Between 1975 and '77, Chicago’s southside nightclubs were experiencing dark times. The after-hours routine may have been on the up, but the sound of urban blues was on its way down, getting funkier, heavier, picking up a Zeppelin echo from the British rock scene that had raided its larder. Thankfully, lightening came by way of a lanky white guy skulking from club to club with a camera and strobe light. Chicago photographer Michael Abramson hit Perv’s House, Pepper’s Hideout, The High Chaparral, The Patio Lounge, and The Showcase Lounge nightly, not to capture the artists on stage but instead popping off a half-dozen rolls every night exclusively on the seldom photographed crowd.
Light: On The South Side gathers more than 100 beautiful black and white Abramson images, as Numero shines its own light on yet another dark corner of the musical past. The 132-page hardback book features not just these photos, but an extended and wildly colorful ephemera section, plus an essay by British novelist and Numero fan Nick Hornby. Housed in a gorgeous slipcase with the 12X12 monograph is the 2LP set Pepper’s Jukebox, a 17-track compilation of Chicago blues in transition, as heard from both the stage and the Wurlitzer. The deluxe 2LP set, featuring tracks by Little Mac Simmons, Arlean Brown, Bobby Rush, Lady Margo, Little Ed, and a dozen other soulful blues artists, is packaged in a sharp gatefold jacket with two inner sleeves crammed with label scans and stories.
This Grammy-nominated box set is now available in a deluxe white vinyl edition of 200 copies.