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41. B.B. King - Greatest Hits
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42. His Best : The Chess 50th Anniversary
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43. Live at the Regal
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44. Down in the Basement: Joe Bussard's
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45. Twenty
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46. Paul Butterfield Blues Band
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47. The Complete Early Recordings
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48. The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
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49. The Best Of Taj Mahal
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50. Etta Baker With Taj Mahal
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51. The Very Best Of Dr. John
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52. The Sky Is Crying: The History
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53. Standards
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54. Guitarded
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55. Buddy's Baddest: The Best Of Buddy
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56. Original Delta Blues
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57. One-Dime Blues
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58. His Best
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59. Sometime Tuesday Morning
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60. The Rough Guide to Bottleneck

41. B.B. King - Greatest Hits
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Asin: B00000ADG3
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1343
Average Customer Review: 4.64 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars "So You See Why I Stuck With Blues."
This BB King quote, stated to David Ritz, was his conclusion to why he chose to play and sing blues over his other love, gospel music. "A gospel song would get me a pat on the head," he said. "But a blues would get me a dime." The blues earned King not only more than his share of dimes, but a spot among music's seminal performers and teachers. Despite Ritz properly mentioning that King's music was too blue for rock and roll or soul during his early career, he has become as much a caretaker of rock's traditions as of the blues themselves.

This one-disc collection, even at 16 songs, seems too little space for BB King's prolific, quality output, especially after 1992's expansive "King Of The Blues" box. But "Greatest Hits" timed to King's most recent rock-oriented successes: his "How Blue Can You Get?" sampled on a pop hit, his U2 collaboration, his Robert Cray duet on "Playing With My Friends" (from "Blues Summit," among the 90s best blues releases), even "Paying The Cost To Be The Boss" covered by Pat Benatar! With remarkable liner notes and references to original ABC/MCA LPs (nearly all in print), "Greatest Hits" is a sampler tour through BB King's immense, classic blues catalogue.

It's also another chance to hear King with much better sound, courtesy of compiler Andy McKaie (who handled MCA's exceptional Chess blues compilations) and Erick Labson's remastering. It freshly paints Johnny Pate's production on 1964's seminal "Live At The Regal" tracks, King's 1969-70 string of of rockin' blues hits ("Why I Sing The Blues," the original "Thrill Is Gone"), even overlooked gems like Doc Pomus/Dr. John's tailor-made "There Must Be A Better World Somewhere."

What "Greatest Hits" shows most is King's guitar playing and vocal economy; no melismatic vocal trills or guitar hyperspace, even live where crowds needed pleasing. Instead, King's solos in "I Like To Live The Love" and "Don't Answer The Door" press the melody forward, and his underrated vocals show occassional collaborator Bobby Bland's strong "Sinatra Of The Blues" influence. King shared (or at least impressed) these traits on his most recent collaborator, Eric Clapton, and here does with just-enough help from friends like Joe Walsh and Leon Russell (on Russell's "Hummingbird") and Stevie Wonder (on "To Know You Is To Love You..")

"Greatest Hits" is THE King album for casual fans or those who enjoy his rare spins on classic rock or oldies radio. Blues fans wanting to dig deeper should pick up any of the original LPs, including "Live At The Regal," "There Must Be A Better World Somewhere," "Indianola Mississippi Seeds, " or the Bobby Bland collaborations. "Greatest Hits" covers quality ground quickly, and thus remains an essential one-stop blues shop.

3-0 out of 5 stars Too focused on mediocre latter-day material
This certainly isn't everything you could ever want from the Beale Street Blues Boy, but it does give the first-time listener a pretty accurate idea about what to expect from B.B. King. For better or worse.

His excellent and highly influential 50s singles are missing, which is a shame, especially since some of those were actually sizable hits and this compilation has the audacity to call itself "Greatest Hits".
Still, there are lot of great moments here anyway...the swinging "Paying The Cost To Be The Boss", the epic "Why I Sing The Blues", and the slow burner "How Blue Can You Get" among them, and they sit next to two cuts from King's highly succesful "Live At The Regal" album, an excellent "Sweet Little Angel" and a hideous "Every Day I Have The Blues" which falls miles short of Memphis Slim's potent original ("Nobody Loves Me").

But there are too many mediocrities on this album...King experimented with some sort of pop-blues fusion in the 70s and 80s, and the compilers have included "To Know You Is to Love You", "I Like To Live The Love" and "Hummingbird" from that unfortunate era. The duets with Robert Cray on "Playin' With My Friends" and rock group U2 on "When Love Comes To Town" are not much more uplifting, and too much of this material was recorded well after King's prime.

If you like B.B. King at his most pop-friendly, you will probably enjoy this compilation. If you like him at his grittiest, you will certainly be disappointed. May I suggest the double-disc "Anthology" instead, along with "Do The Boogie: B.B. King's Early '50s Classics" instead.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ohhh, man, ain't nuttin' like the blues by way'a the King...
I like to think that my musical tastes run very deep an' very broad; I also like 'ta think that I can jus' pick up any album by any artist of any genre an' feel it at any given time. But, there are those days, yep, there ARE those days when I need me some blues music. Some straight-forward, no apologies, no variations, an' no deeper meaning to any of it, than jus' bein' the BLUES. I've got a few different selections by B.B. King (not enough to call myself a die-hard or anything), but I think I get the MOST outta this hits collection. Is' got ALL the classics that e'ybody knows; so much so that there's no need for me to liste 'em. Every song on here is equally good; in other words, THERE IS NOT ONE BAD SONG ON THIS DISC! You better believe it, too. An' I really can't get enough of it.

Here's a situation: This morning I said my prayers, I watched a lil' tube, I smoked my first cigarette in two weeks an' decided that my attempt to quit jus' isn't gonna take jus' yet, I hadda argument with my ex (we were doin' so good the past week too), so what that all amounts to is that tonight I'm'a sit back, drink a few beers, smoke some cigarettes, an' listen to this CD, blues at it's best. Then I'm'a say my nighttime prayers, lay my head down, an' hope that tomorrow will be a better day. Thas' what it all means to me.

I'll definitely explore some more'a the King's work in the near-future, but for now, I'm good with this. It keeps me toned down enough to not get lost in my pain, but it allows me to not give in to the "look on the bright side" bullcrap an' jus' wallow for the time being. I love me some blues music. 'Specially when is' done right. An' the King ALWAYS did it right.

4-0 out of 5 stars His Bluesy Best
A nice compilation of this blues legend. Some catchy lyrics and strong guitar solos exist throughout this collection. The first seven songs are strictly three chord blues progressions which can be a bit tiresome for some audiences. However, the catchy lyrics make you pay attention to such gems as Paying The Cost To Be The Boss, How Blue Can You Get?, and The Thrill Is Gone.

The next few tracks have a more varied arrangement and get away from the standard three chord progression. BB King gets funky in spots and the use of strings and horns in the background add a nice touch. The duets with Bono and Robert Cray are quite good. A nice intro to this legend, indeed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Teriffic Blues music
BB King: Greatest Hits is a tremendously wonderful Blues CD. It has all the music you could expect. It's too bad my family has only one BB King CD. But now knowing how good BB King is, I'm going to collect more. So if you like BB King, you'll LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. ... Read more


42. His Best : The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection
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Asin: B000005KQT
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 5192
Average Customer Review: 4.94 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Marion "Little Walter" Jacobs is perhaps the most influential harmonica player on contemporary blues, and his collection is a great place to start. He was trained by Muddy Waters, but brought a more swinging feel to blues. Muddy and his band accompany Little Walter on many hits, as do Robert "Jr." Lockwood, the Aces, and other Chicago greats. In the 1950s, Little Walter's popularity eclipsed even Waters', his style a little more relaxed and pop-oriented. Walter's versions of many songs are the standards: "Blues with a Feeling," "You're So Fine," "Juke." Great stuff. --Robert Gordon ... Read more

Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars ****½. Almost perfect
This is the best available single-disc overview of Little Walter Jacobs' career.

The highly renowned blues harmonica player was not a singer of the caliber of Muddy Waters, or a songwriter to rival Sonny Boy Williamson (II), but his recording career spanned some 20 years, and there are more than enough gems in his catalogue to fill this disc to the point of overflowing.

"His Best" has the best sound currently available, and excellent liner notes, and while the double-disc "The Essential Little Walter" is more thorough, this is all that most listeners will need. A couple of great songs are missing, most notably Walter's gritty rendition of Willie Dixon's "Dead Presidents", but that's a minor quibble...almost all of Walter's best is here.

1997's "His Best" takes the place of MCA/Chess' original 12-track LP "The Best Of Little Walter", a landmark blues album which had remained in print for over three decades. Here is his first hit single, the instrumental hit "Juke", as well as Walter's versions of Big Bill Broonzy's "Key To The Highway", Dixon's "My Babe", and T-Bone Walker's "Mean Old World" (shamelessly credited to Jacobs himself). And virtually all of Walter's best self-penned songs are here..."Blues With A Feeling", "Boom Boom, Out Goes The Light", "Tell Me Mama", and numerous often masterful instrumentals.

This is certainly the place to start, the finest single-disc Little Walter-compilation on the market.

5-0 out of 5 stars Little Walter: His Best
Beginning his career performing his masterful harmonica playing in Muddy Waters' band, Little Walter broke out on his own with his 1952 hit "Juke." From there Walter's amplified sound (which he originated) became a common entity of Chicago blues. This best-of collection selects the cream of the crop from mostly Walters 1950's sessions recorded for the Chess label; revealing him not only as a divine harmonica player, but as a skilled songwriter as well.

Included on the album are classic numbers such as the bouncing rhythm of the aforementioned "Juke", the wailing harmonica of "Blues With A Feeling", and the hopping "My Babe", a song penned by the great Willie Dixon, becoming the biggest hit of Walter's career in early 1955.

In addition, three photographs and six pages of insightful,well written notes by Billy Altman are included. Although a few noteworthy numbers are absent, this collection remains a fine testament of one of the founding fathers of Chicago Blues.

