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21. Doctors, Professors, Kings &
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22. B.B. King - Greatest Hits
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23. His Best : The Chess 50th Anniversary
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24. Live at the Regal
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25. Down in the Basement: Joe Bussard's
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26. Paul Butterfield Blues Band
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27. The Complete Early Recordings
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28. The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
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29. The Sky Is Crying: The History
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30. Wander This World
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31. Choo Choo Boogaloo
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32. Buddy's Baddest: The Best Of Buddy
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33. Original Delta Blues
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34. His Best
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35. From the Cradle
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36. I'm a Bluesman
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37. Sanctuary
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38. West Side Soul
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39. Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double
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40. Anthology of American Folk Music

21. Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans
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Asin: B0002RUPGU
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 596
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Amazon.com

The producers of The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans claim it to be the first box set to cover the full range of music from the Crescent City--from R&B to jazz, from zydeco to funk. Indeed, this handsome four-disc collection ranges through the decades and the neighborhoods of America's first city of music, which has both pluses and minuses. Yes, it's a joy to bask in the diversity of the New Orleans sound. From Louis Armstrong to the Meters, Little Richard to Pete Fountain, Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens scrambles to include a little something from a whole lot of native sons and daughters among its 85 selections. Problems, however, do arise. At times the sequencing can be jarring, as when Troy Andrews's raucous take on "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" gives way to the modern blues-rock ofSonny Landreth's "South of I-10." The obscurities here are great fun, but, given the city's rich history, they skew too heavily toward more recent releases. Still, there's much to be enjoyed here, from the photo-packed 82-page booklet to the mix of classics and hidden treasures that populate the discs. Not definitive, perhaps, but definitely delightful. --Steven Stolder ... Read more


22. 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


23. 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


24. 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


25. 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


26. Paul Butterfield Blues Band
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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


27. 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


28. The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
list price: $19.98
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Asin: B0000028QB
Catlog: Music
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


29. The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James
list price: $9.98
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Asin: B0000032Z0
Catlog: Music
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


30. Wander This World
list price: $13.98
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Asin: B00000DBXX
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 5191
Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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One would think that jumping into the pop-rock marketplace after being branded a blues player might confuse a 17-year-old guitar whiz. No way. Jonny Lang, with the lucid advice of ace producer David Z, understands the role of the blues as solid ground for someone who wants to take flight with intelligent, well-crafted music that has a wide audience. His second album's strengths lie with his gruffly appealing singing voice and his lean, razor-edged guitar phrases. The material is solid, with songs that range stylistically from the ingratiating funk number "I Am" (a hitherto unrecorded David Z and Prince composition), to the it-sure-sounds-like-a-rock-hit "Still Rainin'" (complete with thunderous chords and soulful female backup singers), to a griddle-hot take on the late Chicago blues guitarist Luther Allison's "Cherry Red Wine." All 12 songs are of a piece, tied together by Lang's unassailable musical integrity and his freshness of vision. And R&B master guitarist Steve Cropper is on hand in the Minneapolis recording studio to insure the soulful vibe. --Frank- John Hadley ... Read more

Reviews (157)

5-0 out of 5 stars A BLUES LEGEND IN THE MAKING!!
After hearing Lie to Me, I was hooked. The song Still Rainin' was a good song to make a single, but I also like some others on the CD. I love Breakin' Me and Leaving to Stay mostly because they are different from his other hard-rock songs. I also bought the Kid Jonny Lang and the Big Bang CD, and I was surprised. I thought since the songs were made a long time ago he would sound like the lost Hanson brother, but I was wrong. Jonny is an amazing talent and I can't wait to hear some great new tunes. Keep up the great work, Jonny!! P.S.-If you ever get a chance to go see him in concert, definitely go because he sure puts on a great show!

3-0 out of 5 stars Getting a lot better, but not quite there yet...
When I first heard "Still Rainin'" on the radio this summer I thought it was pretty good, seeing as how Lang himself doesn't write most of his own songs. I know a lot of people are really in love with this guy, and that's fine, but I personally don't think that Lang's music is THAT wonderful. I think he sounds like a lot of the current crop of blues musicians (i.e. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Corey Stevens, etc.). He's a real good technician, and one thing that I liked about this new album is that he doesn't sound quite as coached, not quite as mass-produced. Frankly, if I were on the marketing staff at A&M, if I could turn back time, I would've released this album as Jonny's major-label debut and saved "Lie To Me" for an album of unreleased demos and b-sides to come out on the artists' 50th birthday. The songs sound a lot better this time around, but what I can't stand is the way the production team dresses up everything to sound like a pop record, just like they did the first time. I also think "Wander This World" could use some looser drumming. If you heard the cover "Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl" from "Lie To Me", you might get an idea of what I'm talking about. I think that in regards to Jonny Lang, everyone needs to chill out and let this little sprout grow some more before we go hacking the fruit off the vine. Overall, the picture's better, but I still think Lang's music could benefit greatly from a little more textural variety (beyond clavinets and echo pianos) and a little more stylistic variety as well.

3-0 out of 5 stars Don't Put too Much faith in it
This is a classic example of follow-up disc. In this case, the album has gone too much to the producers. The songs themselves are good, but on most of the tracks, Jonny's voice is so mixed out that you can hardly here him. Which is a shame, because Jonny has an amazing voice. There are some good songs on there, and his guitar playing is good. But compared to Lie To Me, this just seem weak

5-0 out of 5 stars Age ain't nuthin' but a number
Jonny Lang has it -- whatever it is -- call it musical integrity, roots, passion, feel or a simple and real sense of the song. His age is irrelevant. He had it as a kid and is only getting better and more refined. And his songwriting is just as inspired. I'm a huge fan of the blues and you cannot deny the wondrous blues foundation of Johnny's music. It's in the heart of his performance. No wonder it's so soulful, free-spirited and without any posturing or self-importance. I fell in love with this record on my first play. There's no need to keep Jonny in the traditional 16-bar blues format -- he's got a lot to say and he needs a mosaic of musical styles in which to create. Bravo Jonny! This endorsement comes from a 30-something-year-old singer/songwriter who takes her music very seriously. You have captured my attention and I look forward to all you have to offer now and in the future! You're a breath of much-needed fresh air in this "business" of music.

