Popular Harmonica Recordings after 1962 – a personal choice

An earlier programme on this site, Cyril Davies – From Trad Jazz to the Rolling Stones, described the start of the UK blues boom in 1962. This is a celebration of the popular harmonica recordings which followed in Europe and America with examples drawn from R&B, Rock, Popular Music, Film Music, Rap and Beatboxing. We had to leave out many great recordings. Maybe we need to select Vol 2.

It includes three tracks from the UK R&B scene by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Manfred Mann. A couple of on rack-harp from Bob Dylan and Neil Young. The Doors track features a guest appearance by John Sebastian. Canned Heat was founded by blues historians and record collectors, Al “Blind Owl” Wilson and Bob “The Bear” Hite – Al played the harp. Mr Bloe was originally a Bubblegum B-side from New Your but a group of UK session musicians recorded this 1970 hit. Magic Dick soloed on Whammer Jammer. Stone Fox Chase is the theme for the BBC TV programme, Old Grey Whistle Test and it became a ‘right of passage’ for UK harp players. Stevie Wonder has a style of his own. It took a long time to find the right harmonica break for Runaway. Norton Buffalo eventually developed this version using four harmonicas to cover the chord changes. John Popper shows off his technique and musicality on But any Way. Ray Jackson is the harp player with Lindisfarne. Motorhead lead singer, Lemmy put together this acoustic version of Ace of Spades, which was featured in a TV advert. The Leo Diamond and Larry Adler’s recordings of film themes are from the 1950s, but they add a little more chromatic into the collection. Toots plays like only Toots can. US Rapper, Pitbull, uses a Lee Oskar riff from San Francisco Bay, played by Paul Harrington, in the Country tinged Timber. Son of Dave’s San Francisco was used as the theme for the BBC Radio series Tales of the City.

Track listing

1 – The Beatles – Love, Love Me Do – 00:17
2 – The Rolling Stones – Not Fade Away – 02:34
3 – Manfred Mann – 54321 – 04:21
4 – Bob Dylan – A Man of Constant Sorrow – 06:29
5 – Steve Stills Band and Neil Young – Long May You Run – 09:29
6 – The Doors – Roadhouse Blues – 13:31
7 – Canned Heat – On the Road Again – 17:37
8 – Harry Pitch – Groovin’ With Mr Bloe – 22:41
9 – J Geils Band – Whammer Jammer – 25:16
10 – Area Code 615 – Stone Fox Chase – 27:55
11 – Stevie Wonder – For Once in My Life – 31:29
12 – Bonnie Raitt – Runaway – 34:16
13 – John Popper – But Any Way – 38:18
14 – Lindisfarne – Meet me on the corner – 41:35
15 – Motorhead (Lemmy) – Ace of Spades – 44:11
16 – Leo Diamond – Sadie Thompson’s Song – 47:47
17 – Larry Adler – Le Rififi – 50:33
18 – Toots Thielemans Quartet – Theme from Midnight Cowboy – 53:50
19 – Pitbull – Timber – 58:34
20 – Son of Dave – San Francisco – 62:01