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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.]

Track of the Month

Maurice John Vaughn