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Check It Out: Taj Mahal’s “Little Red Hen Blues”

Taj Mahal is a national treasure. Two albums of his that I recommend are “Giant Steps”/”The Old Folks at Home” and “Ohhh So Good ‘n Blues.”

The first is a double record set, with acoustic and electric records. It is perhaps his best known album. The later is lesser known but every song is terrific. The man has recorded a tremendous amount of music.

The studio version of the song above was released on “Ohhh So Good ‘n Blues,” though the version on that album didn’t have “blues” in the title. It’s been one of my favorite songs for years. For some reason, I had difficulty finding it on the Internet for a long time. I finally found it. It’s still great.

Another version of “Little Red Hen” was on a live record entitled “In Progress & In Motion,” a compilation Mahal’s music from 1965 to 1998. It’s a great version. I couldn’t find the identities of the background singers on the original. On the live version above The Pointer Sisters help Mahal. My guess is that they are on the original as well, but I’m not sure.

The Daily Music Break covered Mahal — whose given name is Henry Saint Clair Fredericks — here. We put together a playlist that got partially deleted. I’ll fix it and post it soon.

Not everything Mahal has recorded is available at Amazon and iTunes. Here is product information for those interested: “Ohhh So Good ‘n Blues” is available at Amazon. “Giant Steps”/”The Old Folks at Home” is on Amazon. Finally, Mahal’s debut album — which includes a great version of “Statesboro Blues” — is available at iTunes.


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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.