Picks and Pans Review: The Cobra Records Story

UPDATED 05/17/1993 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/17/1993 at 01:00 AM EDT


This historic two-CD compilation offers up a thick and juicy slice of Chicago blues in its post-WW II heyday. Founded in 1956 by Eli Toscano, a Chicago record-store owner, Cobra recorded the cream of the West Side blues electric guitarists: Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam. Their tantalizingly slow, gospel-tinged style—along with their gruff or wailing minor-key vocals and their rollicking jump number—put a V8 in the Delta blues and became Chicago signatures. Other Cobra artists here are pianist Sunnyland Slim and harmonica wiz Walter "Shakey" Horton.

Toscano's gambling debts forced Cobra to fold in 1959, and he died later that year. The catalog lay dormant until 1972, when it was bought by Stan Lewis, a Shreveport, La., producer and distributor. Although a few cuts have turned up on collector labels since then, this is the first time these vintage sides have been issued all at once. Savoring them is a potent pleasure. (Capricorn)

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters