b. March 29th, 1951 in Inglewood (California)

d. Novembre 2nd, 1996 in Fresno (California)

THE EARLY YEARS vol.1 & 2

Watch Dog

Volume 1 (1978 - 1985)

Volume 2 (1985 - 1991)

Fils de parents originaires du Kentucky, il fréquente dès l'adolescence les clubs du ghetto de South Central à Los Angeles. William joue aux côtés de Shakey Jake et Smokey Wilson tout en exerçant le métier de machiniste. Il devient surtout l'élève de George "Harmonica" Smith entre 1977 et 1983 qui l'influence énormément. A la mort de William Clarke, sa femme Jeannette Lodovici a entrepris de publier sous la marque Watch Dog du matériel inédit gravé souvent dans d'excellentes conditions. Dans le premier volume, on trouve deux instrumentaux magnifiques où brille son harmonica : "Hittin' heavy", "Blues afterwhile". Mais aussi une belle version de "Teenage girl" chantée par George "Harmonica" Smith, un superbe "Fine little mama" chanté par Smokey Wilson, "So all alone", "Keep it to yourself". Dans le second volume, "Early in the mornin'" mérite vraiment l'écoute. On apprécie également les duos d'harmonica avec George "Harmonica" Smith ("Untitled tune"), Johnny Dyer ("So glad I'm livin'") et Mitch Kashmar (le superbe instrumental "Horn of plenty"). On peut signaler "Shoulda kept on runnin'" chanté par Rasheed Abdullah et trois morceaux live assez puissants. Sur ces deux disques, William montre toute l'étendue de son talent à l'harmonica bien supporté par de remarquables sidemen : "Hollywood" Fats, Rick Holmstrom, Fred Kaplan, Cardell Boyette alias Louisiana "Guitar" Red, Zach Zunis, Ronnie Earl.

Son of parents from Kentucky, he attended, since his teens, clubs of South Central ghetto in Los Angeles. William plays alongside Shakey Jake and Smokey Wilson while working as a machinist. He becomes especially the pupil of George "Harmonica" Smith between 1977 and 1983 which influences him enormously. On the death of William Clarke, his wife Jeannette Lodovici undertook to issue under the Watch Dog imprint brand new material often recorded in excellent conditions. In the first volume, there are two beautiful instrumentals where shines his harmonica : "Hittin' heavy", "Blues afterwhile". But also a beautiful version of "Teenage girl" sung by George "Harmonica" Smith, a superb "Fine little mama" sung by Smokey Wilson, "So all alone", "Keep it to yourself". In the second volume, "Early in the mornin'" really deserves listening. We also enjoy harmonica duets with George "Harmonica" Smith ("Untitled tune"), Johnny Dyer ("So glad I'm livin'") and Mitch Kashmar (the superb instrumental "Horn of plenty"). We can mention "Shoulda kept on runnin'" sung by Rasheed Abdullah and three rather powerful live tracks. On these two records, William shows all the extent of his talent on harmonica well supported by remarkable sidemen : "Hollywood" Fats, Rick Holmstrom, Fred Kaplan, Cardell Boyette aka Louisiana "Guitar" Red, Zach Zunis, Ronnie Earl.

HITTIN' HEAVY

Good Time

1978

NOW THAT YOU'RE GONE

Watch Dog

Late 70's - Early 80's

Ce CD exhume quelques bandes inédites de William Clarke vraisemblablement issues de différentes séances. Associé à ses amis harmonicistes Mitch Kashmar, George "Harmonica" Smith, Joe Lodovici ainsi qu'à ses musiciens réguliers ("Hollywood" Fats, Fred Kaplan, Junior Watson), il offre de très beaux moments comme "Now that you're gone", "Give me mine now", "She's gone", "When I get drunk".

This CD exhumes some unissued tapes of William Clarke likely from different sessions. Associated with his harmonicist friends Mitch Kashmar, George "Harmonica" Smith, Joe Lodovici and his regular musicians ("Hollywood" Fats, Fred Kaplan, Junior Watson), he offers some beautiful moments like "Now that you're gone", "Give me mine now", "She's gone", "When I get drunk".

