Junior Wells & The Aces

Junior Wells & The Aces
Live in Boston - 1966

Delmark - B003UOM5OC

By Georgetown Fats
November 2010

One of my few regrets in life is never having seen the late, great Junior Wells perform live. While clips on Youtube and live recordings have simulated the experience, there has always been something missing - until now.

Following Delmark’s critically acclaimed Junior Wells release “Live at Theresa’s-1975,” Delmark released “Live in Boston – 1966,” a set captured at an unnamed club in Boston. Backed by The Aces (Louis Myers on guitar, Dave Myers on bass and Fred Below on drums), rather than a “Best Of” live package “Live in Boston - 1966” appears to have been culled from a few well placed condenser microphones during one live set. In fact, my only complaint is that the disk is just an hour in length.

Where “Live at Theresa’s” is the musical equivalent of Junior Wells performing a raucous and cocksure set in front of his home town, “Live in Boston-1966” reflects a musician who just oozes cool while fronting a band of his own design.

From his opening rap on “Feelin’ Good,” it’s clear that Junior Wells with The Aces showcases Junior at his best (though he had the skills to front any band he could assemble). The trio’s jazz background allowed Wells to stretch and vamp all the musical thoughts that came into his head without seeming out of place.

While the vocals on “Man Downstairs” may be a little distant in the mix and somewhat distorted, it only reflects the charm of a live recording. This is another song where The Aces truly shine. “Man Downstairs” may be a derivative of many blues standards; however, with The Aces swinging the groove, there is enough deviation to legitimately consider it an original.

A wonderful aspect of these live Junior Wells recordings is the in-between banter. Every few songs Junior takes some time to banter with the audience and this helps the illusion that this recording was in fact lifted from a one-night live performance.

Though the disk is loaded with highlights, one of the few attributed songs to Junior Wells “If You Gonna Leave Me” is the best of the best. Dave Myers on bass and Fred Below on drums produce a ridiculously large groove which is complemented by Louis Myers’ restrained jazz inspired work on the guitar, allowing Wells to vamp and howl over this monstrous groove. This track illustrates why Junior Wells claimed The Aces were the best musicians he had ever played with and why Little Walter subsequently hired the entire band when Junior went to play with Muddy Waters. The trio is just so ridiculously tight, it is hard not to consider them one person when they all play together.

While Junior Wells has many seminal recordings, I can’t help but applaud the Delmark label for delving into this back catalog of live historical recordings. Though there is a very high chance the person responsible for the recordings did not realize the gold they had on old acetate. I hope the families of those responsible will receive retroactive bonuses for these fantastic recordings.

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