Forgotten series: Hip Linkchain – Airbusters (1989)

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NICK DERISO: To put it bluntly, you need to get hip to Linkchain — a player/singer gone too soon, but not before leaving one final blast of brilliance.

“Airbusters,” which included his final recordings, jumped off with a rocking barrelhouse number. (Of course, it did: That was ‘Barrelhouse Chuck’ on piano!) It was just the beginning, though, of a stomp-down good time. The groove on this one was so deep you could have lost a Cadillac in it — even while Hip Linkchain proved to be as serious as he was fun loving.

Make a beeline, then, to “I Had A Dream,” with its hilarious vocal turns and perfectly graduated guitar solo. Meanwhile, you’ve got serious compositions like Muddy Waters’ “Blow Wind Blow” and B.B. King’s “Gambler’s Blues,” but also an unforgettable track called “Take Out Your False Teeth.”

Linkchain could work this bipolar boogie because he played it like he lived it: One part big-city Chicago, and another part lower Delta, where Linkchain initially moved at age nine before his family headed north. There, Linkchain went on to play with more established figures like Little Walter, Lester Davenport, Junior Wells, Jimmy Rogers, Magic Sam (a key influence) and Willie Foster beginning in the late 1950s, and then led a group called the Chicago Twisters that included on vocals a young Tyrone Davis, later a staple on the blues chitlin circuit.

Linkchain’s recording career, unfortunately, was sporadic — though he managed hits with the single “Millionaire Blues” (featuring Eddie Taylor) on the Lola label and the album “Change My Blues” in 1981. That, in turn, also adds additional weight to the moments found on “Airbusters,” because Linkchain (birth name: Willie Richard) died too soon, the victim of cancer.

This record, originally made for the Dutch Black Magic label, shows just how important he could have been, though.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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