5-0 out of 5 stars A CD that will make you a True Lang Fan
A friend gave this CD to me for a birthday present. Since listening to the songs the first time, I have been hooked on Jonny. This CD has everything from Rock/blues, ballads, to Louisana Blues! There is something for everyone. This CD also shows how much this young man is maturing in his talents. A MUST have for anyone that likes good music! It hooked me on this man...and I have no doubt that it will do the same for you!

Walkin' Away, Breakin' Me, Cherry Red Wine, I Am....my very favorites...but ALL are great tunes.

Enjoy your purchase, it's worth every penny! ... Read more


31. Choo Choo Boogaloo
list price: $12.98
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Asin: B000002M6V
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1709
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Take a spicy Cajun tour through Louisiana's bayou country on Choo Choo Boogaloo! The musical scenery includes foot-stompin', two-steppin,' finger poppin' zydeco emblazoned with hot guitar licks, sassy accordion, and a dash of blues thrown in for good measure. Traditional titles, including "Get on Board," "Iko Iko," "Little Red Caboose," and "Cotton Fields," have been well adapted to zydeco style, while "Crawfish Song," "Mardi Gras Mambo," and "Give Me a Squeeze, Please" are right at home in this celebration of Cajun culture. Children will have a wonderful time moving with the new rhythms and exploring the sounds of various instruments used to create the unique zydeco style. --Deborah Moore ... Read more

Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars This CD is SO much fun!
I wish that I could give this CD more than 5 stars! I'm from New Orleans, but my 8-month-old twins are growing up in the Midwest, so it's great to share some authentic Louisiana music with them. And they absoluately ADORE it. Their faces light up and they both start to dance when ChooChoo Boogaloo comes on, and one has even started to 'sing' along. It's also the kind of kids' CD that grownups can love -- very cute, very smart, and lots of fun. I've bought several as presents already. HIGHLY recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars The best in my son's collection
The first thing my son (age 3-1/2) does when he gets up in the morning is run to the stereo and put in this CD. It is on pretty much all day every day -- has been for about a month -- and I still love it. I love it even more than my Buckwheat Zydeco CD for grown-ups, partly because it has made my son such a music lover (and he can now recognize a number of instruments from having heard the tutorial on Choo Choo Boogaloo), and partly because it's great music. I just bought another copy for a birthday present.

5-0 out of 5 stars great for kids of any age
I bought this for my daughter when she was 3 months old and would play it daily. When she was left with my husband while I was out she started to fuss, and as soon as he put this album on she quieted down and smiled! This is such a great album for kids, and for as many times as I've listened to it, I still love it. I wish there were more to enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!
The song selection, recording quality, and performances are all fabulous. Our eight-month old loves it almost as much as his thirty-something parents. We listen to so many times that now we're planning to attend a cajun/zydeco festival! :)

5-0 out of 5 stars My children LOVE this CD! Replaced Ralph's World
We have been huge Ralph's World fans, listening to Bottom of the Sea or Ralph's World OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. We received this for Christmas and now my 3-yr old son says " Let's listen to the Choo Choo Music!". And my 19-mth old jumps up and down excitedly. Their favorite is the first song. They could listen to that one exclusively- but I need a bit more variety than one song. :)
As an intro to each song, there is the conductor speaking, explaining the the Cajun or Louisiana influence on the following song. The kids barely pay attention to that at this point, but I find it interesting.
We will definitely be buying another Buckwheat Zydeco CD for ourselves soon and will buy this one as gifts for all our toddler friends.
Don't worry, RW isn't out of the picture yet. I sneak him in because I love the CDs so much. So do the kids. :) ... Read more


32. 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


33. 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


34. His Best
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Asin: B000005KQN
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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


35. From the Cradle
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Asin: B000002MTU
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 5982
Average Customer Review: 3.94 out of 5 stars
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The full-tilt blues album that Clapton had been promising for years, From the Cradle proves the guitarist's enduring devotion to a form he had long relegated to merely a flavor in his music rather than the main ingredient. Clapton's singing on the album is somewhat mannered; he tries to compete with original versions of these songs by Muddy Waters, Charles Brown, and others, and there's no way he's going to win that battle. Still, you can feel the emotional connection Clapton has with these songs, and guitar aficionados will swoon over his fretwork on songs such as "Third Degree," "Someday After a While," and the incendiary "Groanin' the Blues." --Daniel Durchholz ... Read more

Reviews (109)

