Urbanisation and electrification were the key transformative elements that turned the blues associated with the Mississippi delta into what is now broadly described as ‘Chicago Blues’. The latter, with increasingly daring use of electronic effects such as overdrive and distortion, effectively gave rise to a new musical genre whose hard edges reflected the opportunities as well as the hardships and heartbreaks of the Great Migration that took place between 1910-1970 in the USA. In addition, it also provided the inspiration as well as the musical grammar of what we now refer to somewhat imprecisely as ‘hard rock’.
Maurice John Vaughn (correct spelling) may not be a name that instantly comes to mind when we think about Chicago Blues. This in many ways is a shame as he sits very centrally within the tradition. However, while Vaughn draws upon such trailblazers as Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf as well James Brown and more chart-oriented black artists, he is very his own man. Certainly, the quality of his musicianship on guitar, saxophone and vocals does justice to an innovative approach to songwriting which combines sharp observation, passion and occasionally wry humour.
In 1986, Vaughn released a self-produced CD wittily entitled Generic Blues Album. Later this was picked up by Alligator Records and subsequently declared "Blues Album of the Year!" by Guitar World magazine.
‘Computer Took My Job’ is an excellent example of the man’s artistry and talent combining prescience and pleading in equal measure.
“Computer took my job away from me Computer took my job away from me
“I was at work that mornin' When the big trucks came With the big machines inside My boss had us all gather 'round He said "the computers gonna make, They gonna make your work easier Don't you worry 'bout a thing" But don't you know, don't you know When the work is too easy Lord they don't need you no more
“Computer took my job away from me
“Then the layoffs came Puttin' good people out of work For some people it's the only work they know Twenty long years I worked I tried to live right And they take it all away Give the work back to the people We don't need a handout”
[NB The track below is offered in the lossless FLAC format (24-bit depth) which is now supported by most recent browsers and operating systems.]