BLUES FROM LOS ANGELES vol.1 & 2

Watch Dog

1980 - 1991

Assemblage de bandes éparses issues de différentes séances disséminées entre 1980 et 1991 (dont certaines sont déjà présentes dans "The early years" ou d'autres recueils). On trouve autour de William Clarke les meilleurs musiciens californiens : Luke "Long Gone" Miles, George "Harmonica" Smith, "Hollywood" Fats, Johnny Dyer, Smokey Wilson, Rick Holmstrom, Fred Kaplan, Junior Watson, Jimi Bott, Curtis Griffin. Il vaut mieux conseiller ces recueils aux fans confirmés de William Clarke. Le programme - forcément inégal - reste globalement de bon niveau.

Tapes compilation from different sessions scattered between 1980 and 1991 (some of which are already present in "The early years" or other collections). Surrounding William Clarke, we find the best Californian musicians : Luke "Long Gone" Miles, George "Harmonica" Smith, "Hollywood" Fats, Johnny Dyer, Smokey Wilson, Rick Holmstrom, Fred Kaplan, Junior Watson, Jimi Bott and Curtis Griffin. It is better to advise these collections to William Clarke's confirmed fans. The program - inevitably uneven - remains generally of good level.

CAN'T YOU HEAR ME CALLING

Rivera

Watch Dog

1983

Un programme intéressant et varié - constitué de deux séances West Coast - où William est accompagné de Junior Watson, Fred Kaplan, Bill Stuve et Jerry Monte. Il n'est pas un très grand chanteur mais, en revanche, se montre un harmoniciste très créatif. La réédition Watch Dog ajoute des titres déjà publié par ailleurs.

An interesting and varied program - consisting of two West Coast sessions - where William is accompanied by Junior Watson, Fred Kaplan, Bill Stuve and Jerry Monte. He is not a great singer but, on the other hand, is a very creative harmonica player. The Watch Dog reissue adds titles already issued elsewhere.

DOUBLE DEALIN'

Bluebeat

1983

Disque conjoint de l'harmoniciste William Clarke et du guitariste Junior Watson. Une belle séance typiquement West Coast, pas réellement originale mais solide, captée en même temps que "Can't you hear me calling". Quelques bons moments : "Musta been jelly", "One room country shack", "When I get drunk", "Boogie woogie woman".

Joint record of harmonicist William Clarke and guitarist Junior Watson. A nice, typical West Coast session, not really original but solid, captured at the same time as "Can't you hear me calling". Some good moments : "Musta been jelly", "One room country shack", "When I get drunk", "Boogie woogie woman".

TIP OF THE TOP

Satch

King Ace

Watch Dog

Double Trouble

1985

Dans cet album intense et consistant, on trouve un bel hommage à son mentor George "Harmonica" Smith ("Tribute to George Smith"), le superbe "Blowin' the family jewels", "Chromatic jump" capté lors d'une bataille d'harmonicas mais aussi "Goin' steady" et le prenant "Hard times". "Tip of the top" remporta un certain succès et permit à la carrière de William Clarke de s'envoler.

In this intense and consistent album, we find a beautiful tribute to his mentor George "Harmonica" Smith ("Tribute to George Smith"), the superb "Blowin' the family jewels", "Chromatic jump" captured during a battle of harmonicas but also "Goin' steady" and the fascinating "Hard times". "Tip of the top" was successful and allowed William Clarke's career to take off.

ROCKIN' THE BOAT

Rivera

Watch Dog

April 1987

Disque live enregistré sur une scène californienne en avril 1987. D'abord paru sur le label Rivera (dirigé par Bob Rivera) puis réédité par Jeannette Lodovici sur Watch Dog. Bon concert avec des moments intenses comme "Keep it to yourself" ou la reprise enchainée "Red house/Just a little bit of love" (chantée par Leonardo Watkins).

Live record captured on a Californian scene in april 1987. First issued on Rivera label (managed by Bob Rivera) then reissued by Jeannette Lodovici on Watch Dog. Good concert with intense moments like "Keep it to yourself" or the cover "Red house / Just a little bit of love" (sung by Leonardo Watkins).

