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1. The Complete Recordings
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2. His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary
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3. His Best: 1947 to 1955
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4. The Very Best Of John Lee Hooker
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5. Her Best : The Chess 50th Anniversary
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6. Down in the Basement: Joe Bussard's
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7. The Complete Early Recordings
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8. The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
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9. The Sky Is Crying: The History
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10. Original Delta Blues
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11. His Best
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12. Anthology of American Folk Music
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13. Fess: The Professor Longhair Anthology
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14. The Anthology: 1947-1972
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15. It Serves You Right to Suffer
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16. Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues:
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17. King of Delta Blues Singers
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18. Avalon Blues : Complete 1928 Okeh
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19. Fathers and Sons [Expanded]
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20. The Complete Studio Recordings

1. The Complete Recordings
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Asin: B000002757
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1214
Average Customer Review: 4.57 out of 5 stars
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This two-CD box contains all 41 recordings Johnson made, including 12 alternate takes, and each cut remains a classic. This set's release in 1990 caused quite a stir, selling more than 500,000 copies, and, on the basis of endorsements from Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, introduced a great number of rock fans to Delta blues. Amazingly, Johnson built his enormous legacy on the strength of just two recording sessions: the first session, in November of 1936, produced among others "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Cross Road Blues," and "Walkin' Blues," making it perhaps the most influential single session in blues history.--Marc Greilsamer ... Read more

Reviews (84)

5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable document of a great talent
The irony of Robert Johnson's superstar status is hard to miss. He was almost completely ignored by the music-buying public of his day, even in the market his records were aimed at. Yet in the present day, he's practically the only country blues artist most people know about. On one level, this is because of relentless championing by other blues artists, not least Eric Clapton. On another level, Johnson's fame rests on the fact that he was able to write, or more properly pull together from his various mentors and influences, his songs and make them complete unto themselves. His songs have made an impact, and have been covered time and again by countless artists. That counts for something.

Part of who Robert Johnson was as a singer and songwriter is obscured by his legend, which has been retold so often it borders on cliche. But even after the hype has been dismissed, this box set shows Johnson as a powerful, innovative, soulful blues man, a great performer and a great songwriter (in the context of blues songwriting) with his own unique sound.

Johnson was not without his influences, and if he had lived he would have told you that himself. However, the interesting thing was that he managed to transform his influences and personalize them into his own vision of the blues, a blues that was one of the first steps away from country blues toward city blues - a vision that would eventually become Chicago blues.

It has been fashionable in blues circles to put Robert Johnson down recently, and to gripe about how Johnson's influences should be as well known as he is. This is a valid point. However, Johnson became an influence himself, and as such, he still deserves a good deal of respect. This box set, which contains every recording he is known for, is a just tribute to a brilliant singer, songwriter and performer.

The remastering is surprisingly good, considering the sources. Johnson's voice and guitar playing come through vividly and illustrate his wealth of talent. The only possible drawback to this box set, for the casual listener, is the number of alternate takes included. They show that Johnson was an adept performer, because a lot of the alternates are similar to the "released" versions. This showed that he was no closet bluesman or flash-in-the-pan, but was adept at entertaining an audience. And to this day his guitar playing is astonishingly fluid and innovative. However, the repetitiveness of the alternate takes can become trying to people who are not students of the blues, and for the casual listener a single-disc set would probably be sufficient.

This box set, is, and remains, a worthy overview of a talent that received its due far too late. I would advise the listener not to be put off by people who would place Johnson's influences over him, but to listen to Johnson on his own merits. My guess is that he'll win you over, as he has generations of listeners.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the 29 most influential songs of the 20th century
Robert Johnson is most emulated of the Mississippi bluesmen and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. His inovative guitar style was extensively copied by the early rock stars and and has continued to influence modern musicians. When a country hick named Elvis Presley was auditioning for Sun Records in the early 50s he played several Robert Johnson tunes. Other musicians deeply influenced by Johnson include Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Johnson had very large hands so his songs are almost impossible to immitate due to the incredible difficulty of fretting them. Keith Richards said "I was hearing two guitars, and it took me a long time to realize he was actually doing it all by himself." According to legend Johnson got his amazing guitar skills by selling his soul to the Devil at a Mississippi crossroads one evening in 1930. People say the evidence is in songs like Crossroad Blues, Up Jumped the Devil, Me and the Devil Blues, and Hell Hound on My Trail. Johnson had only recorded these 29 songs before he was poisoned by a jealous husband in 1938 when he was only 26 years old.

Johnson's songs are characterized by an intensity of raw emotion and incredible creativity. The lyrics are haunted and really stick in your mind. My favorites are Crossroad Blues, Last Fair Deal Gone Down and of course, Love in Vain, one of the most beutiful blues songs ever written. No true blues fan would deny that Robert Johnson was the greatest bluesman of all time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best blues I have ever heard!
This is one of the first blues C.D.s I ever bought, and it is the best. I have since perchaced C.D.s by Muddy Waters, Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson and several others, and while they are all very good none of them are as good as Robert Johnson. I definitely recomend this to anyone even slightly interested in the bles.

I would like to point out that the reviewer calling himself Tony Thomas is RACIST. I have read several of his reviews and he uses the term "bleus lovers" derisively put into quotes to refer to whites. When he says real blues people he obviously is talking about blacks. These slightly hidden racist slurs and his general tone is elitist and offensive. I would have thought that amazon would be ethical enough not to post this sort of RACIST PROPAGANDA!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Music Ever!
In ''Robert Johnson : The Complete Recordings'', you will hear the most powerful blues there is. Robert Johnson's music is more than great, it's magic, it's indefinable. I've never heard anything like that and I know I never will find anything similar. He creates a blues world of his own where everything is possible. He brings you in his visions, his fears, his joys, his hopes, his loves, his travels... Also, his guitar skills are fantastic, his emotion is truely unique and his lyrics really define the everyday life of a traveling black blues musician in the 30's and also visions (or not) he had (Me And The Devil Blues, Hell Hound On My Trail, Cross Road Blues), inspiring incredibly dark and superb lyrics of an artist who died way too young.

Most people know Robert Johnson's story, so I'm not going to write it A G A I N, but I would just like to say to people who think Robert Johnson's music sucks because 'his singing is bad, he plays acoustic, he sings stupidities and the sound quality is awful' that they prove their lack of musical culture. Robert Johnson is without a doubt an icon in blues music, and music in general. He's - to me - the greatest musician ever (whatever the time period or the style). This Complete Recordings is definitely an item you should own, but we aware that the sound quality isn't as good as modern CDs (that box set was issued in 1990, and the tracks come from 78's of the 30's), but the music inside is extremelly powerful. Also be aware that this box set, who's said to contain each Robert Johnson's takes, actually doesn't contain 'Traveling Riverside Blues (take 2), which does appear on a more recent compilation called 'I'm A Steady Rollin' Man' (who also has the 41 other tracks available here). But that's a very small complaint, since they haden't yet realized - back in 1990 - that the second take of that song was on the 1961 LP : King Of The Delta Blues Singers.

