Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

hip chainlinkHip Linkchain was a first rate Chicago blues figure who was active in the 50’s through the early 80’s. He had several releases, but his most noticeable ones (both available from Amazon) are “Change My Blues” and “Airbusters.” Both are exceptional works and are good representations of Chicago club blues in that era. Linkchain was influenced by Magic Sam (who he covered) and Muddy Waters. His vocal style is not as smooth or well defined as Sam’s or Waters’; it is rougher, somewhat like Magic Slim’s. But, Linkchain most definitely had his own thing going on. What I like about his songs is they are a bit on the funky side. Check out the funky bass lines on the tunes “I had a dream” and I’m on my way,” on Airbusters. I also really dig the lyrics to “I had a dream” – “ I had a dream I was a millionaire, ‘woke up, I didn’t have a dime,” etc. or “I had a dream I owned a Cadillac, ‘woke up, I didn’t even own a Ford” (I know these days we don’t buy American any more – but that is somebody else’s blues).

Airbusters was originally released on the Dutch Black Magic label and later was and re-released on Evidence. Like all the great blues guitarists, Linkchain’s lead work was short and sweet. He didn’t mince licks; he got in and got out – exactly like blues was meant to be played. You will find elements of Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Dawkins and others in his lead work. I like how he incorporates a few of Sam’s signature licks into his own style. Whether you are blues guitarist or a blues fan, these are must have CDs. Being a guitarist (and an educator), I look at blues CDs as textbooks. Linkchain’s CDs should be required “reading” for blues majors and those taking it as a GE course.

Another severely under-recorded blues singer and guitarist, from the same era as Linkchain, was Andrew Brown. Brown moved from Mississippi to Chicago in the late 1940’s and took lessons from the great Earl Hooker. He recorded several well-received singles in the 50’s and, finally, in 1980 Alligator released three of his songs on its second “Living Chicago Blues” series. Brown released his Handy Award winning CD “Big Brown’s Chicago Blues” for Black Magic in 1982. He released a second CD three years later. Sadly, he died of lung cancer soon after that.

Brown’s vocal style was much smoother than Linkchain’s. His singing was in the spirit of the great Southern R&B crooners such as Bobby Blue Bland. But his guitar work was phenomenal, as good as any of the greats. Like Rush and Sam., he excelled in the minor key blues – check out his “Losing Hand.” This tune is powerful and very representative of Chicago bluesman such as Fenton Robinson and jimmy Dawkins. There is a great Andrew Brown CD with most of his music available online (check out eBay).

People such as Linkchain and Brown didn’t start emerging until later in their lives and both died right before catching on with the mainstream blues world. However, their limited output is real, 100% honest, this is how it is done right, blues. I urge you to buy these CDs.