LIVE IN GERMANY

Watch Dog

1980's

BLOWIN' LIKE HELL

Alligator

1990

Après le succès de "Tip of the top", William Clarke trouve l'opportunité de signer avec Alligator, le label de Chicago. Il est ici son propre producteur, supporté par de remarquables sidemen : Alex Schultz (guitare), Zach Zunis (guitare), Fred Kaplan (claviers), Willie Brinlee (basse), Eddie Clark (batterie) et sur certains morceaux par des cuivres (Jonny Viau, John Marotti). Compositions concises et inspirées, jeu d'harmonica brillant, un programme bien construit et bien produit. Un grand album d'harmonica blues ponctué de superbes moments comme "Lollipop mama", "Gambling for my bread", "Cash money", "Blowin' like hell" et deux remarquables pièces jazzy : "Greasy gravy", "Must be jelly".

After the success of "Tip of the top", William Clarke finds the opportunity to sign with the Chicago-based label Alligator. He is here his own producer, supported by remarkable sidemen : Alex Schultz (guitar), Zach Zunis (guitar), Fred Kaplan (keyboards), Willie Brinlee (bass), Eddie Clark (drums) and on some tracks by horns (Jonny Viau, John Marotti). Concise and inspired compositions, brilliant harmonica playing, a well built and well produced program. A great blues harmonica album punctuated by great moments like "Lollipop mama", "Gambling for my bread", "Cash money", "Blowin' like hell" and two remarkable jazzy tunes : "Greasy gravy", "Must be jelly".

LIVE BOOTLEG CASSETTE ANTHOLOGY

Watch Dog

1991 / September 1996

SERIOUS INTENTIONS

Alligator

1992

Pour ce second opus chez Alligator après l'étincelant "Blowin' like hell", William confirme ses excellentes dispositions. Une fois encore, la qualité des compositions (et de superbes musiciens) mérite d'être signalées : "Pawnshop bound", "Trying to stretch my baby", "Driving my life away", "Chasin' the gator", "It's been a long time".

For this second opus at Alligator after the sparkling "Blowin' like hell", William confirms his excellent predispositions. Once again, the quality of the compositions (and superb musicians) deserves to be mentioned : "Pawnshop bound", "Trying to stretch my baby", "Driving my life away", "Chasin' the gator", "It's been a long time".

ONE MORE AGAIN

Watch Dog

Approx. 1993

D'après les notes de pochette, ces bandes semblent dater de 1993. Une set-list relativement sympathique avec notamment les deux versions de "Home is where my heart is" (l'une lente, l'autre rapide). Il s'agit d'un CD édité par Watch Dog, le label dans lequel Jeannette Lodovici propose le matériel inédit de son mari William Clarke.

According to the sleeve notes, these tapes seem to date from 1993. A relatively nice set-list with notably two versions of "Home is where my heart is" (one in a slow tempo, the other fast). This is a CD issued by Watch Dog, the label in which Jeannette Lodovici offers unreleased material of her husband William Clarke.

GROOVE TIME

Alligator

1994

Nouvelle livraison de West Coast blues cuivré de William Clarke chez Alligator. S'il n'est pas un grand chanteur, il s'impose toutefois comme un remarquable harmoniciste (notamment au chromatique). Un programme un peu long et inégal parsemé de belles réussites : "Daddy Pinocchio", "Telephone is ringing", "Blowin' the family jewels", "Somebody is calling me home".

New installment of West Coast brassy blues by William Clarke at Alligator. If he is not a great singer, he nevertheless imposes himself as a remarkable harmonicist (especially on chromatic harmonica). A little long and uneven program dotted with beautiful moments : "Daddy Pinocchio", "Telephone is ringing", "Blowin' the family jewels", "Somebody is calling me home".

THE HARD WAY

Alligator

1996

D'après les notes de pochette, cet album est annoncé comme le plus blues et le plus jazz de William Clarke. Comme pour "Groove time", le contenu apparait relativement inégal, manquant parfois d'inspiration et d'originalité. On remarque quand même "The boss" où son harmonica se mêle parfaitement à la section cuivres.

According to liner notes, this album is announced as William Clarke's most blues and most jazz record to date. As for "Groove time", the content appears relatively uneven, sometimes lacking inspiration and originality. We still notice "The boss" where his harmonica blends perfectly with the horn section.