However, this item is great and is one you should have in your collection. Whatever the kind of music you listen to, you will find yourself in admiration before the legacy a certain Robert Johnson left more than sixty-five years ago...

1-0 out of 5 stars Statistics for statistics buffs, not music
Look: There are forty-one tracks on this album, but only twenty-nine songs. How to account for the discrepancy? Well, I can't. All I can say is that someone who wants to listen to multiple takes IN A ROW of the same songs EVERY TIME he listens to an album is NOT interested in music. Next time, if we really have to have alternate takes, let's confine them to a separate disc, please. Thank you very much. ... Read more

2. His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection)
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Asin: B000005KQM
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1718
Average Customer Review: 4.85 out of 5 stars
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Chester Burnett's ferocious growl was a staple of Chicago's electric-blues heyday. This 20-song compilation ranges from his 1951 debut "Moanin' at Midnight" with Willie Johnson on guitar to 1964's "Killing Floor" with Buddy Guy on guitar. His scratchy, sawed-off vocal approach and his energetic harmonica grace original classics such as "How Many More Years" and "Smokestack Lightnin'." By 1960, he became, along with Muddy Waters, the foremost interpreter of Willie Dixon's songs, lending his coarse voice to legendary Dixon cuts such as "Wang Dang Doodle," "Back Door Man," "Spoonful," "The Red Rooster," and "I Ain't Superstitious." Wolf's style was based on primal raw power, and he ranks among the genre's most distinctive performers. --Marc Greilsamer ... Read more

Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars essential
Howlin' Wolf was already in his forties when he arrived in Chicago in the winter of 1953 and started recording for the Chess label. He quickly became Muddy Waters main and only rival on the city's club scene. With his six foot three, weighing well over 300 pounds, he had the stage presence of a mountain. Or perhaps a volcano is a better word, as he would regularly erupt, fall to his knees and howl at the moon. All his Chess recordings are essential listening for any serious blues lover, but if I had to pick one song to represent the Wolf in an anthology of the best American music from the 20th century, my choice would probably be Smokestack Lightnin'.

It's a simple song, just a few chords in a row actually, but it might be one of the greatest recordings ever recorded by a recording artist. I kid you not. Just as the Carmina Buruna belongs in the background of a classic, Freudian nightmare. Smokestack Lightnin' is the perfect soundtrack to a wild and sweaty one. It has a swampy feel bundled with images of trains and "little bittie boys". And the voice that sings it is just huge. I mean, the Wolf must have made the people around him feel like insects. It reminds me of the sound of a Harley, if you have the right pair of ears, you will only need to hear it once to remember it for the rest of your live.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best single-disc overview of an amazing career
If you're only ever going to buy one Howlin' Wolf-album (why? why would you want to to that?), this is the one to get.

Howlin' Wolf recorded some two hundred songs during his long career, and with room for 20 only, some hard choices must have been made by the compilers.
Chester Arthur Burnett, the Howlin' Wolf, stood about 6'4" and weighed close to three hundred pounds in his prime, and his huge, gravelly roar of a voice sounds positively frightening on early cuts like "Moanin' At Midnight" and the clanging, piano-driven boogie of "How Many More Years".

The songwriting credits are shared about equally by the omnipresent Willie Dixon, who plays bass on most of the cuts as well, and the Wolf himself, and "Hidden Charms" features perhaps the greatest guitar solo ever comitted to tape, courtesy of the hugely underestimated Hubert Sumlin, Wolf's right-hand man for more than twenty years.
Other highlights include "Forty-Four", "Smokestack Lightnin'", "The Red Rooster" and the phenomenal "Killing Floor", written by Howlin' Wolf, shamelessly stolen by Led Zeppelin and covered by several others, but never surpassed, and featured here in the ultimate version, sporting an incredibly catchy guitar riff by Hubert Sumlin, and Buddy Guy on acoustic rhythm guitar.

This CD is a corner stone in any serious blues collection, hard-rocking, bone-crunching electric blues, burning with the sheer ferocity of Chester Burnett's incredible voice. There was never anyone like the Wolf, and it doesn't seem likely that there will be.
Oh, and while you're at it, get "His Best vol. II" as well.

3-0 out of 5 stars His Best Chess
This CD was not what I was looking for. He played one item on the CD that was with the FULL sound, the others I didn't care for. I heard a song by him pertaining to a dope addict. I was told this was it - it was not. It was full and mesmerizing. Please recommend the CD I am looking for.

5-0 out of 5 stars A unique Voice In The History Of Music
Yes, a totally unique voice in the history of all music. There is no one that sounds like The Wolf. My tastes in music are primarily classical, but the voice and music of this hulk of a man taught me to appreciate the blues.

This is music that can grip you emotionally. The pure rawness of it can even be on the scary side sometimes. No analysis is needed, all you gotta do is listen! What a performer he must have been in person!

A required disc for blues lovers, and might I suggest for all music lovers. Every time I listen to his music, I marvel. Most highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Some of the Howlin' Growlin' Wolf's best.
This is a comprehensive collection of some of Howlin' Wolf's best music. The master of gravel voiced, gut bucket blues. A must have if you want to listen to Chicago electric blues....... ... Read more

3. His Best: 1947 to 1955
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Asin: B000005KQH
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1250
Average Customer Review: 4.78 out of 5 stars
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One of the best recordings in Chess Records' 50th Anniverary series is the first of two bookend Muddy Waters collections, His Best 1947-55. Documenting Waters's most creatively and commercially successful years at Aristocrat/Chess, this CD begins with his formative years and ends with Waters at his peak. So you're in for a lot of terrific bottleneck slide guitar work as well as electric Chicago blues. What's to criticize? Superb remasterings of "I Can't Be Satisfied," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "I'm Ready," and "Mannish Boy" are simply beyond reproach. With simple bass accompaniment from Ernest "Big" Crawford, Waters's bottleneck tracks are spare, haunting and, quite frankly, perfect country blues. And listening to Waters, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Rogers piece together (and perfect very quickly) the classic Chicago sound is pure blues epiphany. At the very least, this collection shows you why Waters's rollicking stop-time classics like "Mannish Boy" and "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" have sparked endless imitations over the years--and why nobody has played them better since. --Ken Hohman ... Read more

Reviews (18)

These are the songs that the BRITISH INVASION groups played to death in the sixties;here's your chance to hear the originals in this wonderful collection.In fact to be frank,this can be the only blues record you ever need when your friends want to hear that kind of music.Just for the record ,let's enumerate which songs were recorded by the likes of THE ROLLING STONES(I CAN'T BE SATISFIED,I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU,MANNISH BOY);CREAM(ROLLIN AND TUMBLIN,I'M READY)and THEM(BABY PLEASE DON'T GO)and this is only a partial list.MUDDY WATERS was more than anybody else the best performer of the CHICAGO blues.If you like it, you can go with the follow up which completes this anthology perfectly.

