Born Samuel Maghett, in 1937, Magic Sam would only release two full albums before his untimely death from heart attack in 1969, but what albums they were. In the late 1950s Magic Sam, living and playing on the west side of Chicago, began perfecting a distinctive style of electric blues that seemed to be the beginning of a fruitful career. However, after his label, Cobra, folded he enlisted in the army, eventually landing in prison on charges of desertion. After this false start he was handed a deal with Delmark Records where he recorded both full lengths.
Released in 1967 album number one, West Side Soul, still sounds fresh and relevant after 40 something years due in no small part to the record laying out the blueprint for pretty much every blues band since. It’s a perfectly unhinged collection that sounds as if it was recorded in a single take after the band split a bottle of whiskey, there’s a locked in the moment vibrancy to the songs that can only exist with musicians totally on top of their game. Combine that with Magic Sam’s urgent, soulful singing and the result should rightly have been the stepping stone to prominence and success it sounds like.
I Feel So Good (I Wanna Boogie)
I Don’t Want No Woman
Sweet Home, Chicago
Unfortunately just two years later, Sam died whilst on the cusp of stardom, tragically cutting short a life and career seemingly destined for greatness. Second album, Black Magic is also highly recommended to all fans of the blues and music in general.
Note: West Side Soul was re-pressed on vinyl in 2009. Consider yourself encouraged to track it down on the preferred format.