5-0 out of 5 stars sure, he's the king of the harp players, but...
...don't forget the singing - little walter is one of the greatest singers ever. and also the unique, immediately recognizable band concept, with a two-guitar sound that is a world unto itself, clearly distinct from the muddy/jimmy and wolf/hubert two-guitar deals. but really; come for the singing too - it is otherworldly sweet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blues harp at it's best!
If you're into blues harp there's no better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unsurpassed
Marion Walter Jacobs (b. May 1, 1930 in Alexandria, Louisiana), and influenced by the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson (No. 1) and Louis Jordan and his jump saxophone arrangements, quite simply revolutionized the blues harmonica technique when he showed up at Chicago's famed Maxwell Street market in 1947.

Among the hundreds of artists plying their trade in that environment he stood out to the point where he attracted the interest of the small Chicago labels Ora Nelle and Regal where he cut several sides. His big break came in 1951 when the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil, hired him to back Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers, and it was as much his amplified harmonica that made hits out of Mannish Boy, I'm Ready, and Standing Around Crying [by Waters), and That's All Right and The World Is In A Tangle (Rogers).

By 1952 he was assigned to the Checker subsidiary, and by that September he literally burst into prominence when the instrumental Juke streaked to # 1 R&B and remained there for eight solid weeks [the flip was Can't Hold On Much Longer and is erroneously listed in this compilation as "Can't Hold Out ..."). This single was billed to Little Walter and His Night Cats.

The follow-up Sad Hours (instrumental) didn't quite repeat that success, settling for # 2 early in 1953, while the vocal flipside, Mean Old World, reached # 6 as by Little Walter and His Night Caps. Fittingly, Muddy Waters played guitar on each of these first three hits.

When his next hit reached the charts later that spring (Off The Wall, # 8 as an instrumental, and Tell Me Mama, # 10 as a vocal, he was billed as Little Walter and His Jukes in order to capitalize on his debut smash hit. The Jukes consisted of Chess sessionmen Louis and David Myers on guitar and Fred Belows on drums.

From there to 1959 he would add 10 more hit singles to his credit, his last coming in 1959 when Everything Gonna Be Alright (erroneously listed as "Everything's") reached # 25 (his lowest charter) as simply by Little Walter. These included the seminal My Babe, written by Willie Dixon and based upon the old spiritual This Train, which became his only other # 1 hit, staying at that position for five weeks early in 1955.

It would have been nice if, in putting this tribute together, producer Andy McKaie had found room for the three hits omitted - Oh Baby which made it to # 8 in May 1954 b/w Rocker, You'd Better Watch Yourself which reached the same position that September b/w Blue Light, and Who, which reached # 7 in April 1956 b/w It Ain't Right. You can find You'd Better Watch Yourself on The Best Of Little Walter from MCA/Chess, also listed by Amazon.

Adding to this CD's worth are the six pages of liner notes written by Billy Altman, which includes a wonderful story behind Juke, several nice photographs, and a complete discography of the contents. To quote from Mr. Altman "By 1968 he was gone, leaving behind a legacy that harmonica players everywhere regard as, quite simply, the holy grail."

Just a superb collection. ... Read more


43. Live at the Regal
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Asin: B000002P72
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 3615
Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com essential recording

Heralded as one of the greatest live blues albums ever recorded, this set catches the singer-guitarist as his star was in ascent: in 1964 playing Chicago's answer to Harlem's Apollo Theater--the Regal. King's performance is visceral. He sings so hard that gravel flies even in his clearest high notes. And his trademark single-note guitar lines are sharp and steely, matching his voice with trembling vigor. He offers early hits like "How Blue Can You Get," "Worry, Worry," and "You Upset Me Baby" to what's essentially his adopted hometown crowd (by his own account, King had already played the theater hundreds of times). They give him a hero's welcome. In fact, the audience's screaming enthusiasm is distracting. But rarely has a love-fest of this magnitude between a performer and fans been documented. --Ted Drozdowski ... Read more

Reviews (28)

5-0 out of 5 stars blues workout
B.B. King with his dearest, Lucille in action at the club The Regal. It is an absolutely incredible album in which you get drawn into further and further after each track. B.B.'s playing is top shelf and his audience surely lets him know. It is the raucous crowd that is audible during the whole show that seems to rub its excitement onto the listener. Anyway, this is a fantastic album that truly exemplifies how good a live blues album can really be. It is an album that is essential listening for any blues fan of any genre.

5-0 out of 5 stars the definitive
From the opening introduction to the last note, this CD is simply amazing. Kings voice resonates clearly and moves your soul. An economical guitar players every note he hits floods your body with emotion. With the live crowd in a frenzy you feel like you are at the Regal that night. This is the King of the Blues at the height of his powers and this is the best live record ever.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superlative live performance
It must have been a truly amazing night at the Regal Theater. I saw BB King perform at a stadium show a couple years ago, and he was still a fine performer even then, but this recording is the man in his prime in an intimate venue. The audience response complements the music rather than distracting from it. King clearly had these people in the palm of his hand. Judging from the clarity and power of his guitar playing and nuanced singing, it is not hard to understand why.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply put, marvelous.
This cd is one of the all time great vlues albums, and I am thankful that it has been restored onto cd, for further generations of bleus fans. This is classic BB in fine voice, and playing jazz riffs on his guitar.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blues People & Riley King
As has been noted, this is one of the essential albums, one of the records that everyone is supposed to have like John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, like Robert Johnson, like the music Billie Holiday made with Lester Young for Columbia, like Louis's Hot 5s and Hot 7s, like Elvis's Sun Sessions.

Beyond that, this is something that has become increasingly rare, a live blues recording where the music is played for blues people, African American working class and middle class blues people in an urban center. This all about singing and swinging and jiving and talking to the audience and the audience talking back.

When I was in Mississippi in the mid 1960s doing civil rights work, I met Blues People who loved BB King who didn't know that he played the guitar. The expression always was and still is 'BLUES SINGER," not blues guitarist. He sang the blues the way they needed to listen to and in a Blues People venue the folks will talk back to him too.

My favorite, classic moment of the blues dialog here is in "It's my own fault baby" where Riley sings "I gave you seven children, and now you want to give 'em back." All the sistas in the audience scream. Gruffer sounds came from the men.

What is essential to blues performance for BLUES PEOPLE is the constant dialog between the singer and the audience that is the heart of the native blues experience. The dialog isn't about the impeccable guitar playing on this record, or the totally righteous playing of the band, or even the fine voice of Riley B. King here, but it is about what the words the lyrics speak to the lives of the audience, and what the audience responds to the singer. That's the center of blues, not heavy guitar licks that the post-folk-post rock blues fan thinks is the essence of heavy blues.

It's a shame the audience for the blues has almost disappeared, that blues stars no longer play in big "Chitlin' Circuit" theaters like the Regal, the Apollo, the Howard, the old non hippie Fillmore, or that you can't see Riley or Bobby Blue Bland in smoky little night clubs in the ghetto.

Perhaps, I am showing my age here, because time has to roll on. I am sure that night at the Regal there was someone who could remember when the sistas and their men would be shouting back at things Bessie Smith, or Big Maceo and Tampa Read, Lonnie Johnson, or Memphis Minnie had sung to them from that same stage without the electric instruments.

The real Black blues when it was based among us, was about singing, about commentary. For even the greatest guitarists like Riley, Lonnie Johnson, T-Bone Walker, Johnny Lee Hooker, Guitar Slim, the guitar playing and the band were just ways to emphasize how the to talk to audience. This brings to mind that great Betty Carter Album, "The Audience and Betty Carter." This is the Blues People and Riley King talking to each other. That's priceless, get it, and listen to it. ... Read more


44. Down in the Basement: Joe Bussard's Treasure Trove of Vintage 78s 1926-1937
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Asin: B00009MGQU
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 3673
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars I swear I can almost smell his cigar!
This is the most fun I've ever had with a compact disc. Joe Bussard spent his entire life searching shotgun shacks for dusty old 78s. Now he lives to share them with anyone with an ear or two. I'm telling you, there should be a Saint category for this (Remind me to email John Paul II after I'm done here).

The music is completely joyous. The well-designed booklet holds many great tales of Bussard's record-hunting expeditions. Listening to the CD and reading his stories makes me feel like I'm in his damn basement, digging Stack-O-Lee right along with Joe and his cat.

If you want to hear some real honest-to-gosh beautiful roots music that you won't find anywhere else, go Down in the Basement; it's among the best the twentieth century had to offer.

Thanks Joe! And let's have a second volume soon!

Ed Kaz 1.20.04

5-0 out of 5 stars Down in the Groove
This record is a complete blast, from the track selection to the packaging. Joe Broussard owns 50,000 78s of gospel, old country, blues, cajun, etc and 24 of them made it on this disc. The sound is sparkling and the only clunker track is "Give the World a Smile" by the Corley Family. Good to hear some obscurities alongside Rev Gary Davis and Big Bill Broonzy and I'm glad the world has at least a couple of pale record freaks who like to sit in their basements sniffing shellac and collecting pristine old-time music. Makes me want to go steal a Victrola!

5-0 out of 5 stars Two dozen time machines that work
Joe Bussard has one of the coolest record collections on earth.
He started his own pirate radios station in his parent's basement when he was a teen in the later 40s. He later did real radio shows and still does. He started collecting records when he was 12 years old and he still does. He started his own record label called Fonotone and John Fahey recorded his first records in Joe's basement. This comes with a 74 page incredible illustrated an informative book. Too bad there's only ONE disc considering the size of Joe's collection, but we can all hope and pray for this to be the first in a loooooooong series of such anthologies. This set of 24 old-time songs, hillbilly whoops, jazz, country blues, gospel, jug bands, and more, feels as alive today as the moment it was created. This is so great, get it and you'll be rewarded with some incredible music and a cool visit with Joe Bussard by way of the extensive liner notes and images.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Legendary Joe Bussard
Bussard is a legend among old record collectors and this opening of his vaults promises musical bliss. For the complete story on Bussard go to http://www.bluesworld.com/Bussard.html -- and after reading it you'll have to agree with the previous reviwer that one CD is not enough. Maybe there will be future volumes....

