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Latest Release
Chicago Blues:
A Living History
The (R)evolution Continues (2011)

Chicago Blues:
A Living History

Billy Boy Arnold
John Primer
Billy Branch
Lurrie Bell
Become a Timeline Contributor Our Blog On the Record You Interview the Artists
The Critics Speak
"...21 tracks of gorgeous blues. Will undoubtably challenge for blues recording honors this year. A tremendous project that ought to be a finalist in a few awards categories. Chicago Blues: A Living History is just a joy to listen to (and to look at), and it is without a doubt a recording that you will return to -- even if you have all the originals... Sonically superb and carefully conceived".

—Living Blues Magazine
"...There are many blues bands who lovingly recreates Chicago blues staples, none, however comes close to this superb collection. By assembling a band thoroughly steeped in the city’s blues traditions and by featuring four leaders, Primer, Arnold, Bell, and Branch, who come with the essential DNA to be cloned as the masters, this becomes a living history which breathes new life into the blues we love. If you can only buy one blues record in 2009, make it this one."

—Art Tipaldi
"This excellent double-CD finds a collection of first-rate contemporary Chicago players, some with roots going back to artists active in the peak years of the ’50s and ’60s, laying down a veritable history of Windy City blues and covering everyone from Sonny Boy Williamson to Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Jimmy Reed, Buddy Guy…it’s a helluva list. Why not just put out an anthology of the original artists playing these tunes? Because this approach shows the vitality of the music today, and how new interpretations by different players steeped in the styles of their forerunners can bring out previously unheard dimensions of the Chicago blues sound..everything here is cool, at the same time it’s undeniably hot."

—Mix Magazine
"...Vibrant and satisfying!"

—Downbeat Magazine
"One day, a day was going to come when someone produced a serious tribute to the evolution of the Chicago Blues sound. That day has come.
A superb tribute that makes up for the absence, the lack of a real homage to the Chicago Blues, to its practitioners of the past and present as well as its place in the history of American music of the 20th century. A great production."

—Paris Move
“…The opposite of a compilation, this living history of the Chicago blues from 1940 is an ambitious undertaking that could prove to be an important reference for the genre… An astonishing success that bets on the future of this music…A meeting of the masters.”

—Jazz Magazine
4**** - The first two generations of electric Chicago blues are either dead or on the endangered list, but this double-disc set proves the style still has teeth and claws. Especially when John Primer revs his guitar like a turbine to pay tribute to Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, and fellow six-stringer Lurrie Bell howls out Otis Rush's "My Love Will Never Die" as if he were fighting for the genre's life....These performances aren't just retro; they're real."

—Boston Phoenix
"The release of this double Cd is an enormous blues event. If a blues fan wants to teach a novice about the Chicago blues they should begin class with this CD."

—Blues Magazine
"What makes this collection special is the fact that not only is this an amazing collection of music performed by an incredible group of musicians, it also brings the music alive in a way that listening to old recordings of these performers doing their songs doesn't...
Anybody who thinks that the blues are a music of the past needs to think again and give this collection a listen. It doesn't matter when any of the material on Chicago Blues A Living History was written, because the music is certainly alive and kicking. If more collections were made along the lines of this one, I don't think you'd ever hear anyone ever wondering about the health of the blues again. Chicago has always been home to some of the most exciting blues music around, and this disc only confirms how exciting and important that music is. Even better is the fact that it reaffirms the blues don't belong in a museum, and are every bit as vital as they ever were."

"History lesson or all-star blues session? Chicago Blues: A LIVING HISTORY wants it both ways - and gets it. By assembling a great multi-generational band that nearly spans the history of the genre, producer Larry Skoller insures both fidelity to the historic players and songs celebrated here and a lack of slavishness in the performances. The concise notes on each musician represented, ranging from the original Sonny Boy Williamson to Buddy Guy, serve as both pocket history and buyer’s guide for newcomers. But those steeped in the blues will find that these masterful performances speak eloquently for themselves with no need of further elaboration."

—Boston Herald
" impeccable selection of Chicago-centric blues tunes. If the front men and the outstanding support personnel team up on a live version, it'll be wise to get those tickets early".