5-0 out of 5 stars this is the one !
I was looking for the definitive Muddy Waters CD, and I found it here. The best songs from his best period with the best musicians. To me this is a CD that will always be heard. All 20 songs are masterpieces but I could single out "I'm Ready", "Mannish Boy", "can't be Satisfied" for their outstanding quality. Little Walter was an amazing Harmonica player who was at his best playing with Muddy Waters. His piercing solos gives the music here an edge I found nowhere else. The sound is very good, and the number of song (20) lets you enjoy the music thoroughly without being abraptly cut. This is a CD for the "deserted island" list.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blues from heaven
This album blew my mind and is essential listening for any lover of blues, rock or any form of music(interested listeners are requested to also check out Howlin' Wolf 'His Best' CD issued simultaneously by Chess Records).

Nearly 50 odd years later the music sounds as fresh as yesterday. If this isn't where all the rock maestros of later years got their sonic ideas, it should have been.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Classic Music
These are the seminal years of the second, the electric wave of Chicago Blues. Muddy Water's collaborations, especially with Willie Dixon here, created the modern Chicago blues which replaced the older acoustic style represented best by Tampa Red and Big Maceo, and by Lil Hardin Armstrong and Lonnie Johnson collaboration.
The older smaller tighter, more person (and it is hard to talk about anything more personal than even the least well prepared Muddy sides),blues. The performances are breathtaking in their strength. You know this man, and you know more about yourself after you hear this.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent compilation
"Excellent compilation", eh? So why only four stars?
Well, the track selection is really good, bringing together almost all the best of Muddy Waters' rough, muscular blues. Or rather, the best of 1947-55, which is why this is "only" a four star-compilation: It's not a career spanning retrospective, and it doesn't work all that well on its own.

But get this CD along with its companion volume, "His Best: 1956-1964", which also features 20 tracks, and you'll have a really fine career overview, second only to the three-disc "Chess Box" set (and perhaps the 50-track "The Anthology: 1947-1972").

This CD only has one significant flaw: A production error means than a sloppy alternate take of "Hoochie Coochie Man" is included instead of the master. Otherwise, it's just about as fine a compilation as you could wish for, including Muddy's first single, the slashing acoustic slide guitar blues "I Can't Be Satisfied", and tough, electric Chicago classics like "Honey Bee", "I'm Ready", "Trouble No More", and "I Just Want To Make Love To You".
Just remember that this isn't the definitive word on Muddy Waters - he made superb songs after 1955 as well. ... Read more

4. The Very Best Of John Lee Hooker
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Asin: B0000033I0
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 1776
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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A million or so collections, all from different record labels, document this Detroit blues guitarist's influential boogie-woogie career. This 16-song Rhino CD is an excellent starting point, with definitive versions of Hooker's classics "Boom Boom," "Boogie Chillen'," "I'm in the Mood," and "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." It's interesting to hear the singer's voice progress from a deep, growling slur to the more polished later material, such as his collaboration with slide guitarist Roy Rogers on Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues," but he never lost his bottom-line rawness. --Steve Knopper ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Stuff Legends Are Made Of!
Every once in a while, a budget disc comes along that is surprisingly good. Such is the case with Rhino Records release of "The Very Best of John Lee Hooker." On this release, Rhino combines 16 stand out tracks and some nice liner notes which briefly describe the man as well as the origin of each of the tracks. The selection of songs range from Hooker's signature "Boogie Chillen'" recorded in 1948 through "Terraplane Blues" recorded with slide man Roy Rogers in 1987. This is not a comprehensive collection nor was it ever intended to be. Instead, you get a flavor for a younger John Lee Hooker and his amazing guitar work. The recording quality is excellent especially considering the age of the songs. Well worth the purchase.

5-0 out of 5 stars 16 John Lee Hooker classics all in a row!!!
This great CD from Rhino collects 16 classic tracks from John Lee Hooker's awesome career!!!Includes:Boogie Chillen',Crawling King Snake,Boom Boom,Big Legs,Tight Skirt,Shake It Baby,One Bourbon,One Scotch,One Beer,Terraplane Blues(with Roy Rogers!),and more!!!An awesome collection!!! Two thumbs up!!! Five stars!!! A+

5-0 out of 5 stars A fine starting place
This single-disc compilation actually does a better job than Rhino's double-disc "The Ultimate Collection (1948-1990)", from which these tracks are taken. It's not a complete career overview, of course, but where "The Ultimate Collection" tries and fails to be definitive, "The Very Best Of John Lee Hooker" doesn't strive to be "ultimate", but only to provide a good introdution to the daunting legacy of the Hook.
And it does a superb job, collecting sixteen of Hooker's best song, including "Boom Boom", "Dimples", "I'm Bad Like Jesse James", "Big Legs, Tight Skirt" and "It Serves You Right To Suffer".
A perfect introduction for the curious.

5-0 out of 5 stars simply and absolutely Blues
It's the best way to enter the world of the blues and the finest way to realise why the man with the guitar is the one make you feel good everytime you want to relax.It's the combination of that electrical tone and the rough voice that relax you during or after a dificult day.It's simply and absolutely blues.

