Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Rebecca Davis Winters' Blind Owl Blues book is the first in depth investigation of this multi-instrumentalist irregular lead singer's brief career. Like fellow Canned Heat band member Bob Hite, Alan had an intense love for old shellac, particularly with the Paramount label, listening through any surface noise to become transported into an intoxicating world of sound and human expression. He ended as one of the earliest inductees into the 27 club, accidentally OD'ing on some kind of street acquired downers on the even of a big European heat tour. Wilson had already made his mark in a number of areas however. He helped neglected blues legends like Son House back into performing and recording, contributed to the preservation of agricultural and arboreal diversity through seed collection and exchange, and was a major light in moving the blues expression into the future. He combined a Skip James style vocal delivery with electric backing and Eastern drone with On The Road Again, playing most of the instruments himself using studio overdubbing. Although he could mimic at as high a level as anybody, he successfully developed his own personal phrasing on An Owl Song. His most famous creation, Going Up The Country, effectively fuses hip flute (ala California Dreaming and Herbie Mann) with an almost Appalachian high lonesome flavored longing for release and escape; the song that would become emblematic of the 'Woodstock generation' and which still turns up in advertising aimed at a baby-boomer demographic.
To learn as much as there may well be to know about this important artist you need to get this book!