—Chicago Sun-Times
"...essential for both newbies to the blues and grizzled veterans who think they've heard it all, this collection fully lives up to its title, and comes highly recommended."

—All Music Guide
"An engaging, updated introduction to the world of Chicago blues... Captures the musical spirit of the city and traces its development through the past 50 years. This album celebrates the past by breathing new life into it. "

"The first of its Kind...Original. Possesses a warmth similar to the Chess label productions. These are not retro-sounding versions of the originals, they are wonderfully vibrant."

"The ambitious and original idea of this CD needs to be applauded because it wasn't a simple task or an easy bet. But hearing the first very notes, this CD grabs you. Absolutely recommended to (re)discover the Chicago Blues of yesterday and today."

—ABS Magazine
"Chicago Blues: A Living History is an extraordinary offering that is an extremely timely and important recording project. It is a wonderful two-CD opus that is a brilliant tribute to authors of “Chicago Blues” lyrics and music. It rescues the perception of blues and these contemporary artists of distinction from anonymity. Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell receives a much deserved affirmation and celebration. They come across as worthy descendants of “Chicago Blues” masters before them. They are major voices of the idiom. The Living History Band is in the tradition of great “Chicago Blues” bands of Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, James Cotton, Junior Wells, and Magic Slim. It is one of achievement and distinction."

—Sterling Plump
Chicago Blues historian,
Emeritus Professor of African-American Studies and English
at University of Illinois Chicago
"Jam-packed, exquisite package of a retrospective of the Windy City’s rich blues history and tradition when placed in the hands of its deepest contemporary translators...If this album doesn’t get nominated for some kind of award or get some special recognition and if everyone out there is JJS land doesn’t buy this album, well there’s something wrong. I was completely blown away. This is a one of a kind tribute album that delivers both the emotional punch and fervor of the originals. Chicago blues is living and continues to in the hands of the greats such as these."

—Juke Joint Soul
"A must-have for lovers of Chicago blues - lovers of blues in general for that matter. It doesn't come any better than this."

—Boston Blues Society
"A veritable Chicago Blues Festival in your own home...What can I say except essential! Rating 10".

—Blues in Britain
"This double set tells the history of the Chicago blues through the talents of first rate real bluesmen who not only know their stuff but have walked the true paths of blues life. Each song, well chosen among historical important blues, is not interpreted – as it is too much often the case nowadays – but played with each musician's own words and styles. Lurrie Bell, John Primer and Billy Branch have long paid their dues to play the blues and singer-harpist Billy Boy Arnold is one of the true creator of the post-war Chicago blues. Undoubtedly, this is the real deal."

—Gérard Herzhaft
Author of La Grande Encyclopédie du Blues (Fayard)/
Encyclopedia of the blues (Arkansas Press)
"This CD presents the evolution of the Chicago blues as a living history that people continue to perform. That is part of keeping the blues alive, and this 'historic' CD set is very much alive." (San Luis Obispo Blues News)

—San Luis Obispo Blues News
"...Chicago Blues: A Living History blends the present and the past in a unique fashion. Folks new to the music can take a trip back in time, guided by a legendary group of musicians who are keeping the tradition alive."

—Illinois Entertainer
"This CD is a delightful musical voyage through the evolving Chicago sound from 40’s up to the present...The songs are good and musicians are outstanding. This is a treat musically and a must have for any blues fan, even those pups that are just starting out on the journey and the blues hasn’t got hold of them completely. Buy the CD!"

—St. Louis Blues Society
"First-class blues musicians. They're not just knocking off covers of some good music -- they're blasting out great old blues in the spirit in which they were created."

—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Buy this two-disc set not because it is an essential link between past legends and present practitioners of Chicago Blues as the folks at Raisin Music would like you to believe, but because it passes a simpler litmus test : the songs will make you want to sing or dance or nod your head or howl at the moon (or maybe all of those at once)."

