Cerys Matthews' Blue Horizon



Among Cerys Matthews' landmark musical memories is a very sunny summer Sunday afternoon in 2009. It was the day that, browsing albums in Portobello Market, she parted with £70 and took home a rare copy of Fleetwood Mac's Sweet Pious Bird of Youth. She played it over and over again. She was hooked.

Since that day Cerys has fed her addiction to Blue Horizon records and has sought out and amassed a valuable collection of her own. She is passionately enthusiastic about these gems of recordings that are almost too precious to play.

The Blue Horizon record label linked the roots of the blues in the US with the UK blues scene of the 60s. It was the home of American blues artists Champion Jack Dupree, Bukka White, Mississippi Joe Callicot and Furry Lewis, Eddie Boyd, Otis Spann, Ainsley Dunbar, Elmore James but also of the British blues artists Chickenshack and Fleetwood Mac.

Label founder Mike Vernon also invented the blues sound we still hear today. In 1966, he produced the Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, considered one of the most influential British blues recordings. It was notable for its driving rhythms and Clapton's rapid blues licks with a full distorted sound derived from a Gibson Les Paul and a Marshall amp. This became something of a classic combination for British blues guitarists.

In the programme, Cerys talks to Mike Vernon about his passion for the blues and how he left the old-school Decca Record company to strike out on his own. Artists from Blue Horizon's roster, including former members of The Yardbirds, Fleetwood Mac and Chickenshack reflect on the part Blue Horizon played in their careers and establishing the credibility of Britain as a home for the blues.

Producer: Nick Barraclough

A Smooth Operations production for BBC Radio 4.