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New Left Review I/27, September-October 1964


Alan Beckett

John Lee Hooker

Modern blues singing has not, until recently, received the attention it deserves. The few records which have been released in this country have had a mixed reception. Although improved technique and a constructive command of increased instrumental resources have often enriched their music, modern blues singers are still accused of debasing their art by avoiding ‘serious’ issues and of being preoccupied with sexual themes. In this context it is worth recalling the observations of Muddy Waters during his first visit to Britain (Jazz Journal, February 1959): ‘People should hear the pure blues—Alan Beckettthe blues we used to have when we had no money. I’m talking about when you couldn’t even buy moonshine, a hot dog even, when you were making thirty-five cents a day. But how can I have that kind of blues with this in my pocket?’

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