Hideaway" or "San-Ho-Zay" that were probably written as ear catching dance floor fillers. In Albert's case his instrumentals may have been simply album fillers.

Since I bought Years Gone By I've also became familiar with the work of various other blues guitarists, like T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Jimmy Dawkins and, of course, Jimi Hendrix, and the White guys who followed them, like Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mike Bloomfield, Jimmy Page, Duke Robillard, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bob Margolin, and beyond. Whereas there are very few blues bands that emulate the great Muddy Waters or Howlin Wolf bands of the Fifties and Sixties, there are a great many lead guitarists out there playing variations on the blues themes established by their predecessors. Most of them are basically journeymen who are adept at the craft of playing the blues without much brilliance or innovation. Albert King obviously also worked hard at learning his craft but he had that spark of individuality that set him apart from the pack (for all his vaunted, or real, rivalry with B B King, down to having guitars with similar names) and still makes him a unique instrumental voice in the blues genre.

Albert King was physically big, had a big personality and a matching big sound. He never became the ambassador of the blues that B B King has become, partly simply because he has outlived so many of his peers and partly because, like Louis Armstrong, B B King craves the validation for a genuinely outstanding career.

Albert King just got on with it and then found himself in the right place at the right time with the right sound to reap maximum benefit from the interest a young, affluent White audience started showing in blues and so he ended up bestriding the Fillmore stage in his houndstooth tweed jacket, smoking a pipe, in front of a psychedelic light show and bringing his blues power to a roomful of stoned hippies.