John Primer: Moanin' at Midnight


Moanin' at Midnight


John Primer (vocals, guitar)


Chicago Blues: A Living History (Raisin' Music 1003)

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John Primer (vocals, guitar),

Matthew Skoller (harmonica), Billy Flynn (guitar), Felton Crews (bass), Kenny Smith (drums)


Composed by Chester Burnett


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

This song was such a big hit for Howlin' Wolf back in 1951 that he even recorded his own knock-off version (the oxymoronically-entitled "Morning at Midnight") a short while later. The Wolf, it seems, was signed to two record companies, and both wanted this particular number. Now John Primer contributes his own version to the tribute double-CD Chicago Blues: A Living History. But Primer is no mere imitator, rather a master of Chicago blues in his own right who puts his personal stamp on a song that is not easy to cover. Primer learned his craft under the mentoring of Muddy Waters, and here he shows off his big, deep vocals over a throbbing vamp that just gets gnarlier and gnarlier as the track progresses. This is blues of raw power, with no room for tasty fills and banter, and a good reminder why a whole generation to rockers looked to Chicago blues for their inspiration. This is a fine tribute, indeed but even better, it reminds us that the real Chicago sound is still with us, and not just on the old records.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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