5-0 out of 5 stars Clapton Thanks His Roots And Influences
Eric Clapton has built a career around the blues-from John Mayall to Cream, Derek and the Dominos to his solo career. His guitar playing has always been influenced by the blues. But he has recently turned into a pop-rock musician, ignoring his roots and influences. Here, on From the Cradle, Clapton finally does a full-tilt blues rock album with 16 legendary blues tunes. The result is that we are introduced again to the Eric Clapton we hadn't seen in a long time (and will continue to miss later)-scorching blues guitar, gritty and desperate vocals, and blues staples. The first track, "Blues Before Sunrise," is an all-out gritty rocker, and "Third Degree," is a slower paced gem. This is far from mainstream, but Clapton has a lot of fans who would rather he not be. Don't accuse him of not being original-he's not trying to be. Another great fact is that all tracks were recorded live in studio. He is simply getting back to his roots, back to the reason he went into music in the first place.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent blues album, don't be fooled by the "experts".
In response to all of the recent negative reviews that have surfaced about this recording,let me say that I am not a blues musician but I will put my collection of classic blues albums up against that of any reviewer here who claims to be steeped in the "real blues" and I wouldn't have these wonderful recordings if it weren't for artists like Eric Clapton or The Rolling Stones who have done so much to expose us to all of the great post-war masters of the form. This album is an outstanding tribute to those great artists and Clapton has put 30 years of playing the blues into it. Granted he cannot sing "Hoochie Coochie Man" like Muddy Waters, nobody can and Eric himself would be the first to agree. But on the other hand, I haven't heard anybody yet who could replicate the sound of Muddy's slide on "Standin' Round Cryin'" the way Eric does on this record and he takes Freddie King's "Someday, After Awhile" to new heights. Buy this album for the blues guitar playing, it's stellar. And for those musicians out there who think Eric can't play the blues or just doesn't have any soul in his playing, let me quote Riley B. King: "Eric Clapton plays the blues as good as anyone, better than most."

5-0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST
I have to recommend this cd to ANYONE that is interested in listening to the blues and some RAW emotion displayed through music. This cd was one of the first that I ever listened to by Mr. Clapton along with TIME PIECES and UNPLUGGED. I thrived off of them. I wanted to learn more and branched off to other genres of blues and jazz performed by artists such as BB KING and JELLY ROLL MORTON. This artist not only kept my interest alive but inspired me to LEARN about the culture of this type of music as well as enjoy it. I saw Mr. Clapton in concert tonight for the first time, and if you think this man does not know how to include SOUL, RYTHM, or BLUES into his music, you have never seen him live. From the time they unrolled his oriental rug on the stage, to the second standing ovation he received, it had to have undoubtedly be one of the best concerts I have ever seen. If you are a fan of the blues, you are a fan of Eric Clapton!

4-0 out of 5 stars Clapton's finest guitar ever
This is, hands down, Clapton's best guitar playing. It's all there. The phrasing is immaculate and tasteful. In terms of timing he's playing ahead of the beat, behind it, and everywhere around it. This is a development in his technique. Overall, he just sounds like he's on the blues war path. He had just quit smoking which could explain the burst of energy. Otis Rush claims this is one of the top ten all time blues guitar albums. The only thing holding this album back is that it's all covers. This is a minor criticism to an otherwise masterpiece of guitar work by "God."

5-0 out of 5 stars This is What it is About
From the Cradle represents some of Clapton's best work. Now he has a lot of great work (for me, mostly blues) over a very long period of time. Some people want to hear just the originals, and that's OK, but to hint at a complaint of covering the blues is to not understand the blues. I am a blues fan and a player of the blues. I love the blues. Yes, I have the originals too, and I can get into them for review. However, the blues (and I think most music) is to be interpreted, not copied. And here, as well in later works, Eric is interpreting the blues. As a player, I don't necessarily play with a bunch of guys to copy a song. We kind of change it around to fit our own styles and sound. I definitely think it is better to listen to, and a whole lot more fun to play. If we didn't have interpretation of music by your local bands, we wouldn't have many local bands, and to me quite honestly it is difficult to pay much attention to your average local band if there are too many originals, unless of course their originals are really exceptional. Which brings us right back to this album. This is a great interpretation, and Eric went on to keep releasing blues albums that keep sounding great. I find his interpretations inspiring, and make me want to pick up a guitar or bass and jam along with Eric, having a really good time. And that's what music is all about. Right? ... Read more


36. I'm a Bluesman
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Asin: B00026WVAE
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Sales Rank: 4367
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Texas guitar-slinger Johnny Winter bares some of his deepest roots on his first album of new recordings since 1998. In a rare turn on acoustic slide six-string, he performs fellow Lone Star State legend Hop Wilson's "That Wouldn't Satisfy" with the sweet, lovely simplicity of a street corner singer. Then Winter plugs in for Lazy Lester's stomping primal rocker "Sugar Coated Love." But after years of health issues, Winter, who's 60, has lost the roaring vocal authority of his earlier albums and no longer takes dizzying solos at jet speed. Instead, he makes all the notes of a tune like "Lone Wolf" count, whether he's crafting a slide melody or literally howling. "The Monkey Song," a playfully sleazy double-entendre number, proves his sense of humor is intact. And harmonica ace James Montgomery, who recently joined Winter's band, provides perfect accompaniment to Winter's vocal and guitar lines. Ex-Stevie Ray Vaughan keyboardist Reese Wynans also contributes to this overdue addition to Winter's dynamic blues-rock legacy. --Ted Drozdowski ... Read more

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars My Style of Blues
Muddy Waters once said that Johnny Winter was the only white man he ever met who understood the blues. There is something about JW's style that I like. It's the rural and southern type of blues I have always preferred. Unfortunately, his voice is not as strong as it was. As a result, he is slightly flat sometimes. But the arrangements are great and his guitar playing is still solid, albeit slower. Johnny Winter uses a thumbpick and finger pick rather than a flatpick to get a fuller country picking effect. My favorite songs are "I'm A Blues Man", "The Monkey Song", and "Let's Start All Over Again." I know he's getting old but let's not forget that Johnny played for Muddy Waters when he couldn't play as well anymore and Debbie Davies played lead for Albert Collins in his later years. The man still has great taste in music and I'm glad he's around.