5-0 out of 5 stars Why oh why only one CD?! Buy it anyways!
The only problem with this CD is we get nice big fancy packaging and only one CD. Joe Bussard has 25,000+ 78's in his collection and we only get 24 of 'em?! This should have at least been a two disc set, at least. But who cares, the music is amazing and the booklet is entertaining. If your a diehard old time music freak you probably already have everthing on this disc, but if you're like me and are just now discovering this music, buy it, along with all the other Old Hat CD's and everything on Yazoo Records. ... Read more


45. Twenty
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Asin: B00097DXVW
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 209
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

With his chocolaty cool, soulful Memphis croon and sure sense of melody, Robert Cray has never been considered a straightahead bluesman. His often interchangeable albums have instead stayed closer to R&B, adding compact, stinging lead guitar to songs about matters of the heart. That formula remains, with minor variations, on Cray's 14th release, rather confusingly named Twenty. The title track, a gripping, emotional anti-war ballad of the experience of a GI in Iraq (that, incidentally, doesn't contain the word "twenty") shows the singer/songwriter shifting his emotionally charged storytelling lyrics to the political arena. It's a brief but confident detour from his usual M.O. of relationships on the brink of collapse or in general disrepair, typically related in the first person. Subtle yet effective forays into loungey jazz on "My Last Regret" and even reggae on the opening "Poor Johnny" indicate a healthy tendency to push his established envelope, if only gently, into other genres.

But Cray sticks to his established bread and butter for the majority of this sturdy album, effortlessly churning out shoulder-swaying, foot-tapping R&B accompanied by a clean, clear tenor voice and a road-hardened band that finesses these songs with the perfect combination of fire and ice. Old fans won't be disappointed, and newcomers can start here and work backwards. --Hal Horowitz ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars His Best CD Yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Robert Cray gets better with each new CD.His writing is top notch, check out Poor Johnny, Fading Away and That Ain't Love. His guitar work is unbelievable, I'm Walking, Two Songs from the End, I Know you Will. Check out the tastiest guitar playing on the cover song I Forgot to be Your Lover. All in all not a bad song on the CD. Blues, Rock, Jazz, Soul it's all here. Great listening, especially thru headphones.If you love good, well played music pick up Twenty. Make sure you see this band live, when they come to your town. As good as their albums are, the band is even better live. Don't miss them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Smooth Riding Robert Cray
Robert Cray hails from the BB King school of guitar playing.. and I have every single release from RC ..and they are restrained glory in every sense of the word.Then, suddenly in a song, he busts out with some very good guitar playing that catches you off guard.

This particular recording is very complete, and very gospel sounding, in a lot of places.. but yet RC's voice is very gospel sounding in itself.. so I really think that is where a lot of the gospel comparisons come into the mix... and lets face it... a lot of guitar players play guitar and will sing as well.. but in RC's case.. his singing is as every bit of (dare I say even better) than his fantastic guitar ability.This can make for a very pleasureable experience.

This cd does cut fray into the political arena, but robert sings like someone who means what he has to say and is not really trying to paint an overtly political statements... very heartfelt song.

The guitar playing on this CD... there is as much guitar playing on this CD as one would like to hear.RC uses the guitar so much in phrases, and catches so much melody.. and when he does break out in solos, they mean something.

I must admit, this RC cd is a lot better than his past couple... and they were good too, but this one is better.

Enjoy, Have fun.

5-0 out of 5 stars Twenty
I just listened to Robert Cray Band, album, "Twenty," for the first time.I quite by accident stumbled over it.I have not even heard any of the other songs but this particular one, so real and contemplative- a song/story about a US soldier in IRAQ and his emotional journal about his frustrations there. The lyrics are so appropriate for this day and circumstances of all veteran soldiers, present and past, andso hauntingly wonderful, that I will buy the CD just for this one song.If any of the other songs are as near as good, it will be a bonus! I just can't stop playing it from my computer. It really made me think of this war and what it is doing to the world and the men & women fighting and dying for all of us.I highly recommend it.Highly.Robert Cray is a ture storyteller.And to think that I never heard of him until tonight!

5-0 out of 5 stars Yes
It is wonderful to a musician taking a political voice as they did in the Vietnam era. Powerful in a subtle way. ... Read more


46. Paul Butterfield Blues Band
list price: $11.98
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Asin: B000002GZ1
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 4923
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars Where The First Blues Revival Really Began
It's only too easy to overrate the original Butterfield Blues Band, who kick-started the original mid-1960s blues revival and, as it happens, sent the folk "revival" of the earlier part of the decade all but packing as a mass phenomenon, both with their own electrifying workshop performances at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and with a few of them (guitarist extraordinaire Mike Bloomfield, drummer Sam Lay, and bassist Jerry Arnold) limbering up behind Bob Dylan for the latter's long-legendary electric set. But there's no overrating the Butterfield gang's music or debut album - almost forty years after the sextet first laid it out, it's riveting, elemental, and demands to be heard all through each layer of the thrustingly sensitive sound.

They may have anchored themselves with Howlin' Wolf's rhythm section (Lay and Arnold), but Butterfield's heart seemed more to belong to Little Walter, both in the preponderance of Walter's material covered (and with reverence but not redundancy) here and in elements of his own harmonica style. (As it happened, Butterfield, Bloomfield, and second guitarist Elvin Bishop had each known, played with, and learned from the Chicago electric blues masters previously, and never lost the old masters' respect.) Bloomfield, of course, was already an outsized talent in his own right - he's not quite the sleek, polished old pro who would go from drop-dead to existentially expressive (by way of his luminous work with first the Electric Flag and, later, the Al Kooper "Super Session" projects), but he's exuberant, committed, and passionate, and he's already figuring out how to temper his chops and subordinate them to taste and to melodiousness in his solos by the time the set begins to wind down. Not that it's so bad when he just lets fly - in fact, he's the main instigator behind "Screamin'," possibly the wildest instrumental to spring up from any of the decade's blues revivalists, both as its co-composer and its prime cattle prod, dropping off a solo here and there to deliver little sharp stings to either Butterfield (with some choice harmonica sweeps and cries), Bishop (an occasional spiky lick here and there and effectively), and keyboard ace Mark Naftalin while letting the rhythm section whomp it up shamelessly.

Still, the band was wholly accessible, from the romping "Shake Your Moneymaker" to the strolling "Last Night"; from the rocking "Born in Chicago" to the galloping "Thank You, Mr. Poobah"; from the dripping "Our Love Is Drifting" to the bristling boogie joyousness of Sam Lay taking the vocal for "Got My Mojo Workin'." Butterfield was a passable vocalist with perhaps more feeling than voice, but he proved himself a legitimate comer as a blues harp specialist and bandleader. That the elders from whom he and his merry men learnt their blues directly accepted them as one of their own testifies even more potently to how powerful this album was then...and now. But even without its time-and-place importance, it's just good music.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blues for Big John's
From November 1964 until September 1966, I had the good luck to work at Big John's, the legendary Chicago blues club in the city's Old Town area a couple of miles north of the Loop. The Paul Butterield Blues Band really took off during its many engagements at Big John's.

This is the band's first album. The cover art shows Mike Bloomfield (left), Paul Butterfield, Sammy Lay, Elvin Bishop, and Jerome Arnold. The photo was taken on Chicago's Maxwell Street.

This is the band that opened the doors at Big John's to all of the great black blues bands on the South and West Sides: Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and others. This is the band that inspired other young white blues musicians who appeared at Big John's: Corky Siegel and Jim Schwall, Barry Goldberg and Steve Miller. This is the band that turned heads at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival when it backed Bob Dylan. This is the band that paved the way for the blues revolution in the 1960s and beyond.

Some of the songs on this album are blues classics, while others were written by South Side native Nick "The Greek" Gravenites and have since become blues classics. Nick is a blues legend himself and was a close friend of Butterfield and Bloomfield.

All of us at Big John's were excited by this album when Elektra released it. We felt we were riding the crest of a wave. Hearing this album always evokes warm memories of a wonderful time in my life, when I couldn't wait to go to work each night to hear more of this great music. And I was able to so for almost two years, until Big John's was closed by the powers that be in Chicago. The club was gone forever. But not the music.

You may read more of my memories of those great days on my jazz and big band web site...

5-0 out of 5 stars the start of it all
Although the real roots lie with the black artists who inspired these guys, the PBBB is where the hippy generation,(this is a couple years pre-San Francisco, and before the Stones and Beatles began stretching their arrangements out on record),learned to JUST PLAY. Their next record was more representative of what they were actually doing live at time time, and is the single greatest influence on what became the San Francisco sound of the late 60's and early 70's, (REALLY long and experimental jamming), so this is in fact the "roots of the roots of the roots" of todays jam bands and guitar-heavy blues bands, mixed-race bands, and, for all practical purposes, the white-blues-man in todays' world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Milestone In Music
In the early Sixties, the prevailing wisdom was that the blues was a music based on the shared experience of African Americans and that any attempt by a "Caucasian" to play the blues would..er, uh...pale in comparison to the authentic renditions of the blues by African Americans. In 1965, Paul Butterfield broke that color barrier, not by successfuly "imitating" black blues musicians, but by developing his own signature playing and singing style that demanded that audiences and critics accept Butterfield on his own terms. Butterfield's passion and intensity transcended any formulamatic notions of authenticity simply because of Butterfield's refusal to be evaluated as an imitator. His playing and singing were so uniquely stylized and original that when Butterfield played "Look Over Yonder's Wall" nobody used the Elmore James original as a litmus test of authenticity. I've heard enough bad imatators of B.B.King, both black and white, to know that racial authenticy is not a very reliable benchmark to evaluate good blues. Mediocrity is color blind, as is brilliance and any argument to the contrary is simply, as they say, academic.