—Blues Review Magazine
History can be dry and dusty, mere examination of things past. Or it can be vibrant, full of life, a celebration of that which continues to connect us despite technology and trends. Studied carefully, this collection yields some profound insights into the growth of one of the world’s most significant musical forms. But again, the blues are about feel, not scholarship, and rarely are lessons as lively and exciting as this. Highly recommended – on every level!

—BC Music
"There hasn’t been a Chicago blues collection this cool since Alligator did a documentary series over 20 years ago.... a fine collection that gives the classics their due and brings them forward so they won’t be forgotten or disregarded. It’s a fine way to get you into the history of the blues without feeling like you are going to school."

—Midwest Record
"Outstanding...A glorious Blues collection. As long as blues progenies like Lurrie Bell, Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer and Billy Branch continue to carry the blues spirit, Chicago's rich musical legacy will continue on in timeless fashion for generations to come."

"This is a must-own 2-disc set for any fan of Chicago blues. "

—Maine Blues Society
"First Rate. Their performances escort the genre into the future."

—Chicago Blues Guide
"Audacious....Fans of the traditional electric blues, especially of the Windy City variety will find a lot to like on this collection as it features some of the city's top musical talent coming together to keep the music alive and moving forward."

—Jazz and Blues Blogspot
"This CD is a must have...Get It!"

"The overall scope of this project would have been too large for some, but not for producer Larry Skoller, whose love for this music and it performers is obvious. I'm not sure how many copies of this set were made, but if you're reading this you better get one."

"Chicago Blues - A Living History" is just that, and it's a must have for lovers of Chicago blues, lovers of blues in general for that matter. It doesn't come any better than this."

"One day someone had to have the idea to produce a tribute to the Chicago Blues that it deserves, and history will show that without a doubt it was Larry Skoller who was one of them to not only think about it, but to do it and do it right."

..."Nothing else to say except, thank you." - (5 Stars - Highest Rating)

—Soul Bag Magazine

—Blues Again! Magazine
"A rare and historic tribute to the Chicago Blues."

—Télé Magazine
"This double-CD is quite simply and without doubt a "must-have". The idea to pay tribute to the history of Chicago Blues from 1940 to the present with these artists is a total success. Indispensable!"

—Sur La Route De Memphis
"A magnificent double-CD. This group has no faults"

—L'Express Magazine
"This magnificent and unprecedented CD pays a vibrant tribute to the architects and innovators of the Chicago Blues Sound!"

"Beautifully Orchestrated and flawlessly performed...a delightful tribute to the music and should be added to the collections of everyone who considers himself (or herself) a lover of Chicago Blues."

—Billtown Blues
"...Chicago Blues: A Living History is as close to the glory zone as we’re going to get these days, when so many of the style’s creators have gone on to higher ground. Luckily for us, that’s close enough."

"...It's required listening for Blues 101, and a complete urban blues primer for blues fans new and old."

—Quad-Cities Dispatch
"...A perfect production. Highly recommended."

—Trad Magazine
"...An excellent selection."

—Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
"We cannot go back to 1940 and re-create the recording of “My Little Machine” but when you pop disc one in your player and hear Billy Boy Arnold and Johnny Iguana at the piano, you’ll realize this may be the next best thing...all the songs sound amazingly fresh."

—Toronto Blues Society
"This is one fantastic collection that any fan of Chicago Blues will love. "

—Suncoast Blues Society
"Triumphant...Astonishing. Their time travel not only reveals such evolutionary trends as harp methodologies, the extended solo, and the transition of power from piano to guitar. It is genuine Living History."

—Baltimore BluesRag
"This isn't an anthology, but rather a loving tribute performed by a group of artists with careers and associations that stretch from the beginning of the Chicago blues era to the modern day. Chicago Blues: A Living History is a perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with the music and its history, and will be a welcome new friend for long-time fans of the style."

"...A terrific idea that plays out beautifully!"

—Chico News and Review
"...Timely and much needed... Should be in any blues fan's collection."

—Sing Out! Magazine
"Chicago Blues: A Living History shows how it is supposed to be done. This is deep blues indeed...a lock for this year’s list of best blues releases."

"A complete Success."

—Blues Matters Magazine