3-0 out of 5 stars The most disappointing JW release to date
Every time I see a new Johnny Winter CD, I'm excited to hear what the most amazing guitar player has laid down. Covers or originals, I've never been let down yet. At least until I put this CD in.

While I realize Johnny has been thru a lot over the past few years, my original take on this album is "why did he bother?" The guitar licks lack the trademark intensity, and his tone even sounds compromised. Add to that the mediocre vocals, a far cry from the yellin' style he branded throughout his Muddy and solo days, and this recording does little to satisfy a real Johnny fan.

While I can appreciate the fact that Johnny is still putting out an effort to make more music, I'm disappointed that he hasn't put something more cohesive together for this CD. While his band isn't lacking, he certainly leaves more to be desired.

I certainly wish the best to Johnny and hope that his trademark slide playing comes back someday. Who knows, maybe this CD will grow on me. HOwever, my suggestion is to stick with his earlier work. You won't be disappointed.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not the true Johnny
Sad to say, but we all get old. The thing is, JW is only 60, but he looks and sounds like 80. I hope he is well, since Johnny Winter is possibly the finest blues guitarist (and vocalist) there ever was, black, white or very white, as the case may be.

While Mr Winter shows himself every now and then, the performances are feeble and weak. If you get this, do so only out of respect for the master.

4-0 out of 5 stars Glad I bought it
I bought this and the re-issue of his first album at roughly the same time. There can be no doubt that he's lost a step or two. As it's already been said, age and illness will do that to anyone. That doesn't mean that this lion in winter still can't muster a roar. A diminished Johnny Winter is still better than seventy five percent of what passes for blues. The guitar playing is now more precise rather than screaming by you at mach two. The vocals don't growl at you like they used to but are very smooth and acceptable. The song selection is generally strong if you leave off "The Monkey Song". Particular favorites of mine include "Lone Wolf", the lone acoustic number "That Wouldn't Satisfy" and "Sugar Coated Love". Don't obsess over the fact Johnny isn't the same as he was thirty years ago, buy the album and be thankful that we still have him around.

4-0 out of 5 stars Come you so called Winter fans - listen to it again
I'd like to address other reviewers complaints.
Daniel Anderson - You mention one song where it fades out during the vocals. You're taking about "The Monkey Song." Being a doctor you must know what he's talking about when he says "Monkey." The song times out at 6:12. It's the 2nd weakest cut on the CD and the longest. It fades with him giving Monkey inuendo one liners. How many more p---y remakes do you need? As far the CD being to short and being the old mindset of LP days I say you're wrong. I ideal release would be all meat & no filler. 80 minutes would be too much.
James Savage - He is 60 friggin years old! His health has been on a rollercoaster ride for the past decade. His tone has been the same tone he's been playing at his live shows since the early 90's. While his vocals are the same or as strong as they were decades ago - but neither are mine or your's. But his voice (& guitar tone)is the same that I heard on the last live album (as a "real" fan I'm sure you have that) and bootlegs. One guys says the best songs are "the acoustic one's" Well, he's part right. The ONE acoustic cut is great. The Cd is not his greatest but its not his worst. Live In NYC was nothing to write home about and a few cuts on I'm A Bluesman are much better than some of the songs on Raisin Cain and my least favorite JDW III. "Lets Start All Over Again", "That Wouldn't Satisfy" and "I Smell Smoke" are the best cuts. "The Monkey Song" is just a mess as is "Shake Down." The rest are all decent songs and all have some pretty good playing considering everything he's been through over the last 5 years. This CD is not for those of you who shout "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Rock n Roll Hoochie Koo" at his live shows. Stick with your CD copies of And Live and leave Johnny to those who are real fans. ... Read more


37. Sanctuary
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Asin: B0001HAI7M
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 3415
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Harmonica giant Charlie Musselwhite has evolved from stone traditionalist to blues experimentalist in recent years, with excursions into Tejano, country, and jazz. Now, with the help of Blind Boys of Alabama producer John Chelew, the 60-year-old has made a masterpiece that balances his music's Delta soul with sonic innovation. Musselwhite's world-weary singing is perfect for the haunting textures that the scraped and bell-toned guitar strings bring to "Train toNowhere" and Randy Newman's "Burn Down the Cornfield," songs where the fog of danger hangs in the air like ectoplasm. Slide-guitar guests Sonny Landreth and Ben Harper bring rippling energy to the bad-luck story "Shootin' for the Moon" and the Harper-penned spiritual "Homeless Child." And the Blind Boys' zesty old-time harmonies turn Musselwhite's biographical "I Had Trouble" into a gospel-tent confession. But, if the voice of God appears anywhere, it's in Musselwhite's always lush and mesmerizing harmonica. --Ted Drozdowski ... Read more

Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Plenty of Mussel
On the Internet you'll find Charlie Musselwhite's Alligator Records bio, his VH1 bio. And his Blind Pig Records bio and many others, so well-traveled is this blues icon

And it seems as if this master of the blues harp has been around as long as harmonicas. He adds to his legend with each album and guest appearance and here's his latest - Sanctuary (Real World)

I locked into it on the 2nd listen and it's a special recording. The songs are from great writers. Randy Newman's "Burn Down the Cornfield", Townes Van Zandt's "Snake Song" and Sonny Landreth's "Shootin' For the Moon are here. There are also songs written by Musselwhite, Ben Harper (the album's best cut, "Homeless Child"), a song by the album's guitarist Charlie Sexton and an interesting version of the old Savoy Brown song "Train to Nowhere" was what initially got my attention.