Butterfield's band was bi-racial with rythym section consisting of Howlin' Wolf Band veterans Jerome Green on bass and the mighty Sam Lay on drums. Elvin Bishop, a University of Chicago student from Oklahoma learned guitar under the tutelage of another Howlin' Wolf veteran, Smokey Smothers. From 1963 until 1965 Bishop and Butterfield played together at Little John's a smokey blues joint on Chicago's northside. Near the time of this recording, Mark Naftalin was added to the band. Naftalin, a former University of Chicago student, played understated but tasty solos on Hammond organ. Naftalin was a nuanced jazz player having received a year of formal training at Mannes College of Music, where he was recruited by Butterfield for the band.

Many of the tracks from this album were originally recorded without Michael Bloomfield's guitar, but Butterfield reluctantly added Bloomfield, an out of work session player under contract to Columbia Records, at the urging of Paul Rothschild, the brilliant producer at the budding Elektra record label. Bloomfield was a young guitar savant whose signture guitar style contained elements of Albert King's tension, release and sustained feedback; Wes Montgomery's cascading flurries of jazz notes; Elmore James' electrifying bottle neck; and even unconvential modalities like atonal Indian ragas and swaying samba rythyms. The diffence of the in the master tapes with and without Bloomfield is startling. The addition of Bloomfield's explosive guitar playing appears to have ignited the entire band

On the opening cut, "Born In Chicago" Butterfield wastes no time in dispelling the white blues efficacy argument with his take no prisoners approach to blues shouting. The hard edged lyrics to Nick Gravenites's song,"...I was born in Chicago in 1941, and my father told me, son you had better get a gun", seemed to be issuing a challenge to the Doubting Thomases with staid intellectual theories of black authenticity. Butterfield's haromica playing is so uniquely sculpted that comparisons to either Little Walter or Sonny Boy Williamson are futile. The approach of the Butterfield Blues Band raises the ante to new sonic levels. The decibel level is so high and the playing is so intense that it appears that the band can generate enough electricity to light up the Chicago skyline. Butterfield and his guitarist Bloomfield appear to be circling each other like caged lions in the crossfire between the harmonica and guitar solos. Elvin Bishop's rippling and bracing guitar solos are almost an afterthought because Butterfield and Bloomfield remained locked in a tense struggle for sonic domination of the band that rages like a prarie fire until the last note of the final song, "Look Over Yonder's Wall."

Such was the legendary mutual ambivalence between Paul Butterfield and Michael Bloomfield...the twin towers of the Butterfield Blues Band. Both men were so endowed with rare musical talent that only an act of serendipity placed them on the same stage together. They were linked forever by this hellaciously good band, but each seemed to be saying to the other the equivalent of, "This band ain't big enough for the both of us." It was this brinksmanship between Butter and Bloom that often pushed the band into uncharted territory.

I saw this edition of the Butterfield Band twice in concert and their approach to both jazz and blues was so intense that they appeared to be tearing a hole in the fabric of the cosmos itself, armed with the sword of Damocles. The brilliance of Paul Rothchild's production was that he captured this raw intensity and seamless playing skill on vinyl. One can take a snapshot of the eye of a hurricane, but few photos capture the fury of storm, itself. Rothchild seemed to have bottled a raging force of nature, using some form of trickery at the studio mixing console. Bloomfield was partially responsible because he was the rare musician could play on a both a concert stage, or the clinical setting of a studio booth with the same pulse stopping immediacy.

For better or for worse, Butterfield's first album was an early statement of a generation of musicians who were unwilling to accept the arbitrary limits of conventional wisdom. It was 1965; and the musical revolution that about to change everyone's lives so dramatically was just budding forth. As the Sixties unfolded a hundreds of self-styled musicians bloomed into musical maturity and like Butterfield and Bloomfield, they challenged conventional wisdom and often their creativity crossed the divide between the sacred and the profane, but we are all better people for it.

4-0 out of 5 stars El mejor grupo de blues de los 60.
Mientras los grupos Ingleses de mediados de los 60 redescubrían el blues y lo llevaban a grandes audiencias, al otro lado del Atlántico Paul Butterfield y su banda inician ya en forma definitiva el blues rock, dejando bien en claro el tema a los entusiastas jóvenes Ingleses.

Aunque no exactamente blues blanco (un tercio del grupo no lo es), las verdaderas estrellas son Butterfield y Bloomfield, que con 23 y 22 años más bien parecen veteranos maestros del blues que dos jovenes aprendices. Lo cierto es que el dominio y seguridad que muestra Butterfield tanto al canto como en la armónica están muy por encima de los típicos cantantes blancos de la época. Mención aparte merece Mike Bloomfield, quizás el guitarrista menos reconocido en la historia del rock. ni Clapton ni Beck tsonaban como Bloomfield en 1965, un guitarrista verdaderamente genial que en los instrumentales Thank You Mr. Poobah y Screamin' y en Blues With A Feeling muestra lo mejor de su talento.

Si John Mayall y compañía se llevaron el crédito en Inglaterra, Paul Butterfield y su banda (gran compañía también) merecen un destacado lugar en la historia por su enorme influencia en el desarrollo del blues y su variante más rock. ... Read more


47. The Complete Early Recordings of Skip James
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Asin: B000000G8L
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 11337
Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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With an unmistakable falsetto delivery, Skip James created some ofhistory's eeriest blues records. His blues sounds dark and mysterious, using odd tunings, structures, and rhythms, and exploring gloomy lyrical themes. Unlike other bluesmen of the day, James's music was personal and bleak, played for his own emotional release and not for purposes of entertainment."Devil Got My Woman," "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues," "Hard Luck Child," and "Special Rider Blues" convey sorrow and misery like few others can. Uptempo numbers such as the classic "I'm So Glad" and "Drunken Spree," which resembles the hillbilly traditional "Late Last Night," showcase his forceful guitar picking while rags "Little Cow and Calf" and the jumpy "How Long 'Buck'" feature his unique piano work.--Marc Greilsamer ... Read more

Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Chills and enchants
The Martin Scorcese documentary has done blues a real service in foregrounding the aloof and elusive Skip James again. He was a great craftsman and a bracingly honest performer and he speaks to universal emotions effortlessly.

If you like your blues grim hopeless and hard then you need this record. The lyrics and singing here are going to blow you away. If you're partial to classical music, let's say Bach, then you are going to find that Skip James comes as close to a Bach fugue or minuet in terms of overall sophistication in his six string playing as I believe has been done - only instead of trying to educate and delight you, Skip James is trying to "stun" you, as he says in the (excellent) linear notes.

This is heavy stuff, and it isn't for everyone. Prolonged listening may leave you feeling slightly...unbalanced. For me, Skip James was one of the most compelling performers the blues produced. A solo acoustic player (there are a few piano cuts on the record but they are considerably less interesting than the acoustic stuff, in my view) in the style of Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon, Blind Willie McTell, early Dylan, etc., he has moments where he makes them all look like little kids.

Like most early blues recordings, the material and themes can get repititious, and the sound quality isn't all that hot, but there are a lot of quality songs here, and at least half of them are good to pretty good, a few are plain transcendent.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Poetry of the Blues (For Real!)
You often hear the phrase "the poetry of the Blues" used by writers to describe certain artists,and while it's (usually) deserved,the case of Skip James is emphatically POETRY.
The deal is this : his stunning guitar mastery AND that bone-chilling falsetto vocal resulted in some of the most enigmatic and hauntingly beautiful Music (irregardless of Blues,Jazz,or whatever) ever committed to phonograph recordings.
I am a Hot Jazz nut who had this material on an early '70s Biograph LP which had so muffled the surface noise as to be akin to hearing the music over a telephone! The digital mastering here is realistic,-face it,Paramount discs were the dirt-cheapest things made on the market,and surviving 78s are in such poor condition as to be FRAGILE beyond description.Unfortunayely,luck would have it that so much stellar music of the time was waxed for a label like Paramount!
That said,the MUSIC herein is nothing short of brilliant;James deserves his reputation as a haunting and evocative artist,that falsetto singing will send a chill up your spine...try to hear "Devil Got My Woman" without the hairs standing on back of your neck...ditto "Cherry Ball Blues"....and there's the virtuoso guitar piece "I'm So Glad" (apologies to Eric Clapton & Cream but they just couldn't touch the original!) and the spiritual songs are lovely (James struggled with the notion of becoming a deacon at one time).
Along with my Jelly Roll Morton CDs,this music is precious to me and I strongly feel that in the case of THIS cd it is possible to give an unconditional gaurantee of satisfaction....BUY IT TODAY!!!
And this IS poetry here,think of Skip as the Coleridge or Dylan Thomas of the Blues,,,yes,I know that's a tall order but its the Godspeed Truth.I do not undersell Robert Johnson (I have HIS cds as well) But James came first and he deserves your love and attention.
God bless you all.Thanks.

4-0 out of 5 stars Eerie, organic, and ancient.
As many have said, this album is a true blues album. Skip's music is raw and early, and is on "the blues timeline" somewhere between slave songs and the blues/bluegrass that emerged in the early 20th century. His singing and wailing remind me most of some of the John and Ruby Lomax collection (parts of which are online), which include the songs that Moby sampled on his "PLAY" album.

Since the recordings were remastered from 78s, the sound quality isn't fabulous, but I haven't really found it to be a problem. If anything, it adds to the experience and makes it more organic -- you're more aware that what you're listening to is and old recording, in a good way.

Most of the songs on this CD sound very similar. True, they're by the same artist, and this is generally true about collections of work. I just found that with this album in particular, many of the songs have similar sounds (are written in the same or adjacent keys, etc.). For that reason, listening to it a few times through seemed to do it for me.

5-0 out of 5 stars 78 remastered edition, take note
The fidelity on this disc is poor due to it being re-masterd from 78's. If you are interested in the historical aspects of his recordings, this is great. If you want to hear better fidelity, Blues from the Delta may be a better choice. Skip James is fantastic!

