Blind Owl Blues – The Mysterious Life and Death of Alan Wilson by Rebecca Davis – A review


alanwilson

Blind Owl Blues ~ a review

Just finished reading this. If you’ve ever wondered who that quiet guy in Canned Heat was, the one standing at the back looking sheepish, playing a blinding bit of bottleneck, or singing that high falsetto vocal on ‘On The Road Again’, then read this book.

An illuminating entre into the late 60s psychedelic band scene on the West Coast and for those uninitiated into Blues music past and present.

The book suffers from the ‘relatively’ recent rash of online self publishing; it desperately needs an editor’s hand and a true story-teller at the helm, but we get the information we came for and it’s that which counts. Wilson, underrated and overlooked has his story told and we are assured throughout that the facts as they are presented are well researched and balanced.

You’ll be introduced to some of the characters in the story, Bob Hite the frontman and singer, Henry Vestine the talented but drug addled lead guitarist and Larry Taylor the driving and truly talented bass player.

Wilson and his compatriots were there right at the birth of the Blues revival and he and some of his friends rediscovered a number of the artists who would go on to lead that revival, at the same time as giving honour to the past, they blew the cobwebs off of their old  78s, re-worked the old tunes and re-dedicated their blues to the power of amplification.

Wilson wrote both of their biggest hits, ‘On the road again’ and ‘Going up the country’, they played the Monterey and Woodstock festivals and their output soundtracks the 60s as well as anything by anyone else. Many Blues revivalists consider Wilson to be THE under-rated figure of that age and the book tries to re-balance history, place him centrally as an important figure and to chart his compulsive obsessive love of Blues music as it transformed into and equally obsessive love of nature, particularly Sequoia trees. Intrigued?

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