It's tempting to automatically accept any effort from Charlie Musselwhite as exceptional. But his Sanctuary is quite an album, and his vocals and harp playing are strong and clear.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wow! Amazing!
This is an amazing cd. I have been a Musselwhite fan for several years, but this one surpasses them all. I can't stop playing it! If you are a blues fan, get this one right now, you won't be sorry!

5-0 out of 5 stars like a movie without a screen
I have to say that I experienced "Sanctuary" rather than just listened to it. I am a huge fan of Charlie and I read reviews of the CD before I purchased it. The excellent reviews gave me high hopes and could have set me up for disappointment, but the following attests to how much I enjoy the experience of "Sanctuary."

The CD has 12 tunes that work together like 12 scenes in a drama. While each tune tells its own story, after listening to the CD in its entirety, you don't feel much different than you do at the end of a movie that tells a story about a person or a family and the ups and downs of their lives. So, yes, "Sanctuary" is a CD that you can play from start to finish without skipping a tune.

To blues fans and musicians, Charlie is an icon. On this CD he beautifully demonstrates the power and flexibility of the harmonica. On some tunes, the harp sounds like a traditional harmonica and on others, Charlie makes it sound like a violin or cello. When you add in Charlie's singing, you really connect with the feelings of "Sanctuary."

The most interesting thing to me about this CD is that experiencing it is a perfect example of the meaning of the second definition of the word sanctuary as found in Merriam Webster's online dictionary: a place of refuge and protection.

5-0 out of 5 stars CAN'T STOP HUMMING!
I'm just discovering the Blues, so I'm no expert. I heard several of the songs from this album performed on World Cafe and had to buy it. I love it - especially the first six tracks.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Sanctuary" Available April 6th!
"Sanctuary" - Charlie Musselwhite
Real World Records - April 6, 2004

CD Review by Celeste - April 11, 2004
(Reprint of review for blues society.)

Sanctuary - holy place; shrine; the chancel, church or other place of protection for fugitives
Sanctuary Synonyms - refuge, home, haven, harbor, port, asylum, retreat, fortress, castle, shelter
Shelter - a place or structure giving protection; that which covers or defends; a place of refuge or asylum

Holy Week was an appropriate time for Charlie Musselwhite's new CD "Sanctuary" to be released. These are dark times that we live in and everyone needs sanctuary, in multiple forms, on various levels. Thank God for music! I'll tell you what I think about this CD, but don't wait, buy it today and listen to it for yourself (...) There are a number of interesting subtleties surrounding this CD. I don't know if it was a coincidence or not, but the day of the release, April 6th, happens to be the anniversary of Big Walter Horton's birthday. Something else I'll ask Charlie about in our upcoming interview, are the five symbols above the letters, the notation seems familiar to me somehow. Also, I wonder why his eyes appear on the publicity photos but not the CD jacket covers... what does this mean, does this mean anything? I can't be the only curious one. ;^}

The Sanctuary Band formed by Charlie Musselwhite ~ vocals and harmonica, Charlie Sexton ~ guitar and vocals, Jared Michael Nickerson ~ bass, and Michael Jerome ~ drums, definitely have a good groove going. They each played with great emotion on this recording. I particularly like the instrumental that the four wrote together, "Shadow People", I find it surreal, elastic, spooky and soothing simultaneously. The images invoked are vivid, looking over your shoulder, envisioning people in the shadows... the bass and drums intertwine as the harp and guitar float around, through and back again. Several others also have this "surreal feel" to them, "Snake Song" (by Thomas Van Zandt) and "The Neighborhood"(by Charlie Sexton). The rhythms are wonderful throughout this CD. I took an exceptional liking to the drums on Snake Song just as I did the harp on the second instrumental (song 9). "Alicia", (written by jazz saxophonist Eddie Harris), was certainly done justice by the band. And Charlie's harp interpretation of this song was simply beautiful... it is inspiring indeed to listen to the inspired. :^}

Back to the beginning, it's starts off with CM singing 'Nowhere here to call my home, nobody near to call my own' in Ben Harper's "Homeless Child". Very nice slide guitar and vocals, backup singing and clapping, and yes, harp! (That's the first question that others seem to ask about the CD, is there much harp on it?) Why yes, yes, there is and Charlie is in fine form. ;^} In addition to his guest appearance on the first song, Ben Harper is also sitting in with the band on "Sanctuary", (written by Lee Breuer and Bob Telson). Although the title track is peaceful overall, it made me sad to hear Charlie singing of his final resting-place. (I lost four uncles and a good friend the Year of the Blues; though I am comforted that they are in a better place, it saddens me nonetheless.) They picked the beat right back up in the next song, "I Had Trouble" (by CM) It's difficult to articulate how blues can cheer you up but this song can explain what I cannot; it's one of my favorites as is Charlie's moving harp solo that follows it, "Route 19". Several special guests, The Blind Boys of Alabama, added their special touch to I Had Trouble and they also appeared on "Train To Nowhere" (by Chris Youlden and Kim Simmonds) 'Yeaheaaaa, You better not ride'. (Watch your volume if you listen with headphones, you'll be humming and tapping louder than you think.)

One song that I've had fun jamming to at the end of a long, stressful day is Charlie's "My Road Lies In Darkness" ~ There's a long, long road, don't seem like it has an end... we can all relate to that. :^} I wasn't sure though what to make of the words in "Burn Down The Cornfield" (by Randy Newman), it's sultry, but slightly strange. "Shootin' For The Moon" (by Sonny Landreth) is faster with interesting lines too ~ 'Crash landing in the Crescent City!'