2-0 out of 5 stars Too much surface noise
Since this cd was made from old 78s there is alot of surface noise that makes it hard to appreciate the excellent music.Sure it has historical value but the later 60s recordings on Vanguard are just as good if not better musically.With todays audio systems the noise is enhanced.Music 5 stars audio 1 star.Buy at your own risk. ... Read more


48. The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
list price: $19.98
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Asin: B0000028QB
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Sales Rank: 5727
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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In the history of recorded blues and spirituals, there is no greater singer and songwriter than Blind Willie Johnson. With a vocal delivery ranging from raw rage to tenderness wedded to his talking guitar, Blind Willie's recordings are as powerful today as when he made them, from 1927 to 1930. Listen to monuments "Motherless Children Have a Hard Time," "I Just Can't Keep from Crying," "It's Nobody's Fault but Mine," and the otherworldly "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground," and try to find equally visceral conviction any other place or time. His "If I Had My Way I'd Tear The Building Down" which got him arrested when Blind Willie unknowingly sang it in front of a U.S. government building in Dallas, became a '60s icon. Years later, he caught pneumonia, but when treatment was sought, he was told the hospital did not treat blind people, so he returned home and died. --Alan Greenberg ... Read more

Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning
The gospel blues singer/guitarist Willie Johnson was as influential as Robert Johnson and this album contains his complete recorded output. Every song on this CD is fantastic but two stand out. "It's Nobody's Fault But Mine" is the greatest piece of slide guitar playing ever recorded by anyone and "Dark Was The Night - Cold Was The Ground" is one of the greatest achievments in the history of any form of American music.

Buy this right now.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Slide Guitarist EVER
These recordings are absolutely essential for anyone interested in Blues, Gospel, or slide guitar. Johnson's command of slide guitar is stunning. His timing and sense of rhythm and cadence are breathtaking. No one--not even Robert Johnson--will raise the hair on the back of your neck like Blind Willie Johnson. Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed, It's Nobody's Fault But Mine, Dark Was the Night--Cold Was the Ground are among my favorites, but every track is powerful and performed with superlative musicianship and incredible complexity for such simple sounding songs. His guitar wizardry, at times understated and subtle, bursts forth like a torrent that will leave you breathless. Make no mistake, you must have this recording. Blind Willie Johnson RULES.

5-0 out of 5 stars Searing
When people blithely gas of bad rock stars "taking risks" with their latest CD filler they don't know the pre-Depression record biz, which sent producers out in the field to capture the latest in country and "race" music. Thanks to this enlightened practice we have the thirty imperishable tracks of Blind Willie Johnson, of whom we know little otherwise, except that he only lived to his forties, and died after a fire. (The cover photo from a Columbia ad is the only one we have of him.) And what music it is -- raw, searing, with an uncompromising vision, sung with a voice that pebbles gravel against the haunting riffs of his slide guitar. I do not know why the twenties blues has such peculiar power -- possibly because so much of it was sung by people who came from nowhere, tragically to go back to nowhere, or maybe it's the sound quality that seems almost sui generis to this music, that muffled sound that lends a certain eloquence and distance not readily explainable. Whatever the case, Blind Willie's isn't everyday music, or music to rest by, but it is music to open your heart, and to make you think.

1-0 out of 5 stars unimaginably hard to listen to
I don't even know where to begin, but this was without a doubt the worst CD I ever bought. I own over 100 blues CD's of various artists A to Z, and this one is the only one I wanted to throw in the trash before I even got through with it. You can not even get to hear the guitar because this mans voice is just absolutely aggravating. I can't even describe it. Is it screaming? But to tell you how I feel, I would rather listen to a jackhammer, or fog horn, going off repeatedly in my living room before I would ever play this CD again. I have to admit, I am no authority here, and I could be quite wrong about this CD, but take my advice for what its worth. And definitely buy something else.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably good
I buy a lot of CD's and most of them disappoint. This music doesn't. It is real, heartfelt, skillfull,inspired, ageless. Someone once said that Robert Johnson would have been scared witless if he bumped into Blind Willie singing on a street corner. Just maybe they are right. Classic American recordings. ... Read more


49. The Best Of Taj Mahal
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Asin: B00004XSUS
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Sales Rank: 3971
Average Customer Review: 4.43 out of 5 stars
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Taj Mahal's been chasing the blues around the world for years, but rarely with the passion, energy, and clarity he brought to his first three albums. Taj Mahal, The Natch'l Blues and The Real Thing are the sound of the artist, who was born in 1942, defining himself and his music. On his self-titled 1967 debut, he not only honors the sound of the Delta masters with his driving National steel guitar and hard vocal shout, but ladles in elements of rock and country with the help of guitarists Ry Cooder and the late Jessie Ed Davis. This approach is reinforced and broadened by The Natch'l Blues. What's most striking is Mahal's way of making even the oldest themes sound as if they're part of a new era. Not just through the vigor of his playing--relentlessly propulsive, yet stripped down compared with the six-string ornamentations of the original masters of country blues--but through his singing, which possesses a knowing insouciance distinct to post-Woodstock counterculture hipsters. It's the voice of an informed young man who knows he's offering something deep to an equally hip and receptive audience.

Soon, Mahal turned his multicultural vision of the blues even further outward. The live 1971 set, The Real Thing, finds him still carrying the Mississippi torch, while adding overt elements of jazz and Afro-Caribbean music to its flame. But it's overreaching. His band sounds under-rehearsed, and the arrangements seem more like rough outlines. Nonetheless, these albums set the stage for Mahal's career. (For a condensed version, try the fine The Best of Taj Mahal.) Today, he continues to make fine fusion albums, like 1999's Kulanjan, with Malian kora master Toumani Diabate, and less exciting but still eclectic recordings with his Phantom Blues Band. --Ted Drozdowski ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Place to Get a Taste
This collection focuses on the very early Taj Mahal and contains most of his early classics. For anyone not familiar with this artist this is a great place to start. You get a full taste of "Taj Mahal", "The Natch'l Blues" and "The Real Thing"(with the tuba band), his first 3 excellent albums, and it is obvious from these how eclectic a blues performer he is. Taj Mahal has always been one of my favorites, and he presented one of the best live shows I have ever seen. He is touring this summer so check him out if you get a chance, and delve deeply into the rest of his recorded material, particularly "Senor Blues".

5-0 out of 5 stars What A Find!
I had heard the name Taj Mahal over the years but never took the time to investigate his music. Then one day I heard the song "Fishing Blues" on the radio and it sparked my interest. When I saw that he had this "Best Of..." collection I figured I'd take a chance, I haven't stopped playing it since then. What a find, this is great music! Every track on this cd touched me in some way. Songs like "Statesboro Blues", "Leaving Trunk", and "She Caught The Katy" are gritty, bluesy, and soulful. Taj sings with a voice that was made for the blues, and plays a mean harmonica to boot.
Aside from the songs on this collection that really cook, there are others that seem to transend the blues and create a different feeling. "Corinna", "Take A Giant Step" and "Johnny Too Bad" are more thoughtful and laid back, making for a good mix of tempos'. All in all this is a collection of incredible music from a great artist,and track for track, it's one of the best albums I have ever purchased.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Summary
I absolutely agree that one should own the box set, but this disc is worth owning alone for "Chevrolet." That song really gets me going, and I play it for my wife all the time to let her know how I feel. This disc will only fuel your longing for more taj mahal, so get it and save up for the box set!! If you get the chance check out the grammy-winning "Shouting in Key." That is the best disc of all.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good But Not The Best!
Taj has become the torchbearer of the blues and, over the years, has developed a very large following and a comprehensive catalog of releases. In order to put this recording into prospective it's necessary to look at what is here. What you find on this disc is a collection of some very fine material dating from 1967 to 1974. So, while the material may be the best of Taj for that period, and that is debatable, it would be unfair to Taj and to his fans to call this a collection of his best works. Anything short of a box set could not possibly cover the broad array of excellent releases put out by this individual. That being said, the reproduction of "Leaving Trunk" and "Corinna" are not of the best quality. However, the rest of the CD is a good representative sample of Taj's early releases. While I would encourage individuals to buy this disc, I feel a certain obligation to the man that has produced so many quality songs over the past 30 plus years to also suggest the box set "In Progress & In Motion".

4-0 out of 5 stars refreshing
this album was a refreshing taste of blues history for me. It was my first Taj Mahal album and I love it. The songs, Leaving Trunk, Corrina, Further On Down The Road, and Take a Giant Step are all beautifully written and performed. If you are a blues fan you will not be disappointed with this album. ... Read more


50. Etta Baker With Taj Mahal
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Asin: B0006419LO
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Sales Rank: 12403
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51. The Very Best Of Dr. John
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Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 3079
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (8)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not the best of compilation I would have made
It's always going to be the case that when someone puts out a best of compilation of an artist you really dig, the opinion on which songs should have been included and not is always going to be a question. Where is 'Life', 'Traveling Mood', and 'Just the Same' all off his classic album - In The Right Place? What about 'Blow Wind Blow', 'Tipitina' or 'Somebody Changed The Lock' not to mention others from Gumbo? I don't think this compilation is compiled all that well, but what are you going to do, everyone has their favorites. Dr john is a legend. Buy Gumbo, In the Right Place, Gris Gris, and anything the man is releasing because he's still got it. So three stars although it hurts me to do so.

5-0 out of 5 stars THE AMBASSADOR OF NEW ORLEANS: DR. JOHN
Dr John (aka Mac Renneback) has helped popularize the many exciting sounds of New Orleans over the years. This collection shows what makes Dr John a special performer. The gumbo of styles that make New Orleans music so joyful are expertly rendered by the good Doctor's peppery piano and bluesy vocals. From his funky classic hit Right Place, Wrong Time to the pyschedelic voodoo classic Walk on Gildeded Splinters, there is not a weak track here. One could quibble that some of the songs covered here are done better by their originators, but these are all fine performances. Use this as a springboard to discover more of the great more artists that have made New Orleans a musical capital such as The Meters, Professor Longhair, etc. Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars the man!!
this man can do everything!to the funky "right place,wrong time" ,on to the new orleans flavor hit,"such a night"& other goodies is well worth getting this album for!go get it everyone!j.h.

4-0 out of 5 stars WOW, great stuff
I'm listening to Dr. John on the iPod, and thought I should offer a review. I haven't ever heard anything of Dr. John before I purchased this disc, and I must say it was surely a great place to start. I really enjoy this music and the approach to lively fun music here. I lent the CD to my mom and she hasn't given it back! Good thing I have an iPod, but anyways, you won't go wrong with this CD, no matter what music you like.

