Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, 69, is a longtime Chicago electric bluesman and roots rocker with an affinity for wearing a full indian headdress that was given to him for good luck somewhere along life’s winding path.
Originally from Mississippi then Alabama, “Clearwater” (a play on “Muddy Waters”), played guitar behind various gospel groups – including the Five Blind Boys of Alabama – and he was still playing gospel when he arrived on Chicago’s West Side in 1950 at age 15. He soon got into the West Side blues sound of Magic Sam and the rock ‘n’ roll of Chuck Berry, and he’s been rocking Chicago ever since.
Clearwater’s latest (Grammy nominated) album, Rock ‘n’ Roll City, where he is backed by the outstanding instrumental roots rock quartet Los Straitjackets, is a pure delight (and imagine this fivesome live with Clearwater in his headdress and the Straitjackets in their Mexican wrestling masks). Focusing on the rock ‘n’ roll side of Clearwater’s repertoir, this collection of mostly originals by Clearwater (who sounds a lot like Berry) and the Straitjackets rocks with abandon and good time verve.
Highlights include the Berry-inspired “Ding Dong Daddy” and “Hillbilly Blues,” the mysterioso rocker “Monkey Paw,” ’50s-ish ballad “Before This Song Is Over,” the Carl Perkins-like “Old Time Rocker,” and a nice take on Fats Domino’s “Let the Four Winds Blow.” All hail the Chief!