A striking tremolo-driven guitarist with a more than competent vocal presence, Mississippi-born Magic Sam hit Chicago in 1950, but instead of falling in with the predominate Chicago blues style of the era, he veered more to the R&B side of things and became a major player in Chicago's so-called West Side Sound. His debut release for Cobra Records, 1957's "All Your Love," was a template Sam would return to again and again throughout his all too brief career. Built on stinging, echoing guitar lines and featuring a vocal style that took as much from Sam Cooke as it did from the Delta, "All Your Love" was an immediate local hit. Another distinctive track from Sam's stay with Cobra is the kinetic and bustling rockabilly blues gem called "21 Days in Jail." After a sojourn at Chess Records, Sam signed with Chief Records in 1960, waxing, among other sides, a marvelous cover of Fats Domino's "Every Night About This Time." He cut a couple of singles with Crash Records in 1966 before signing with Delmark Records, which released Sam's brilliant West Side Soul LP in 1967, followed by the almost as remarkable Black Magic in 1968. Superstardom seemed inevitable for the soulful guitarist and singer, but a heart attack in 1969 took his life. Magic Sam was only 32 when he died. His Delmark material should be the first stop for anyone looking to explore Sam's musical legacy, but his earlier work for the Cobra, Chief and Crash imprints is exciting in its own right. This collection has virtually everything Sam did for these three labels, including a handful of alternate takes.
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