4-0 out of 5 stars It's party time!
Part New Orleans party music and part Tin Pan Alley, the music of Dr. John is a potpourri of influences; never quite true to any one sound. This collection shows the popular side of his career with his few hits ("Right Place, Wrong Time" "Such A Night") and many other worthwhile tunes, all played with Dr. John's panache. While Dr. John may never be confused with the all-time greats, he definitely has his own place in music history and this CD does a fine job of capturing the many facets of his varied career. ... Read more


52. The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James
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Asin: B0000032Z0
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Sales Rank: 7257
Average Customer Review: 4.93 out of 5 stars
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Other post-WWII Chicago bluesmen are better known, but the work of Elmore James holds up as well as any of theirs. If he never had the technical accomplishment of, say, Earl Hooker, he did have as much depth of emotional expression as Muddy Waters; just listen to the sweetness of "I Need You" or the pain of "It Hurts Me, Too." The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James contains some of the most important work of a man who still reigns as the king of slide guitar; anyone who wears a bottleneck today owes a debt to James. Highlights include Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom," which James made his signature tune, as well as the title track, which contains some of the sweetest licks in blues history. --Genevieve Williams ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best choice for an introduction to Elmore's music
This CD is great because it draws together the major works Elmore performed for the various labels he graced in the 50s and 60s -- The Bihari Brother's Modern/Flair; Phil & Leonard Chess's Chess Records, Bobby London's tiny Chief label, and Bobby Robinson's Fire/Fury/Enjoy unit. Also included is Elmore's very first, and in some ways most characteristic, recording of "Dust My Broom" for the Trumpet label in Jackson, MS. This set beautifully traces Elmore's evolution from a countrified blues shouter with a bottleneck style to a Chicago bluesman with a sophisticated band (which stuck with him without major changes from 1952 until the early 1960s). His screaming slide guitar is already evident in some of the early Flairs -- like Hawaiian Boogie and I Can't Hold Out. The raw intensity of his vocal work is no better highlighted than on Look On Yonder Wall and Something Inside Me. My only complaint is that no example of his Chicago/Jump blues style is present, something like "Make My Dreams Come True" (which B.B.King copied note for note to get a #1 R&B hit in 1953). But, c'est la vie. There is noone else in the blues fields who combined the searing intensity of virtuoso guitar work and the scathing vocal style fused into that intense package of sound made only by Elmore James. This sound cannot help but be recognized in seconds by anyone with a passing acquaintanceship with classic electric blues. This is the REAL stuff. For my money, Elmore beats Muddy, Wolf, Sonny Boy and the rest because, with Elmore, you get higher quality guitar, and the sound of the music is guttier and closer to the bone. And, it helps that Elmore's musicians are arguably the best that Chicago had to offer (the only other aggregation that compares is the Muddy Waters band of the mid-50s.)Don't miss this if you like Blues.

5-0 out of 5 stars King of the Slide Guitar
Elmore James, in my humble opinion, is the most underrated blues guitarist of all time. He took what he learned from listening to Robert Johnson, plugged it into an electric guitar, and blew the roof off the blues world! The opening to Johnson's "Dust my Broom" is probably the coolest blues guitar riff known to man. In short, Elmore rules!

5-0 out of 5 stars Enough Elmore for all but the most serious collectors.
Elmore James was on at least a few labels, so it's not that too hard to dig up lots more if you want to, but for most of us, this is a whole lot of great blues from one of the most talented and important artists. For some strange reason , not nearly enough guys out there now are playing this slide style now. To check out a modern-day Elmore, still playing the joints, look for Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials.

5-0 out of 5 stars See also; Earl Hooker
Easily, the best Elmore James compilation!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection of some of the Best Blues Ever
With the success of "Dust My Broom", Elmore James found himself recording numerous "varients" of this masterpiece due to its proven commercial appeal. Thus, many collections of Elmore James sound like the same song over and over again.

Such a collection of "Dust My Broom" variations would rate a 4-star rating. However, this collection shows that James was certainly no one-hit wonder, with a broad range of guitar playing and singing talent. For those keeping score, there are about 4-5 "Dust My Broom" variations in this collection.

Elmore James is becoming discovered as one of the great bluemen, and this collection makes it pretty clear why. ... Read more


53. Standards
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Asin: B0000063E0
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1619
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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This CD is the perfect gift for someone (perhaps a new friend from Mars) who has never heard Ray Charles. With tracks such as "Georgia on my Mind," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Without a Song," "Ruby," "Ol' Man River," and "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," this is a feast of vintage artistry from one of America's premier performers, a man Frank Sinatra called "the only genius in the business." Featured musicians include Basie and Ellington veterans. For a one-volume presentation of popular music, this collection is hard to top. --Stanley Booth ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Here To Stay
Popular music just doesn't get any better than this--"the Genius" not merely interpreting but re-creating some of the last century's greatest songs. What Ray does with these standards is pure alchemy. Here you'll find not only the definitive version of Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind" but also probably the best recorded versions of Harold Arlen's "Come Rain or Come Shine" and Gershwin's last song, "Love Is Here To Stay". Considering the competition out there (Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, etc.) it's nearly unbelievable that Ray is able to make so many of these great songs *his*--but there it is.

The album would really be more than worth the price for the three above-mentioned songs alone, but you also get other such outstanding performances as "It Had To Be You", "Am I Blue", "Ruby", "Stella by Starlight", "That Lucky Old Sun", "Willow, Weep for Me", and an absolutely terrific, smile-on-your-face version of Richard Rodgers' "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'". (Amazing that such a classic recording was made in 1977 at the same time as the punk invasion and the disco craze.) Ray's "Ol' Man River" isn't the powerhouse that William Warfield's incredible recording is, but it's another standout, mournful and full of soul.

It's impossible to categorize the music on this album--it's a perfect blend of classic pop, jazz, and r&b. Like Ellington or Gershwin, Ray Charles is simply "beyond category", an American original. His voice is of course an absolute marvel--soulful, sandpapery, moving effortlessly from the heartrending to the exhilarating. His range of shadings and expression is like that of a great jazz instrumentalist. And you have to love his little additional touches, like the sly "ha-ha" toward the end of "Beautiful Mornin'". His innate talent is just beyond belief and totally unique, and here he gets to exercise it on some truly first-class lyrics and melodies.

The arrangements can superficially sound a little dated, but the more you listen to these recordings, the more integral they become. The ones for the earlier tracks provided by Ralph Burns (who had worked for Woody Herman) are particularly good. The bands play very well, and the instruments sometimes blend perfectly with Ray's voice to create expressive effects, notably the "dirty" sounds on "Come Rain or Come Shine". And Ray's piano playing (I do wish he cut loose with it a little more!) shines on "Love Is Here To Stay", simply one of the all-time great interpretations of a standard.

A great collection, full of joyful, inspired music-making.

4-0 out of 5 stars You Can't Go Wrong With Ray
What can I say about Ray Charles? As much as I really enjoy his original songs, he has a way of taking standards and making them his own. There is something about his voice that is so amazing that I cannot do anything else while listening to him--I just have to sit back and give him my full attention. Ray's version of That Lucky Old Sun is worth the price of the CD. It is so beautiful and moving that it chills me to my very soul. You won't regret buying this CD. It will further help you appreciate some already great songs.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mellow collection of ballads from Ray's prime...
This would be a great way to introduce somebody to Ray's distinctive voice and style, especially a person who might not respond to his '50's R&B sides at first. Can't fault Ray's work here, but some tracks have "backing vocals" popular in the late '50's which really don't suit today's tastes. Look at the song list, read some other reviews, search your budget. Everybody needs at least one Charles disc in the collection, and this is a good choice. Ray's version of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from "Oklahoma" will make you sit up and take notice, and most of the other songs are worth hearing many times more than once.

5-0 out of 5 stars Has to be 5 stars for Brother Ray
These are some of his early cuts,and if you think you have heard Ol' Man River,you haven't until you hear it sung by the Master.All of these cuts are perfect.Buy this.You already know you love him,anyway!

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Fine, Unique Ray Effort. I just don't give five stars..
to many Pop Music CD's, unless they have a special uniqueness,wonderousness, so I may be a stingy reviewer. Also, I'm not that hooked by his raspy vocal style. But this is still my favorite Ray album,mainly since it has top of the line songs,some of which are not over-recorded. MARGIE and LUCKY OLD SUN are both terrific, and his famous GEORGIA ON MY MIND and RUBY also still sound fine. Most of the others have been done better by others (especially Sinatra,Armstrong,even Chad and Jeremy). And the final melody, OH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING, is one every Boomer probably knew as a kid, but this version puts it well beyond the standard Broadway show-tune(from OKLAHOMA). Hard to belive there are so few reviews of this CD, close to an essential record!! BTW, some informative linear are included too! ... Read more


54. Guitarded
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Asin: B0002QI626
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 23918
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Album Description

Founding member of Mountain releases his 2004 solo album with help from Gregg Allman, Poppa Chubby, Leo Lyons, Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple), and more. Includes a cover of the Rolling Stones' 'Honky Tonk Woman' and a previously unreleased Mountain song entitled 'The Cell'. Voiceprint. 2004. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Been there-done that!
I agree with "Joe" in that most of these tracks have been released on other albums over the years. If you want new Leslie West material buy "Blues to die for" which is a really good album.

4-0 out of 5 stars ARE THESE NEW RECORDINGS???
First of all, let me say that I've been a huge fan of Leslie's since the Woodstock album and his first Mountain album...Leslie and his Gibson guitars...man, he had THE tone.As far as this cd goes, I'm not really sure what's going on here.I already have 10 of the 13 songs on previous Leslie West cd's...and I believe that 9 of the 10 are the exact same versions.The only songs on this release that I didn't already have are "If Heartaches Were Nickels"(a decent song), a cover of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" (oh, so awful drum machine!) and George Harrison's "Old Brown Shoe" (a good job on this one).If somebody out there close to Leslie reads this, PLEASE hide all of his guitars that have a tremolo unit on it and please hide that guitar processor that he's been using lately.These items are made for people who WISH they could have Leslie's sound, not for Leslie himself.In summation, it's a must-have for Leslie West fans, but I don't know if this is supposed to be a compilation cd or not (the All Music Guide does not list it as a compilation).