5-0 out of 5 stars pioneer of the blues
There is nothing like drawing the shades close, putting on a set of headphones, and listening to a good John Lee Hooker disc. Whether it be something from the late 40's or his newest releases back in 2000 with John Lee Hooker and Friends. That is what was great about this man, he just got better as time went on. To start out, The Very Best of John Lee Hooker is a great way to get into him if you are interested in the blues. You wont be dissapointed. The Classic Boom Boom, One Scotch, One Beer, are great, but the others that you may never heard of are just as good. It serves You Right To Suffer, Burnig Hell, and Crawlin' King Snake are just a couple on this cd that will grab you. I give this disc 5 stars and then some. ... Read more

5. Her Best : The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection
list price: $18.98
our price: $14.99
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Asin: B000005KQE
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2513
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan essential recording

Whether she sings string-laden pop ballads, lively soul, or gritty electric blues, James's high-powered, enormously expressive voice displays a knack for passionate blues inflections. Emotionally charged ballads including "At Last" and "All I Could Do is Cry" find James blasting through the orchestra with unearthly wails and moans. "If I Can't Have You," a duet with Harvey Fuqua, drops the orchestra in favor of horn-driven R&B and "Something's Got a Hold On Me" is a gospel-flavored romp reminiscent of Ray Charles. A live version of Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" shows her raunchiest Chicago-blues style, and "In the Basement," with Sugar Pie DeSanto, is a funky workout. Also here are three classics from her soul-drenched 1967 Muscle Shoals sessions.--Marc Greilsamer ... Read more

Reviews (35)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great selection (but oh those abrupt fade-outs)
There are numerous repackagings of Etta James' Chess recordings and they all have something to recommend them. As an intro to this great singer's work, however, this collection is hard to beat. All her classics, from the elegant "At Last" to the soulfully rocking "Tell Mama" are included here. No doubt some listeners will prefer one side of her musical personality to another, but her versatility is genuine, and it's impossible to imagine her limiting herself to just one genre. A live version of Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me To Do" prefigures her more recent forays into rootsier blues. And "All the Way Down," produced by Gabriel Mekler, has all the funk of a Sly & the Family Stone track. Etta can and does do it all. The only problem with this collection--as one other reviewer has pointed out--is the fact that too many tracks come to an abrupt ending. (You can't even really call them fade-outs: they just stop.) Still it's wonderful to have so much great Etta on one disk, that's something of a quibble. Very good, informative liner notes by Peter Grendysa.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not only a Drag Queen, but a tremendously gifted singer!
Etta James was born, Joshua James Etters, in Atlanta, Georgia on May 23, 1930. The world now knows him as Etta James, the soulful and powerful voice behind the legendary "background song", AT LAST. When I first heard this beautiful song I was watching television in my Manhattan apartment. It was, as I recall, a commercial for Jaguar Motors. I leaned forward in my chair, stared at my TV and said, "WOW!" It was then and there that I set out to learn all I could about the overweight, poor little farmer's son who grew up to be one of the world's greatest female impersonators...a true drag diva before the word and genre was fashionable. This CD says it all. Lean back and imagine that you are driving your '62 Buick to the Jersey Shore... Kennedy's is President and..."LIFE IS LIKE A SONG".

5-0 out of 5 stars Miss Peaches Stands Apart From The Crowd
When songwriters Harry Warren and Mack Gordon had their composition At Last become the B-side to the 1942 Glenn Miller # 1 hit (I've Got A Gal In) Kalamazoo, they probably thought they had died and gone to Heaven. Especially when it too charted at a respectable # 14 with Ray Eberle doing the vocals. A decade later they struck paydirt again when the song was resurrected in the movie Orchestra Wives and then taken to # 2 by Ray Anthony & his orchestra.

But the best was yet to come, and when a 23-year-old from Los Angeles by the name of Jamesetta Hawkins decided to record it in 1961 under her stage name Etta James, from that point on it became HER song. It may not have done as well on the pop charts as the earlier versions [# 47] but it did become a # 2 R&B and is, by any standard, the best version of that enduring love song.

Her career had actually commenced in 1955 when, at age 17, she recorded an "answer" song to the 1954 # 1 R&B hit Work With Me Annie by The Midnighters [Hank Ballard and crew]. Also known as Roll With Me Henry, and with Richard Berry providing the bass male vocal, it too reached # 1 R&B early in 1955 as The Wallflower as by Etta James and "The Peaches" [hence the later nickname]. That same year Georgia Gibbs would have a # 1 pop with it as Dance With Me Henry.

Later that year she would have her second hit single when Good Rockin' Daddy climbed to # 8 R&B with the backing of The Dreamers, a group that included the great Jesse Belvin, and Maxwell Davis & His Orchestra.

Personal problems then set in, and Etta would be off the charts until early 1960 when she returned with the stirring ballad All I Could Do Was Cry, which scored on both the R&B [# 2] and pop [# 33] charts. And from there right through to 1976 she would be seldom off the charts, racking up another 27 R&B hits and putting 26 more on the pop charts.

This CD gives you the best of those along with nine pages of liner notes by Peter Grendysa of Words On Music Ltd., a partial discography of the contents [no chart information], and two more nice photographs of Etta, who was inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame in 1993.

Just 65 years old, Etta is still wowing them in personal appearances. This is a must-have compilation for any true R&B fan.

4-0 out of 5 stars The place to start
This is the bare essentials. For those wishing to sample Etta James Hawkins' classic period at Chess Records without going for the box set anthology, this single-disc is the perfect purchase.

Featuring 20 of the tracks that appear on the double-disc "The Essential Etta James", without anything literally essential left off, this is the one-stop, first-time purchase for those who wish to sample Etta's mixture of soul, R&B, blues and, well, pop.
4 1/2 stars. There is no better starting place than this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Etta rocks!!
This Cd is great.Etta can really wail out a tune and put so much emotion into every song.All the songs on this disc are great.I highly recommend it. ... Read more

6. Down in the Basement: Joe Bussard's Treasure Trove of Vintage 78s 1926-1937
list price: $19.98
our price: $14.99
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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 -- 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

7. 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

8. The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
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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

9. The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James
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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

10. 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 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

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

Reviews (9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. 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

13. Fess: The Professor Longhair Anthology
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Asin: B00000334U
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 24465
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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New Orleans' Henry Roeland Byrd wasn't the most polished of all the great R&B pianists of the '40s and '50s, but even Ray Charles and Otis Spann rarely matched his speed. This superb two-disc set repeats the Professor's signature style--a stomping left-hand bass and a right hand that flies all over the place--on classics such as "Tipitina," "Junco Partner," and "Ball the Wall." It begins in the early '50s, when 'Fess called his band Roy Byrd & His Blues Jumpers, and ends with an incredible, stretched-out live version of "Big Chief" (with Dr. John) and "Boogie Woogie" (with fellow New Orleans pianists Allen Toussaint and Tuts Washington).--Steve Knopper ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Many nights at Tip's
No air-conditioning then, and after awhile you didn't even care anymore. With the Professor banging out the musical equal of both sugar and whiskey, life at that moment was pretty damn good there at Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas Street.

Yeah, yeah, you had to be there, but since you probably weren't, here's something for you so you can see what all the fuss is about. A little lagniappe for you at the end, too, with the Professor kickin' it way big with some friends.

Meet you tomorrow at the Camelia for breakfast, cher. . .

