LP Label: Soul Jazz Records SJR LP93
As I sat conversing with the owner of my local hi-fi hut, a customer walked into the store and immediately commented on the music playing in the background.
"What is this that you are listening to?"
"It's a compilation of blues, funk, and soul produced by Chess Records," the owner replied.
"Well, it sounds absolutely awful. It is so gritty."
"Isn't that what real music sounds like?" replied the increasingly annoyed owner.
The customer shrugged his shoulders and walked out of the store.
Real music does sound gritty and this two record set of twenty tracks recorded by Chess in the 1960s is worth every penny of the thirty-eight dollars that I paid for it. Not only is the collection a solid mix of Chess's big guns like Howlin' Wolf, Etta James, and Muddy Waters, but a strong sampling of the gospel, funk, and jazz musicians that made Chess Records such a unique label. The compilation is also a testament to the people behind the scenes at Chess that recognized talent when they heard it and were not afraid to create a unique sound. Created by two Jewish immigrants (Leonard and Phil Czyz) who moved to Chicago in 1928, Chess would grow into one of the most influential music labels in America, releasing more than 50 albums a year at its height.
Chicago Soul was apparently pressed in very limited numbers, so finding one may require an extra degree of effort. It is gritty, dirty, unclean, and exactly how I like it.