5-0 out of 5 stars What's Gotten Into This Man?
Leslie West must have gone down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil. He's certainly playing and singing like a man possessed. His guitar roars throughout this entire album and his demonic growl is in fine form. Never mind the guest stars, they pale in comparison to the man himself. Leslie West is pure energy, he is the soul of blues and rock and roll and he's putting out stuff equal to or surpassing a lot of his Mountain work. Check out "Cross Cut Saw", "Honky Tonk Woman" and "Stormy Monday". Those are just a few of the delicious side dishes that comprise the feast known as "Guitarded". Bon Appetit!

3-0 out of 5 stars Leslie West is back
It's funny to hear that the old goat is back and he's still alive and kickin'. Lots of guitars as allways. Good sound and it's a typically leslie west album. Good songs and performance. a must for all his fans of course. ... Read more


55. Buddy's Baddest: The Best Of Buddy Guy
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Asin: B00000J6BA
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 4345
Average Customer Review: 4.77 out of 5 stars
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The title's baloney. Sure, some of Buddy Guy's most blistering guitar playing has been captured on his '90s recordings for Silvertone, but with albums like Muddy Waters's 1964 Folk Singer and his own 1967 solo debut A Man & the Blues on his résumé, Guy's status as a Chicago blues giant was assured long before his 1991 comeback Damn Right, I've Got the Blues. Nonetheless, that tune, the instrumental tribute "Remembering Stevie" (for the late guitar-slinger Vaughan), "Five Long Years," and the previously unissued "Miss Ida B" testify that at age 65 Guy still possesses rare depth and fire. His singing is big and soulful, capable of cheerleading a party or hurtling down to the depths of Delta blues heartache. His six-stringing remains wildly inventive and unpredictable, even on slight numbers like "She's a Superstar." And the inclusion of blatant stabs at the pop charts such as his "Midnight Train" duet with Jonny Lang take nothing away from the passion he puts into true blues performances like "I Need Your Love So Bad" and "Innocent Man," leftovers from earlier sessions that surface here. Baddest or not, this CD spotlights one of our greatest bluesmen in fine form. --Ted Drozdowski ... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Buddy is the baddest!!!
To the fan from Vienna, VA: Buddy is not in his 70's. Actually, as of the date I'm writing this, he is 63. Regardless, no one I've ever seen packs as much energy into a live performance as Mr. Guy. And I recommend to anyone who hasn't seen him live, do it before it's too late. He truly is the master!!

Anyway, about this CD. It is a compilation of some of best tracks off his Silvertone recordings of the 90's, plus 5 previously unreleased tracks. Definitely for the more casual fan, who doesn't own "Damn Right I've Got the Blues", "Feels Like Rain", "Slippin' In"(the best of the individual studio Silvertone recordings), and "Heavy Love". Also with the Silvertone label, Buddy released a live album w/the Saturday Live Band called "The Real Deal". The only track on "Buddy's Baddest" from "The Real Deal" is "Let Me Love You". "The Real Deal" is definitely worth buying separate because live is how Mr. Guy is meant to be heard.

Overall, I would say "Buddy's Baddest" is a good introduction to Buddy Guy. If you love it, then follow up with "The Real Deal", the individual Silvertone recordings, "Stone Crazy", and "DJ Play My Blues". Also, you can't go wrong with "Live at Montreaux" or "Drinking TNT and Smoking Dynamite"(better), both live recordings with harmonica legend Jr. Wells.....Enjoy!

3-0 out of 5 stars The best of Buddy Guy? Not likely
This overview of Buddy Guy's Silvertone recordings ought to be titled "Some of the best of Buddy Guy's 90s tunes, and a few throwaways as well", or something along those lines.

The first ten songs are almost all good, but the four previously unreleased songs aren't among Guy's best work, and since almost all of the previously released material here is taken from just three albums, there is really no good reason to pick up this mediocre sampler. Go with "Damn Right I've Got The Blues" and "Slippin' In" instead, and perhaps the "Feels Like Rain" album, from which "She's Nineteen Years Old" and of course "Feels Like Rain" are taken.
Only one track comes from the forgettable "Heavy Love", which is actually a credit to the compilers, and the last one, the live "My Time After Awhile", is from "Live: The Real Deal".

If you want an overview of Buddy Guy's career prior to his 90s comeback, go for Rhino Records' excellent "The Very Best Of Buddy Guy", or check out the best of his classic Chess singles on MCA/Chess' "Buddy's Blues". This is a decent sampler, but considering that it only spans four studio albums, one of which is bland at best, it is not really that much of a necessity.

5-0 out of 5 stars could have been more tracks
this cd is a great starter for anyone who is just getting into great blues music (i have been into blues for about 12years) and enjoy everything that buddy guy has recorded. this cd should have contained more tracks, alot of great songs missing on this cd. i give it 5 stars anyway.

5-0 out of 5 stars Baddest? Best!!!
This album will show you a man that is blues, blues and nothing but blues! Blues comes out his feet, his fingers, from every vain the man has in his whole body! This album is a good way to start if you want to dive into Buddy Guys world of the blues and blues as a whole. Guy combines various blues styles to one, very much his own style. That makes him a true living legend, and I am sure that if you buy this album you're soon will buy the original ones as well!

4-0 out of 5 stars good collection
of course with greatest hits there are always songs that you feel of great that are left off. the cd kicks off with" damn right ive got the blues" to five long years. good thing that there are three unreleased songs on the cd is why i brought it. good starter cd for any new fans ... Read more


56. Original Delta Blues
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Asin: B000007T4P
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 4364
Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars
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This Columbia Legacy reissue of the 1965 release is one of the few recordings available of one of the blues' founding fathers. It contains some of his best songs, which have unsurprisingly become classics of the Delta blues genre: "Death Letter," "Preachin' Blues," "Levee Camp Moan," "Pony Blues," and "Downhearted Blues" are all here. Though not as comprehensive as Father of the Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Sessions, this CD is an excellent introduction to this seminal artist's work, revealing the creativity, passion, skillful guitar playing, and rich singing that helped form a whole new kind of music. --Genevieve Williams ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars texace on the Original Delta Blues - Son House
The is the real deal. Put this on your cd player with Bukka White, Walter Jacobs, Frank Frost, Muddy, Elmore James on random play and sit back. It don't get no better than this. Born and raised on piney woods and cajun rice between Leesville and Ville Platte, Louisiana in the 50's. Son House is in the same league with Bukka White.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not just blues, a history lesson
The more I study the forces that bound together the deeply American, and beautifully unique cultures of African Americans since the Civil War, I find myself referring to the Blues more and more. Son House, despite this recording being made in the 1960's, was a master story teller of an earlier era for the Southern United States; one divided by a still-bitter southern aristocracy and a young culture of black Americans struggling to write their own poetry that would come to define what it is to be a free black American. Son House influenced greats like Robert Johnson, another great story-teller, and more popularly driven Muddy Waters and others. I, like so many others, love to listen to blues guitar, and House plays one of the meanest, dirtiest, most hauntingly beautiful slide guitars ever recorded. However, listen to the man, and the story he is telling all of us with each sentence of every song. THIS is culture. THIS is history. THIS is the Blues. Accept no substitutes....you might just learn a thing or two.

5-0 out of 5 stars Raw and captivating - voice of lonely soul
There is so much built on blues out there, so much derived from it, that it is easy to forget where it all began. Son House is so raw, so unaffected by technical tricks or crafty ideas, so far from any pose, pretence or stereotypical imagery of show business that you feel actually privileged to be allowed to come into contact with his singing.

It is like entering an empty temple in an unfamiliar country: you have seen some of the signs, you have some of the knowledge about the faith, but the experience is new and humbling.

Yes, humbling is the word. If loneliness had a voice, it would be the voice of Son House.

5-0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet
Well, maybe "sweet" isn't the right word, but Columbia/Legacy's "The Original Delta Blues" is a really fine distillation of the label's double-disc set "Father Of The Delta Blues", containing 11 highlights from that comprehensive overview of blues legend Eddie "Son" House's 60s recordings.

These 55 minutes of music feature Son House and his National steel guitar, which he played with a slide, and Columbia have managed to include all of House's essential 60s songs.

The powerful a capella spiritual "John The Revelator" is here, as is the slashing slide guitar workout "Pearline", the sarcastic "Preachin' Blues", the bitterness of "Grinnin' In Your Face", and the fantastic 9½-minute "Levee Camp Moan" with Canned Heat's Alan Wilson playing great harmonica fills behind House's clanging, percussive guitar playing.

And then there's the awesome, razor-edged "Death Letter" ("I got a letter this morning / say, what d'y'reckon it read? / Said hurry, hurry, 'cause the gal you love is dead").
Music journalist Ted Drozdowski of the Boston Phoenix once wrote something like this about House:
"The voice of the great Son House not only sounds as though it could split the earth asunder, it is also the voice of a soul utterly alone".

I couldn't have said it better myself. Which is why I steal Mr Drozdowski's line.