5-0 out of 5 stars Rockin' Oldies for the Hardcore Fess' Fan
If you're lookin for a good mix of old school Jazz/Blues tunes, you've come to the right place. Fess' has a good list of classics ranging from hard-hitting Jazz to the soft Blues when you're in the mood. If you've ever wanted Fess' hits on one CD, here you are. Tipitina, Big Chief, Stag-O-Lee, it's all here.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Legend
I have listened to this CD dozens of times in the last few months. Its joyous and uplifting yet still reflects some of the pain in the Professor's life. The little book with pictures and a mini biography that are included are worth the price of the 2 CD set. After listening once, you'll want to head to the Big Easy, stop at Tipitina's, and rub Fess' head for good luck. Those of you who have been there know what I'm talking about. The man is a true legend.

5-0 out of 5 stars hey now baby
I'd never heard note one of Fess' music when I bought this set. My gut said it would be good, and my gut turned out to be Nostradamus. The fact that this guy ever had trouble making ends meet is a testament to how upside down the music industry can be. I try to be sparing with the stars, and there is no doubt that this set deserves all five. This is pure good time music. The man was a party on the piano. I carried the CD with me everywhere I went for the first week I owned it. In my car, in my room, in other people's cars (I insisted, no one complained), in other people's rooms. Jerry Lee Lewis is nothing but watered down 'Fess. Take yours straight.

5-0 out of 5 stars By far the most played CD I own
This music is the richest sounding music the human ear has ever had the pleasure of hearing. From the Hadacol Bounce to Cuttin' out to Tipitina to etc. and beyond, every cut is played with that special Rhumba Boogie shuffle with the Proffessor singing at the top of his lungs. Whooaaahhh Lalalala. A whole lotta uh uh for you. This is the joy music was meant to be. And you too will be a Fess Fan! Just ask Fats Domino and John Bonham. ... Read more

14. The Anthology: 1947-1972
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Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2776
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Muddy Waters should need no introduction. Not only did he provide a name for the world's greatest rock & roll band, but he also created the Chicago electric blues sound that's dominated the genre since he first hit the windy city in the late 1940s. His bands also featured what would become a who's who of electric blues: Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Otis Spann, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and the list goes on. The Anthology covers Waters's most important period: his first years at Chess through the late 1960s. All his best-known songs are featured in their definitive versions, providing the perfect introduction to a blues master who doesn't need one. --Mike Johnson ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential and Influential
This is a new 2 cd anthology which covers Muddy Waters aka McKinley Morganfield's Aristocrat and Chess material from 1947-72. There have been a number of Muddy Waters compilations in the past few years. This set is better buy than the "His Best Vols 1 & 2" compilations. This set contains 50 songs as opposed to 40 on the "His Best" compilations. This anthology contains less material than the Muddy Waters 3 cd box set but the tapes have been remastered for better sound since the box set was released. However, this anthologys fails to include 2 songs from the "His Best" compilations which are among my favorites "She's Into Something" and "You Need Love". The latter song provided the inspiration for Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love". A drawback to this set is there are a few "rarities" which I would have deleted in favor of the aformentioned songs and other favorites like "Blow Wind Blow" (covered by Eric Clapton), "Tell Me Baby" (covered by the Rolling Stones), "I Got A Brand On You" (covered by Johnny Winter), and "Tiger In Your Tank". In addition the second disk clocks in at around 71 minutes, so space was available for more songs. However, this is still an essential compilation.

The music is electric Chicago Blues at its finest. Among the sidemen who appear are Little Walter, Walter Horton, Junior Wells, James Cotton, Paul Butterfield, Jimmy Rogers, Mike Bloomfield, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and many others. This music has influenced the previously mentioned artists as well as such people as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Canned Heat, Rory Gallagher, The Allman Brothers Band, Savoy Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and many others. Blues classics such as "Mannish Boy" "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man", "Got My Mojo Working", "Trouble No More" and others have become staples of both blues and blues/rock performers. Other well known cuts include "Honey Bee" (covered by Stevie Ray Vaughn), "I'm Ready" (covered by Humble Pie), "You Shook Me" (covered by Led Zeppelin), "I Just Want To Make Love To You" (covered by Foghat), "The Same Thing" (covered by the Allman Brothers Band), and "Still A Fool", "I Want To Be Loved" and "Look What You've Done" (all covered by the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones even named themselves after one of Muddy Water's songs "Rollin' Stone" included here. This just scratches the surface of the influence Muddy Waters and his music had on musicians and blues fans alike. If you want a good overview of the Chess years this is an essential compilation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Muddy's best
This is a comprehensive two disc set of the man who defined Chicago blues. Muddy Waters started out in the Delta working as a guitar playing farm hand but moved to Chicago in the 40's, where he took his delta styled playing and plugged in to make a new music that was loud, raucous, and yet retained the subtleties of the Delta. His powerful voice and his slippery slide-guitar influenced the rock and roll generation of Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, who took both their name and their hit "Satisfaction" from Muddy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Whooooeeeee! I finally got this great CD compilation!
I've been dropping hints for about two months to my wife that I wanted this 2 CD set for Christmas. I'll drop the cash for a silly PlayStation 2 game for my son, but I won't spend even half of that to buy this CD for me. Well, my wife was listening because I got it for Christmas and I've been playing it non-stop for two days! The two CDs do a great job of following Muddy's ascent from acoustic guitar backed by bass in the late '40s and early '50s to his electrification that helped shape what we now know as Chicago Blues. All of the tracks are taken from the Chess/MCA recordings, and anything he recorded from '72 until his death 11 years later is missing. But that's OK, I've got most of those CDs anyway... This compilation is put together chronologically and, for once, it's put together with some intelligence. There's not an ounce of filler on either CD, and they use up the available time a CD provides -- CD 1 has 26 tracks and CD 2 boasts 24. CD 1 is great layin' in bed and drifting off to sleep music. CD 2 is great slip-in-my-truck-CD-player material and got me to work in a GREAT mood this morning! I highly recommend this for anyone who doesn't know Muddy's music, or who wants some quality audio -- no muffled sound, peaks and dips, just consistent, high-quality folk/blues and down dirty boogie blues that made McKinley Morganfield the definitive King of the Blues (sorry, B.B., I love ya, but Muddy is the Man!).

5-0 out of 5 stars A superb collection
The handsomely packaged three-disc Chess Box remains the ultimate Muddy Waters-collection, but this amazingly low-priced double-disc anthology is not far behind.

It manages to collect almost all of Waters' best songs, from his early acoustic sides with just bassist Ernest 'Big' Crawford for company, to his hard-rocking 50s and 60s cuts, including literally all the must-have classics:
"Got My Mojo Working" and "Hoochie Coochie Man" are here, as well as "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had", "I Love The Life I Live", "I Just Want To Make Love To You", "I Want To Be Loved", "Honey Bee", "I'm Ready" and "I Can't Be Satisfied".

