Blues Bytes


July 2017

Big Golden Wheeler
Turn My Life Around
Wolf Records

Big Golden Wheeler

Big Golden Wheeler released two albums, both on Delmark, in his lifetime before passing away in 1998. This posthumous release, Turn My Life Around (Wolf) is a real find. As a cab driver in Chicago, Wheeler was first inspired to play harp by Buster Brown and later got some rudiments from Junior Wells, but was largely a self-taught harp player. He taught himself well, as evidenced by this remarkable disc.

With Jimmy Johnson on guitar, bass and keys (as well as producing the sessions), John Primer or Luther Adams on guitars, Willie Kent on bass and Timothy Taylor on drums, it's classic Chicago blues top to bottom from a crew of masters. Recorded in 1993 it captures the essence of Wheeler’s “golden” voice and harp.

The 11 songs are split between originals and songs from Little Walter (“I Got To Go”), Jimmy Reed (“The Sun Is Shining”), Earl Hooker (“Blue Guitar” an instrumental from Johnson), Sonny Boy Williamson (“Crazy ‘Bout You Baby”) and Roy Brown (“Hard Luck Blues). The originals stand as strong as the covers.

 The opener, “The Sun Is Shining,” sets the pace. His harp is expressive and vocals persuasive. This is the case throughout. His harp is dead-on on the Sonny Boy tune and full of fat chords on the Roy Brown piece. Great piece of history.

--- Mark E. Gallo



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