There's a little bit of everything in these songs, many are blended, from blues to funk to alternative to jazz to rock. (It's a shame that music has to be 'classified' as anything, as a friend says though, there is a purpose of labeling a genre, it's so the kid stocking the shelves will know where to put them.) I think that many people with various backgrounds and different tastes will enjoy this CD. I bought extra copies for family and friends, they arrived quickly, and seven received theirs at Easter dinner! :^} I highly recommend Sanctuary to everyone! I love this CD! ... Read more


38. West Side Soul
list price: $11.98
our price: $10.99
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Asin: B000004BIF
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 4934
Average Customer Review: 4.87 out of 5 stars
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Many believe this 1967 landmark, Sam Maghett's first full-length studio recording, is the greatest blues album ever made. While that assertion is awfully difficult to substantiate, these 11 gems (plus one alternate) certainly deserve hyperbolic praise. These cuts have a dramatically direct emotional appeal, a blunt, unfiltered artlessness that's rarely been achieved in an electric setting. Sam's spirited vocals come from his heart and his belly, not his brain. His guitar work is smoothly melodic, à la B. B. King with a bit more bite, frenetic and energetic like Buddy Guy, but with more taste. Since this Mississippi native died at age 32, this album sits in a mystical place in blues history: In many ways, it is to Chicago blues what Robert Johnson's meager output is to Delta blues. --Marc Greilsamer ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must have for any Chicago Blues fan
While maybe not quite as well known as his brethren of the West Side Sound - Freddie King (Freddie moved to Chicago as a teenager) and Buddy Guy, Magic Sam deserves a place in the Pantheon of Blues. His sense of ryhtym and timing are second to none and his soulful vocal delivery will send shivers down your spine. On this disc he shows his mastery of a variety of styles from old standards like Sweet Home Chicago to boogie tunes like I Wanna Boogie to minor blues tunes like All of Your Love with its searing vocals and guitar runs.

4-0 out of 5 stars Soulful blues. (Or bluesy soul...)
This album is Magic Sam Maghett's finest hour, and one of the finest electric blues albums of the 60s.

He plays blues with a strong soul influence, particularly on the magnificent "That's All I Need" and "I Don't Want No Woman". Classic slow blues ("All Of Your Love", "I Found A New Love"). And superb versions of Jimmy McCracklin's "Every Night And Every Day", Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago" and J.B. Lenoir's "Mama Talk To Your Daughter".

Not everything is equally memorable, of course, and the arrangements may feel a little bit unvaried towards the end, but the overall impression of "West Side Soul" is that of a truly great, electrifying blues record, one which belongs in any serious blues collection.
4 1/2 stars - highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars MY FATHER
I HAVE NOT LISTEN TO ALL MY FATHER'S MUSIC YET. BUT THE MUSIC THAT I HAVE HEARD ALL READY I LOVE. SO FAR MY FAVORITE SONG IS, ALL YO LOVE AND BACK DOOR FRIEND. I AM THE YOUNGEST DAUGHTER OF MAGIC SAM. I WOULD LIKE TO GET KNOW MY OTHER BROTHERS AND SISTER'S. BUT I DO APPRECIATE EVERYONE THAT LISTEN AND BUY'S MY FATHER MUSIC. I HOPE TO GO VISIT THE BLUES CLUB DOWN TOWN CHICAGO
ON MY BIRTHDAY THIS YEAR. I WAS TOLD THAT HIS NAME WAS ON THE WALL.I WOLD NOT MIND TO LET THEM KNOW THAT I AM HIS DAUGHTER.
THANK YOU, MS.NINA MAGHETT

5-0 out of 5 stars Soaring
Magic Sam's gorgeous voice is reminiscent of Sam Cooke. With each phrase he conveys a sense of joy. The guitarwork is something of a bonus--but quite a bonus. His combination of rhythm and single -note picking is great to hear. In (both versions of) "I Don't Want No Woman" The melodic runs hit high and low,jumping above and below the implied chord. "Sweet Home Chicago" is propelled by simple chord runs punctuated by exclamatory single note picking. Sometimes there are simply too many notes, but this is a quibble in the face of such an exciting and joyous album.

5-0 out of 5 stars Man, what an album
I can't really disagree with anyone else. This is a great album, maybe not the greatest, but it's certainly on par with B.B.'s Live at the Regal which I also love. Magic Sam really expresses the melancholy that I like about the blues (on That's All I Need especially). This feeling became less important (but was still there) as the blues morphed into rock and roll. That's why I prefer the Stones to the Beatles. In their best songs, the Stones still have it, the Beatles really don't.

No matter what my mood is, the best blues just seems to fit. If I'm feeling good, then I can slip into the groove and relax. If I'm feeling low, then the blues lifts me up. It doesn't make me "forget my troubles" (a phrase I've always hated) but just helps me feel the mood without wallowing in it.

If you like this album, I'd also recommend Otis Spann, he doesn't have the swagger of his one-time boss Muddy Waters but is more relaxed and reflective like Magic Sam. ... Read more


39. Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - The Real Deal: Greatest Hits 2
list price: $18.98
our price: $14.99
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Asin: B00000ICN8
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 3083
Average Customer Review: 4.84 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (55)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fine primer on SRV, but there's a better offering available.
Stevie Ray Vaughan might have been the only man alive to approach the cosmic heights reached by the legendary Jimi Hendrix. He had the soulful voice, the second-to-none (but tasteful) chops, and the uncanny talent of taking blues standards and making them his own in a way that a second-tier blues guitarist like Eric Clapton can only attempt to emulate. Stevie was the real deal. His unfortunately short career began in 1980 and ended in 1990 with the sad helicopter accident that took his life. Throughout that career, Vaughan reinvented the world of blues guitar and bridged the gap between 12-bar blues and rock 'n' roll. While he wasn't the first to perform this feat, few did it as well.