You can't go wrong with this sublime, well annotated collection of Waters' tough, swaggering blues. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-have for any blues lover
This 2-disk compilation is, very likely, the best blues that you will ever hear. I've been collecting blues CD's for many years, and am kicking myself for waiting this long to get something from Muddy Waters.

The other reviews here are excellent, and I am grateful to Steve and Jef for steering me in the right direction, by suggesting that I get this particular compilation. There are many Muddy compilations out there, and I have to say that this one is excellent. Every song is a gem, and I've been listening to it over and over since I got it. I was surprised at the number of songs that I recognized... most of us are Muddy Waters fans, and don't even know it.

If you love the blues, and particularly guitar blues, then you must get this CD. Believe what the other reviewers have said, this compilation is THAT good. ... Read more

15. It Serves You Right to Suffer
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Asin: B00000JNNV
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 13977
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Originally released on Impulse in 1966, It Serves You Right to Suffer may not contain John Lee Hooker's better-known material, but it does serve up eight tracks of topnotch blues, complete with the boogie groove that Hooker does so well. The digital remastering for this CD is a blessing; the recording sounds almost as clean as one made today. That prevents the listener from being distracted from this album's many delights: the uptempo, low-key "Shake It Baby"; the relaxed but rhythmically tight "Country Boy"; the danceable "Bottle Up & Go"; and the slow, sexy shuffle of "Sugar Mama." Especially worth hearing, however, is the title track, which strikes a perfect tension between musicality and mood. --Genevieve Williams ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best studio Hooker album
This cd is usually found in the cut out bins where it does not belong, this cd smokes anything he has done in the last ten years with all of the multi contributing artist to his 90's work. This cd recorded in 1965 is better than anything Clapton,Page or Stevie Ray ever dreamed of. If you want to find any blues close to this caliber, you are going to have go and buy T Bone Walker's Stormy Monday (live) from 1971 with Paul Pena on guitar or som John Hammond. The only other artist that is alive and writes such brooding blues inflected tunes is Tom Waits.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best blues records you will ever hear- I think
John is great by himself or with a band. This is the perfect example of him with a band. Some of the greatest backing musicians who in no way intrude but only compliment Hooker's style of either driving rythms or slow dinning hypnotizing slow blues. Hooker does only 8 songs at about 32 minutes but all classics. This isn't like when hooker teams up with rockers who maybe were great at what they did but didn't do what Hooker himself did. This is a few musicians who understand Hooker's work and play off him and with him, rather than over him. Shake it baby is Rockin' Blues like Hooker could always do without losing the straight blues soul. Country boy is long story tellin' blues and Bottle up and go is as said in the liner notes- Delta Dance music. You're wrong is pure Hooker style- Rythmic Blues, not Rythm and Blues- Blues with lots of solid rythm. THere is a difference. Sugar Mama, A classic because it takes the old theme that hooker arranged new so long before that and changed it around. Instead of praising the sugar sweet woman- He tells her the praise has gone to her head and he's got a new sugar mama, that's John Lee. Decoration day is one of those blues that rolls around slow on the same chord until it almost drives you crazy. It is an old blues song that is one of the most dark and sad traditional songs. About a woman who tells her man before she dies, to decorate her grave on every Memorial or Decoration day. I think that is basically it anyway. Then a solid Take on Berry Gordy's Money which several bluesmen seem to like and perform. Hooker does it with the same group plus old friend and trombone player for the Basie Band -Dicky Wells doing a just right accompaniment. Then it serves you right to suffer in the same way as Decoration day, is some advice to forget about the past. All in all it is the best example of John with a band backing him. Perfect record I think. In everything he does I think he is one of the most believable bluesmen. He means it when he says it and he's there when he sings it and plays it. I have played this record straight through more than most any other blues record I have.

5-0 out of 5 stars "and one more, and one more, and one more"
For any Blues fan John Lee Hooker is an all too familiar name and this reissue disc shows any who would question his Legend status why he holds the title. Every song is superb, classic Hooker. You'll find yourself playing the album straight through again and again. The best songs here are "Shake It Baby", "Country Boy", "You're Wrong" and the title track "It Serves You Right To Suffer".

A must have album for Blues fans new or old.

5-0 out of 5 stars LESSER KNOWN HOOKER

5-0 out of 5 stars Mr. Hooker is a force to be reckoned with.
If you don't already have this album, then you've got all the sense of a salted tree sloth. ... Read more

16. Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey
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Asin: B0000A0VA1
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 2234
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Album Description

Full title - Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues - A Musical Journey. Five-CD deluxe boxed set includes a comprehensivecollection of the music from the seven films airing on PBS. A definitive overview of blues, from its earliestrecordings over 80 years ago, to contemporary artists andnew recordings made specifically for The Blues. Music fromthe PBS Series The Blues, executive produced by acclaimedfilmmaker Martin Scorsese. 116 tracks on 5 CDs, plus60-page collector's booklet with stunning photos andilluminating essays. Features introductory essay by MartinScorsese. Gatefold digibox. Hip-O Records. 2003. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent blues primer
This is the "Year of the Blues," and "Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues" is as important a contribution as anything I've seen so far in the effort to increase awareness of and appreciation for blues music.

This CD box set is not the soundtrack to the video documentary series. Rather, it is a collection of songs representing the blues through the roughly 80-year history of recorded blues music. While there are some artists who should have been included and weren't, and there are a few selections that are really not appropriate to this collection, overall this is an excellent primer for anyone looking to understand blues music and its evolution.

It would be impossible for any collection to include every artist that is loved by every blues fan. However, most of the truly great and important blues artists are here, including Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Virtually every style of blues is also represented here, from the Mississippi Delta to New Orleans to Texas to Memphis to Chicago and even to Africa. And contrary to the assertions of some previously-posted critiques, the Piedmont style IS represented with Mississippi John Hurt's "Frankie." (While Hurt did not live in the Piedmont Valley area, he was nevertheless one of the most important Piedmont stylists in blues guitar history.)

I do disagree with the inclusion of a few artists whom I do not consider to be blues musicians, such as Jeff Beck and Los Lobos. (Jeff Beck is undeniably a brilliant guitarist, but he is not a blues guitarist.) The absolute worst song in the set is Peggy Scott-Adams' "Bill," a terrible song about a woman who discovers her husband in bed with his gay lover. Aside from the fact that the song is just plain awful, it is also not a blues song. I wonder who was paid off to have it included.

