Blues legend Junior Wells has just released an official newly recorded single despite dying in 1998

Junior Wells with a harmonica
(Image credit: Cleopatra Records)

Blues legend Junior Wells is back. Despite dying in 1998 after a period of ill health, the singer and harmonica player – most famous for the 1960 standard Messin' With The Kid – has released a new single, and artificial intelligence is to blame.

Wells' new release is a cover of It's Your Voodoo Working by Charles "Mad Dog" Sheffield, which was originally released as a 7" single on the Excello label in 1961 and later became a cult favourite on the UK's Northern Soul circuit. It was produced by Jürgen Engler, founder of German industrial band Die Krupps, and is released by LA label Cleopatra Records, who were responsible for the 2018 Junior Wells collection Sexy Bitch - Box Of Blues.

"We wanted it to be authentic,” says Cleopatra Records head honcho Brian Perera.  “A lot of thought and production went into it, beginning with organic music. You’re going to be hearing a lot of AI created music in the future - in fact, there’s already a lot out there. But it always has that mechanical edge to it. That was the last thing we wanted here."

"We’re not going to be building a new Junior Wells," he assures us. "This isn’t a hologram tour, or old records remixed and overdubbed to sound like new ones. What we’ve created is a vehicle that allows him to continue performing, and we’re doing it with the full approval of Junior’s estate. This is classic Junior, performing a song that… it’s surprising that he never did it while he was alive."

While it's easy to be cynical about these kinds of developments, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and It's Your Voodoo Working is pretty tasty indeed, with a soul and a swagger that bely the vocal's binary origins.   

Last year, UK garage rockers the Jim Jones All Stars also released a cover of It's Your Voodoo Working as a Halloween-themed single. Jones, thankfully, is still with us. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.