The two single-disc Greatest Hits compilations available today do a pretty good job of rounding up his best material (both live and studio)--that is, if you don't mind buying them both. However, if you want all of this material without having to buy both discs separately, there's a better way to go. Look for a collection titled "The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble" locally. This is a 2-disc compilation not offered on Amazon that basically bundles together the two Greatest Hits discs. It has almost all the same songs (chronologically ordered too). Of course, you miss out on the rarity Pipeline featuring Dick Dale, but that isn't a huge loss to the casual fan.

Now that I've let you in on that little secret, go forth and add some SRV to your collection. If you're really hooked, seek out the individual studio albums (Texas Flood, Couldn't Stand The Weather, Soul To Soul, In Step) and also check out the several live albums available. Actually, go for the live albums first. Stevie was amazing live, as this compilation's versions of Shake For Me, Willie The Wimp, and Superstition (way better than the Stevie Wonder original!) prove. Also marvel at the phenomenal cover of Hendrix's Voodoo Child (Slight Return). Let's see any living guitarist try topping THAT.

So, in summary, your collection isn't complete without at least one Stevie album. Next to B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and (yes) Jimi, he was the greatest blues guitarist ever. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Excellent Follow-Up to 1995's Hits collection"
This 16-track compilation of SRV hits recorded from 1980 to 1990, is an excellent follow-up to the critically acclaimed 1995 collection "Greatest Hits." All of his 4 studio albums are equally represented here, as well as some of his live releases, and compilations that were released after his death. As for the rarities, the tracks "Leave My Girl Alone (from the "Live in Austin Texas" DVD)" & "Pipeline (1987, out of print)" were previously released as part of film soundtracks and DVD releases, but are presented here as audio tracks. This is a strange marketing strategy, but the tracks are still excellent. "Love Struck Baby" serves as the opening track, followed by the slow blues of "Ain't Gone 'n' Give Up on Love", the instrumental "Scuttle Buttin'", and "Wall of Denial", an obscure track from the award winning album, "In Step." My personal favorite is track 15, "Voodoo Chile (slight return)",
a remake of the 1968 hit by Hendrix. This 8 minute version features awesome soloing, vocals, and precision by Double Trouble. Get this CD, and enjoy a selection of hits by this late great guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Don't forget to check out "Voodoo Chile" & "Leave My Girl Alone (live)."

4-0 out of 5 stars A good but imperfect companion volume to "Greatest Hits"
Stevie Ray Vaughan's original Greatest Hits album was far too short at just 11 not particularly well chosen tracks, but this 1999 addition goes a long way towards making up for that. It is not a hits package per se, since most of these songs were never released as singles, but it features lots of excellent songs like "Willie The Wimp", "Ain't Gone 'N' Give Up On Love", "Empty Arms", and Vaughan's magnificent rendition of Doyle Bramhall's acoustic survivor story "Life By The Drop".

That still doesn't make it a definitive career retrospective, though, even when coupled with "Greatest Hits" vol. I, and the inclusion of tunes like "Pipeline" and "Superstition" is suspect considering what has been left out.
At 27 songs, these two albums are trmped by the superb double-disc collection "The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble", which is cheaper than "Greatest Hits" vol. I and II together, yet features a stronger selection of songs, and six more of them as well.

Go get that one. Go, go!

5-0 out of 5 stars Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - The Real Deal: hits 2
I love working out to this CD--it makes me think Austin . ..Rockabilly . . good times . . .Great CD and great work out alternative

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Intro to SRV
This is the first Stevie Ray Vaughan CD I picked up, and while it may be considered a lesser album by some die-hard fans, I keep finding this thing in my CD player. It's got some great songs, and pretty good diversity, considering Vaughan's tragicallly abbreviated career.

Several live tracks, including the classic "Willie the Wimp" and the rocking update of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," give you a sense of what a blast it must have been to watch Vaughan roar through a set -- almost as good as watching a rerun of "Austin City Limits." The combination of rocking fury and melancholy blues is just astounding.

Instrumentals ("Pipeline," "Scuttle Buttin'") also allow the listener to just kick back and marvel at Vaughan's virtuoso playing ability. Vaughan's voice, apparently criticized by some, is fine, but it pales in comparison to his ability to a guitar.

My two favorite tracks are the thumping "Shake For Me" and the bittersweet "Life by the Drop." It's tough to pick favorites on this loaded album, though, and I've never met two people who have the same two top picks on this album.

It's tough to pick up a Stevie Ray Vaughan CD these days . . . there are so many that have slightly different combos of the same limited catalog of songs. This album is a good start. ... Read more


40. Anthology of American Folk Music (Edited by Harry Smith)
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Asin: B000001DJU
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2317
Average Customer Review: 4.92 out of 5 stars
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This impressive--and frankly, fun--musical document is still sending out shock waves almost 50 years after its original 1952 vinyl release. The Smithsonian's six-CD reissue is painstakingly researched, annotated, and packaged (even boasting an enhanced disc for the techno-capable). Unlike field recorders, eccentric filmmaker/collector/musicologist Harry Smith assembled the Anthology from commercially released (though obscure) 78 rpm discs issued between 1927 and 1935. Its broad scope--from country blues to Cajun social music to Appalachian murder ballads--was monumentally influential, setting musicians like Bob Dylan down the path to folk fandom. The White House started its own national music library with the Anthology; anyone with more than a passing interest in American roots music should do the same. --Michael Ruby ... Read more

Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential for a well-rounded pop music collection
You should buy this just to hear where all those folk and blues revivalists of the 60s got a large chunk of their material. Back then, these albums were the only way to hear these recordings unless you were willing to go to great lengths to collect old records (like the compiler of this Anthology, Harry Smith).

