Snooky Pryor

Real Fine Boogie: The J.O.B. Records Masters Collection

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One of the great men of Chicago blues, Snooky Pryor was one of the first players to explore the possibilities of the blues harp through amplification (Pryor insisted he was the first, and he may well have been right), and after making his recording debut in 1947, Pryor recorded his raw, passionate music steadily for a variety of small labels into the early '60s, when he dropped out of music for a spell before he was rediscovered in the early '70s. Real Fine Boogie: The J.O.B. Records Masters Collection collects material Pryor cut in the '40s and '50s, primarily for Chicago's J.O.B. Records label, though some material waxed for Planet and Swingtime Records pops up here as well. Most of these tracks find Pryor teamed with guitarist Moody Jones, and they were a good team, with Jones providing a solid framework for Pryor's simple but powerfully expressive harp workouts, though the group's sometimes eccentric approach in the studio is a big part of what makes these sides fascinating. The balance of the instruments on some of these sides (like "Telephone Blues") pushes the harmonica way up front with the guitar faint in the distance, while some later tracks are bracingly lo-fi (for example, "Uncle Sam Don't Take My Man") as various elements bob in and out of the mix. But the unusual sound of the records only adds to the power of Pryor's performances, and sets this music apart from the run-of-the-mill Chicago blues acts of the era, and folks who dig hot harmonica work and don't mind hearing it in an unusual context will certainly want to give these rare sides a listen.

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