There are also a few omissions of important blues artists. Lightnin' Hopkins was one of the most important blues musicians of the 1950s and '60s but was not included. Little Richard was every bit as important to the creation of rock & roll as Fats Domino and Chuck Berry but is not represented. The omission of Dr. John, perhaps the most important blues pianist of the modern era, is inexplicable. More modern accoustic guitarists like John Hammond, Jr. and the incredible Rory Block should have been included (although the newly-recorded Keb' Mo'/Corey Harris cover of Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago" was almost worth the cost of the box set alone). And if Scorsese wanted a representation of blues-influenced Latino music, Carlos Santana would have been more appropriate than Los Lobos.

Notwithstanding a few flaws, however, this CD box set is an excellent representation of recorded blues history, covering the entire history of the blues and including most of the important artists and styles of this wonderful musical genre. I highly recommend it to anyone who is either desiring to learn about the blues or who is already a blues fan and is simply looking for a good thorough collection of great blues music.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent material representing the entire blues genre!
This is the "comeback year" for the blues and "Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues" as good as good if not better than all blues cds so far. This is really a contribution as anything we've seen so far in the effort to increase awareness of and appreciation for blues music.

The best part is that it's personalized from Scorsese's own liking. People might agree the Rolling Stones should have been included, for instance, but this 116 song piece is not a "best-of the blues". It's more of Martin Scorsese's perspective of what the blues has achieved for America and beyond.

This CD box set is not the soundtrack to the video documentary series. Rather, it is a collection of songs representing the blues through the roughly 80-year history of recorded blues music. This is an excellent primer for anyone looking to understand blues music and its evolution.

It would be impossible for any collection to include every artist that is loved by every blues fan. However, most of the truly great and important blues artists are here, including Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Virtually every style of blues is also represented here, from the Mississippi Delta to New Orleans to Texas to Memphis to Chicago and even to Africa. And contrary to the assertions of some previously-posted critiques, the Piedmont style IS represented with Mississippi John Hurt's "Frankie." Also, Luther Allison and Johnny Winter ARE included also.

There are also a few omissions of important blues artists. Lightnin' Hopkins was one of the most important blues musicians of the 1950s and '60s but was not included. Little Richard was every bit as important to the creation of rock & roll as Fats Domino and Chuck Berry but is not represented. The omission of Dr. John, perhaps the most important blues pianist of the modern era, is near as bad as leaving out the Rolling Stones and their massive love for the blues. More modern accoustic guitarists like John Hammond, Jr. and the incredible Rory Block should have been included (although the newly-recorded Keb' Mo'/Corey Harris cover of Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago" was almost worth the cost of the box set alone). And if Scorsese wanted a representation of blues-influenced Latino music, Carlos Santana would have been more appropriate than Los Lobos.

Notwithstanding a few flaws, however, this CD box set is an excellent representation of recorded blues history, covering the entire history of the blues and including most of the important artists and styles of this wonderful musical genre.

Scorsese does a great job with the layout of the entire 5 disc set. Included is a color print book with song by song explanations co-written by a Grammy Award winning music writer, and many pages portraying blues from the very beginning(1830's) to today. I highly recommend it to anyone who desires learning about the blues, or a fan simply looking for a good thorough collection of great blues music.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not just for the newcomer
This is a box set of 20th Century American music, not the Old Testament! Let the ethnomusicologist completist academic blathering heads debate the merits of inclusion and exclusion - just enjoy the tunes. This is worth it just to have discs for your New Year's Party. Sure Janis was an execrable no-talent and Disc 5 should've been made up entirely of Robert Pete Williams. That guy is so deep blues that I sleep with a kinfe when I listen to him at night! But what is a fellow to do?