If you enjoy the Anthology music you can hear a lot more of the same style on Yazoo Records' various "rural music" anthologies. Nearly every disc they issue has an Anthology track or two on it, or other work by artists who appear on this Anthology. I actually find Yazoo's "Before The Blues" series more enjoyable, track for track, than this collection. It's likely, though, that there would be no Yazoo records today if the AAFM hadn't come along in the early 1950s. Also, this Anthology includes secular, spiritual and "social" music in a rather comprehensive way, so understandably there don't seem to be many people who like EVERY song. Even Harry Smith didn't like every song in the collection (read the liner notes).

5-0 out of 5 stars The first great collection of American folk song recordings
The "Anthology of American Folk Music" put together by Harry Smith was originally issued in 1952 in three volumes of 2 LPs each, with a total of 84 tracks collected from old records. It is said that this collection played a seminal role in the folk music revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s, influencing and inspiring the generation of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Once you listen to these songs you will have little doubt that was indeed the case. The three volumes focus on Ballads, Social Music, and Songs respectively. I did not recognize enough of these 84 songs to use all of the fingers on my guitar picking hand and I could not care less. You can look over the playlist above and see if anything looks familiar, but, obviously, that is beside the point here. These songs involve a definition of "folk" that is expansive enough to include blues singers like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Richard "Rabbit" Brown. The authenticity of these songs is overpowering, transporting you to a time and place when radio was just starting to make inroads into the backwoods of America.

The collection includes a 100-page booklet that features harry Smith's original handbook of songs, an essay by critic Greil Marcus, along with other essays, song notes, photos, graphics, and recollections by legendary artists about how this anthology inspired their own careers. The overall effect is like taking a college course on American Folk Music. Whether your interest in this type of music comes from listening to the Weavers, Peter Paul, & Mary, or the soundtrack to "Brother, Where Art Thou?" hopefully your enjoyment of folk music will lead you back to this seminal collection. Additional Note: There is also an excellent website put together by the Smithsonian Folkways that will tell you for not only alternate titles (e.g., "The Wagoner's Lad" is also known as "Loving Nancy" and "My Horses Ain't Hungry"), but other recorded versions organized by styles (e.g., traditional American Folk, Folksong revival, Post revival, Country/String Band, Bluegrass, and British). Like everyone else, I have been greatly impressed by the way the Smithsonian Institute has been protecting our nation's heritage when it comes to folk music. They take their job seriously and they are very, very good at it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Necessary.
I dont think there is a need to go into to much detail about this *6 CD* set. If you can fork over the cash, just buy it. If you have any interest in roots music, just buy it. If you thought ol' Bobby Dylan and the Band made some great weird music in the basement of big pink in '67 .. for the love of god, BUY THIS! strange, unadorned, raw music , just buy it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential
Much ink & many electrons have been devoted to explaining both Harry Smith (and a lot of explanation is necessary -- very interesting man) and this wonderful collection of recordings from the 1920's and 30's, so I won't go into too much detail here. If you'd like a good treatise on the work itself as a cultural object, and how it relates to other thematically similar items, I would reccomend Griel Marcus' book Invisible Republic.
This is the greatest mix tape ever made, and an essential cultural artifact, not only of the vernacular music of the hills & highways of pre-electrification America, but also of the folk movement ofthe fifties and sixties (the primer fromwhic all else was derived) and by extension of the hippy movement following closely thereafter.
SOme of this music is really wild...

5-0 out of 5 stars Mysterious, Beautiful and a Kick Inside
I half heard a story about the Anthology on Natl Public Radio a few months ago while I was getting ready for work. The story kept coming back to me, until I had to buy the Anthology to get some peace. Instead of peace, I find that I am now disturbed, intrigued, and haunted.

Music is ill-suited to being described in words, so I'll use an entirely different experience to try and convey what listening to this Anthology is like.

I once knew a fellow who had grown up on Bechtel construction project sites around the world. As a kid playing in the dirt at these sites, he'd collected a box full of those stone tools that humans made and used for something like three million years. I found that once I had turned one of these slips of chipped obsidian or shale over for a moment, it settled naturally into my hand. There was a spot for my thumb, another spot for my forefinger, and my hand was making a scraping or digging motion with the thing. The tool and my hand still remembered their ancient partnership, without any volition from me. This sensation was simultaneously disturbing and satisfying and made the hair stand up on my neck.

This sensation is very close to what I feel listening to this anthology. You will not hear the familiar, highly produced music we're now so comfortable with. You will hear the voice and sound of music as it has been for millions of years -- and you will recognize what you are hearing as being utterly, essentially human.

These recordings were, of course, made only 75 years ago in the 1920's, surely part of the modern era. Yet this was the last moment in time between the old world and the new world. We still sing and play music for the same reasons we always have, but the way we used our voices and instruments for millions of years has been changed by technology. So if these not very old recordings feel strangely like a link to something ancient and mysterious, that's because they actually are.

There is a great beauty in the voices on these recordings, many of which are almost shrill, almost off-key -- unfamiliar to our pampered contemporary ears -- but also perfectly right. There is a mystery in the odd and sometimes fragmentary lyrics, whose once important meaning is now lost.

We can still share the depth of feeling through the music itself, sometimes so strongly that your heart leaps as though you'd been kicked from inside. But, as it says in the booklet of notes, while we can share in the emotions that impelled someone to sing about The Coo Coo Bird in the first place, we'll never know why it was important to live on a mountainside in order to see Willie go by.

Perhaps the true power of this Anthology is that every recording is genuine in a way that is no longer possible. I recommend it. ... Read more


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