4-0 out of 5 stars the master of the delta blues style
Son House taught Robert Johnson the slide blues. Son House taught Muddy Waters. When Son House started performing at Blues festivals again in the mid 1960s, Muddy Waters would tell all his band members to be quiet and pay attention when the man played because even compared with Muddy, this was the real deal.
Son House is the real deal. Listen and learn ... Read more


57. One-Dime Blues
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Asin: B0000002ZG
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 26487
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars More people should know her story.
I grew up in Morganton, NC, Etta Baker's hometown. My mother worked in a textile plant called Skyland, sewing sleeves and tags on t-shirts, where Mrs. Baker worked as the janitor -- for many, many years. Mom says she is one of the sweetest, kindest people you could ever hope to know. Here's her story as I understand it: she was a well-regarded musician in the 1920's at social functions and clubs in the south, but when she married, her husband demanded that she abandon that lifestyle for a more familiar, traditional one. From that point on, until he passed on some 60 years later, she only played at home and at some family functions. Once he passed and she retired, she began to play publicly again and, of course, astonished everyone within earshot. I think Mrs. Bakers's music touches me because of the depth of context in her sound. The structure and influence of the music are unmistakably traditional blues (with a little Appalachain bluegrass mixed in), but instead of the "down-and-out" plot so typical of the blues, she turns heartache and sacrifice into hope, spring, sunshine and victory. I can hear this in her playing, and I know it mirrors her life. I catch myself wondering what might have been, but find solace in the something small - Etta Baker spent those "lost years" at a place called Skyland, a fitting name for a place that hosted at least two angels. I think Mrs. Baker would understand. I know my mom does.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Favourite cd EVER!
I had One Dime Blues on a cassette. It got lost. For several years I was lost. Now I have it on cd and my life is back on track. This music makes me feel happy and brave and glad to be alive. Etta Baker plays the best guitar I've ever heard.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply breathtaking
This CD would be amongst the 10 CD's for the famous desert island, i would be allowed to take with. Straight from the heart, warm and earthy, one of the best guitar player i ever heard, and believe me, i heard a lot. ... Read more


58. His Best
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Asin: B000005KQN
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 11245
Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
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This is Sonny Boy Williamson II, whose 1940s Mississippi Delta radio broadcasts for King Biscuit Time made him one of the most influential of all blues musicians. A master harmonica player, he created relaxed songs, often humorous, that reminded urban listeners of their country roots. These tracks are from his years at Chess, beginning in the mid-1950s until his death in 1965. His recording bands feature Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, and Robert Lockwood Jr., among others. Perhaps his best-known track here is "Don't Start Me to Talkin' (I'll Tell You Everything I Know)," but his signature sound is evident on every high trill he played. --Robert Gordon ... Read more

Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars A fine place to start
This great collection brings most of Aleck "Rice" Miller's best songs together on a single disc, and it is highly recommended if you're relatively new to Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson II).
The songs are simply excellent. Raw, gritty blues, clever lyrics and backing bands that include Muddy Waters, Robert "Jr." Lockwood and Buddy Guy. And of course Miller's instantly recognizable rasp of a voice.

However, if you already have his debut LP, "Down And Out Blues", or know enough about Miller to want a lot of the really good stuff in one place, may I suggest the 45-track "The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson", also from MCA/Chess, instead.
It has more than twice as many songs, yet does not resort to "filler", and that one is the definitive Rice Miller-collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars His best .Sonny Boy Williamson
if you could only pick one CD to show as an example of his work this is it

5-0 out of 5 stars A CD You Must Have In Your Collection!
This CD is a must have for anybody that seriously follows the blues. The songs featured here are all taken from recording from the last ten years of Sonny Boy's life. Sonny Boy died in May of 1965. Considering the age of these recordings, many in the 1950's, the sound is remarkably clear. Nineteen of the twenty songs here were penned, at least in part, by Sonny Boy himself. The long exception is "Bring It On Home" which was written by Willie Dixon. The first few songs feature a dream team band lineup consisting of Otis Spann on piano, Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Willie Dixon on bass and Fred Below on drums. The music is nothing short of excellent. Replacing Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers on the guitar for most of the remainder of the tracks is Robert Lockwood although Matt Murphy and Buddy Guy make appearances on two of the tracks. Only complaint, it's to short. 20 songs but only 56:16 minutes. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars essential stuff
Sonny Boy Williamson II (aka Rice Miller) was no easy fellow to deal with. A paranoid, hard drinking womaniser and, as some say, a lying thief(He stole his name from Sonny Boy Williamson I, aka John Lee Williamson, afterwards always proclaiming to people he was the first to carry it.) Coincidently, he was also a marvellous songwriter and harmonica player, a supreme chronicler of human emotions and a master of irony and understated wit. He became famous with the "King Biscuit Time" radio show in the early forties and started recording with the Trumpet label soon after. He was the last of the four blues greats to join the Chess label and he was also the first to leave. (Unfortunately, in a coffin that is.)

During his relatively short period with Chess he created an oeuvre containing enough heartbreak to make any man miserable. Song after song, love is the hellhound on his trail. As he reminisces about things and times he has tried his best to forget about, memories that hunt him like a curse, he keeps falling for the wrong women, always finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He just can't seem to help himself. The wonderful music that runs beneath these hard luck stories is perfectly timed but loose as a screw. You can almost visualize the bouncing of the beat.

There's isn't one song I can single out as his greatest achievement, you will simply need to hear them all to get the complete picture.(...and yes, that's a hint ;-))

5-0 out of 5 stars Holy Harping, Batman!
If you are already a blues or a harp aficionado, you know who Sonny Boy Williamson is and you know he's great. Let me just add that this is a great collection and a very high quality recording at a great price. If you're looking for the highlights of Sonny Boy's work, this is it.

Maybe you don't know so much about him. Maybe you're new to the blues, or you're learning to play the harmonica, and you're thinking about buying this CD. You should buy it, because:

1. It's great blues, in classic form, with an excellent band fronted by a blues legend. Sonny Boy should be on your shelf for the same reasons that Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson should be there.

2. It's great harp playing. Maybe you're just learning the harmonica, and you've figured out how to play "Camptown Ladies" and "You Are My Sunshine," but now you're stuck and you feel like the harmonica is a dead end. Listen to this guy, and hear what a simple ten-hole diatonic harmonica can do, played cross-harp. Great stuff. ... Read more


59. Sometime Tuesday Morning
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Asin: B00005JJ04
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 9483
Average Customer Review: 4.85 out of 5 stars
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A veteran of long years on the Boston club scene and a stint as sideman to former J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf, guitarist Johnny A. originally self-released this masterful, tasteful solo record to much local acclaim, and then guitar ace Steve Vai added the musician to the roster of his label. Proving that the term "guitar god" has too often been misapplied in the post-Van Halen era of diddly-squeak school of soloing, Johnny A. draws on a more classic pantheon of American fret deity for inspiration, including Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, James Burton, Nokie Edwards, and Wes Montgomery. And like the late Danny Gatton (whom the musician's fiery solos recall), Johnny's years as a sideman have taught him the importance of space and dynamics. The smoky, moody title track sets the tone. While his choice of covers (the Beatles' "Yes It Is," Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman," and the Ventures' signature "Walk, Don't Run") underscore his restraint, the guitarist proves his overdrive can burn with the best of them on "Two Wheel Horse," "In the Wind," and the rockabilly kicker "Up in the Attic." --Jerry McCulley ... Read more

Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars Johnny A. has done the impossible
Namely, delivered a CD with guitar playing that is so fresh, so technically adept, and so moving that I was left slack-jawed in awe and beaming in delight. If this were an LP, I would play it so much the grooves would be white from wear.

Johnny's playing is incredibly efficient -- he never fills or distorts to be showy -- each riff, modulation, or effect is used for a welcome musical communication. Don't think that is a product of an inability to smoke the strings, he can and will do that when the music calls for it. And, when he does, you are left shaking your head thinking 'Did I just hear him play that?'

The musical styles on this CD defy classification, but you will definitely find hints of blues, rock, funk, rockabilly, country and jazz. Rather than make one track follow one style, Johnny masterfully blends styles on a single track to form his own, unique form of guitar expression. The comparisons to Danny Gatton are inevitable, but, I think, off-base. Johnny chooses to play with far less gain, allowing you to experience the subtle tricks he plays with the strings. He has a way of making a truly impossible-to-play riff sound effortless (more like Freddie King in that regard). Bottom line is that any comparison will be fun to make for the sake of discussion, but will be off the mark. This guy is a unique talent.

As far as tone goes, guitar fans will love this disc. If you think that Les Paul himself doesn't have a copy of this CD, you'd probably be wrong. The sound of the humbuckers through that Marshall is pure, throaty and fluid.

I enjoy listening to every track on this CD, and have listened to it over and over again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cool, smooth and approachable!
Upon hearing this disc I knew two things immediately, a) I had to buy a copy, b) I had to see the act live. I have now enjoyed five performances by Johnny A's. Band. While I find the record to be very impressive and enjoyable (over and over again) you must see the act live to gain a total appreciation of this man's craft. I am also anxiously awaiting the follow up album; I know it will be worth the wait! He played a few tunes on the upcoming album during his last performance, simply stunning! He also covers Johnny Rivers: Memphis and it simply left me awe struck; he expanded that very nice ' Rivers' riff, wow! Johnny also does a killer Hendrix medley these aren't simply covers these are more like tributes. I don't know if either of these gems will be on the album, but I sure hope so. Lucky to have a club here in Vermont that Johnny frequents often!

I'm not a guitar player but I do love guitar music! I've feasted on this album for a few years and never tire of it. Keep em' coming Johnny and I'll see you in Natick, MA in May '03' !

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Guitar Playing
I heard this album yesterday. I was so taken by the Music Artistry. Johnny A has it for certain.

I rate the Guitar Artistry of Johnny A along side the Guitar Mastery of Chet Atkins and Pat Matheny.

Robert Lee Johnson

5-0 out of 5 stars A real smoothie
Writing a music/guitar album is very hard. It's very difficult not to make your songs soung like their all the same or just some kind of extended jam session. Not only does Johnny A gives the songs identity he gives them a great jazz/blues feel. I had the fortune of catching him live with B.B. King. It was the first time I heard him play and he was worth the price of addmission. This cd is a great repersentation of his music.

4-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing - Just Guitar!
The only reason I didn't give this CD 5 stars is because there were a couple remakes of old songs I never liked to begin with - but, that's just me. With that exception, I'll say BUY IT. This CD is refreshing because it's just fabulous guitar music. No lyrics to spoil the pureness of exquisite picking. Johnny A. transitions from blues to jazz to country (even some slide in there) flawlessly. Here's a CD you'll listen to over and over and hum the tunes when you're not listening to it. ... Read more


60. The Rough Guide to Bottleneck Blues
list price: $14.98
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Asin: B0007YNRPE
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