5-0 out of 5 stars The Blues
Martin Scosese Presents
The Blues
A Musical Journey

Have you ever known someone that was interested in exploring blues music and came to you asking you for advice on which artists and recordings to start with? If this is a familiar scenario to you and you have made lists as long as your arm of artists and recordings that you hope will steer them on the right path of bluesdom, next time just recommend (or better still hand them) Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues, A Musical Journey (Hip-O Records), the five disc soundtrack to the documentary series that recently aired on PBS. This boxed set is handsomely packaged with a highly informative sixty page booklet that gives you a brief insight into every artist on the discs, along with a break down of every musician playing on each track and a great essay by noted writer Tom Piazza. This truly is a musical journey through the blues, containing over 117 tunes by almost as many artists, beautifully remastered to perfection so that even the oldest of recordings sound like they were cut yesterday. The names and tunes are way too long to list in their entirety but I'll try my best to give an overall and hopefully brief (this I gotta see) overview of each disc's highlights, otherwise this review will run longer than the last Presidential address. Disc One focuses primarily on the blues' entry and acceptance into the musical mainstream of the roaring 20's up to 1930. Oddly enough the disc's opening number "Shortnin" by Othar Turner and The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band is the only one not recorded during that period but serves as a portrait into the roots of the genre and is followed up by a field recording from the Alan Lomax Collection entitled "Long John," which is performed by a group of convicts on a state prison farm in Texas. The first real stars of the blues were women and they are represented by both Smiths, Mamie and Bessie, performing the classics "Crazy Blues," & "Muddy Water," respectively along with Ma Rainey's "Ma' Rainey's Black Bottom," which is probably musical history's first suggestive title. The rest of Disc One reads like a virtual who's who of legends and classic numbers such as:Frank Stokes' "Downtown Blues," Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Match Box Blues", Blind Willie McTells' "Statesboro Blues", Lonnie Johnson's "Guitar Blues" and Son House's "Preachin The Blues." One of the blues' greatest folk tales in the form of Mr. Skip James, who took thirty years off and persued a career in the ministry after his records did not sell well during the early days of the depression opens Disc Two. Considered by many to be a genuis of the early blues, his "Devil Got My Woman," represents that to the fullest extent and is followed by a pair of ultra classics, Leadbelly's "C.C. Rider," & Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go." Disc Two continues its journey through the 1930's with The Lady Day crooning "Billie's Blues," Robert Johnson picking out "Cross Road Blues," and the original Sonny Boy Williamson blasting his way through through his immortal "Good Morning Little School Girl." Halfway through Disc Two we switch decades and are treated to such gems of the 1940's like, Big Bill Broonzy's "Key To The Highway," Tommy McClennon's "Cross Cut Saw," Wynnonie Harris' "Good Rockin Tonight," Louis Jordan's "Let The Good Times Roll," and T-Bone Walker's timeless "Call It Stormy Monday." The 1950's saw the blues enjoy its biggest boom in commercial acceptance and Disc Three is filled to the brim with some of the most memorable and influential tunes that the blues and its artists ever produced. Memphis Slims "Mother Earth,"Percy Mayfield's "Send Me Somone To Love," Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88," and Elmore James' "Dust My Broom," start off Disc Three with a four punch combination that will rock you back on your heels before sending you to the canvas with Little Walter's,"Juke,". This particular disc illustrates the blues giving birth to its baby that they called rock & roll, with Big Mama Thornton's original version of "Hound Dog," (Big Mama made all of about five hundred dollars off this recording and died pretty much broke while some truck driver from Memphis made millions with the same tune, go figure!) Smiley Lewis' "I Hear You Knockin," Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love," Fats Dominoe's "Blue Monday," and the timeless rock & roll anthem, Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." Also included on Disc Three are classics like The Wolf's "Smokestack Lightnin," Muddy's "Hoochie Coochie Man," Bobby Bland's "Further On Up The Road," and Sonny Boy Wialliamson's (Rice Miller) Don't Start Me To Talkin." Disc Four gives us an intricate look at the state of the blues in the 1960's and the influence that it had on both American and British rock artists who were weaned on the tunes of the masters. The Jeff Beck Group's cover of Willie Dixon's "Ain't Superstitious," features a very young Rod Stewart on lead vocals while John Mayall's Bluesbreakers cover of "All Your Love," has a young Eric Clapton playing lead. Fleetwood Mac (gee did they once play the blues?) turns in a crushing version of "Black Magic Woman," with the twin guitars of Jeremy Spencer & Peter Green. Meanwhile back on home soil Bob Dylan tears through "Highway 61 Revisted," while Hendrix converts legions of rock & rollers with "Red House," and Janis Joplin and The Butterfield Blues Band do the same with "One Good Man," and "I've Got A Mind To Give Up Livin," respectively. While the rock genre was enlightening a new generation, John Lee Hooker recorded "Boom Boom," Albert Collins cut "Frosty," and Junior Wells released his signature "Hoodoo Man Blues." Etta James' "Tell Mama," turned a few heads and a new female singer by the name of Koko Taylor who was discovered by Willie Dixon raised a few million eyebrows with "Wang Dang Doodle." The 60's were a turbulent time for America and the impact that the blues made during that period is still being felt today throughout rock & roll. Disc Five begins in 1969 with B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone," and closes with the recently recorded acoustic duet of Corey Harris & Keb Mo doing the prettiest cover of "Sweet Home Chicago," that it's been my pleasure to hear in quite some time. In between these two classic numbers, the 70's,80's 90's right up to present day is represented by a wide spectrum of artists and styles whose music has forever effected the blues' direction. Johnny Winter's "Dallas," Derek and The Dominoes' "Have You Ever Loved a Woman," The Alman Bothers "One Way Out," and Hound Dog Taylors' "Give me Back My Wig," represent the 70's which pretty much was dominated by hard rock and is considered one of the toughest decades for post WWII blues. But, being as hard times is what the genre founded its roots in, the blues treaded water in a swirling sea of hard rock and disco. The 80's are represented by a young man who is credited with kicking the music industry in its ass and making them take the blues seriously again, Mr. Stevie Ray Vaughn. One of his best tunes "Pride and Joy,"is included here along with big brother Jimmie Vaughn's band,The Fabulous Thunderbirds' "Tuff Enough." Also from the 80's is Robert Cray's "Smoking Gun," and a duet of "I'm In the Mood," between John Lee Hooker & Bonnie Raitt from his monumentous The Healer album. The 90's get a well rounded look with Luther Allison's "Cherry Red Wine," Peggy Scott Adam's "Bill," (which is a totally new spin on the old cheating lover scenario) Keb Mo's "Am I Wrong," and Susan Tedeschi's "Just Won't Burn." Three other recent recordings in addition to "Sweet Home Chicago," are included with the best being the live duet between Robert Cray and Shemeika Copeland exploding on "I Pity The Fool." Cassandra Wilson's gorgeous voice gives new meaning to J.B. Lenoir's "Vietnam Blues," while Bonnie Raitt does ample justice to his "Round & Round," and Los Lobos does the same to his "Voodoo Music." This is the end of the journey blues fans. Well for now anyway. You can sort of look at this set as one hell of a roadmap to one of the best musical journeys you can possibly make with the rest of the journey being all around you as you read this. This is probably the best chronological record ever assembled of the music that changed the face of American music forever as the selections both mentioned and not mentioned in this review are the best of the best. Alot of you may already have a great deal of these recordings that are included here in some form or another, but it's the combination of the choice of selections and the remastering that make this package a must for every blues fan whether they are just learning about the blues or are already lifelong fans. Being a five disc set can mean it can be a bit on the pricey side, but I found it for around forty eight dollars at a couple of membership warehouse stores and it was worth every cent. With the holidays approaching it would make a completely awesome gift for the blueslover in your life or perhaps even yourself. This is one journey you will want to take several times.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Best Blues Collection?... Hardly....
I don't claim to be a Blues expert by any means, who is? ...but this collection could have been something really special if more of the unknown artists from the past and present were included here. Yeah, we all know about Jimi, Stevie Ray, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, etc. Why do we need to have them represented here again? Some of the newer artists included here hardly earned their dues and a few others shouldn't even be on this recording at all. Oh well..., what can you say except that life isn't fair which is what the blues is all about anyway. That doesn't mean you need to accept this collection as the blues gospel by any means! Where's the Junior Kimbrough and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown? Where's the Luther Allison and James Solberg? I can go on and ask why but what sense would that make? Anyone who wants to own one of the best unknown ripping guitar, whiskey soaked vocals, ultra cool organ & rhythm tight CD's ever, buy James Solbergs "See that my grave is kept clean". If you want something really special, buy anything by Junior Kimbrough. If you want something that we've all heard before with a lot of it being mediocre then buy Mr. Scorsese Presents the Blues. Otherwise, check out the web sites for Shanachie Entertainment, Alligator Records, Blind Pig, Rounder/Bulls Eye Blues, Blues Bureau International/Shrapnel for links into the real blues crossroads where past and future meet head on! Oh yeah, let's not forget about Johnny Winter and Rory Gallagher either!! ... Read more

17. King of Delta Blues Singers
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Asin: B00000AG6X
Catlog: Music
Sales Rank: 5019
Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars
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If there is a recording that is required listening for every blues fan, it's this one. Robert Johnson wasn't just King of the Delta blues; he was one of its founding fathers, and these re-mastered tunes are as timeless and important today as they were all those years ago. The songs that passed into the blues canon, to be covered by countless guitarists over the years, are here: "Crossroad Blues," "Preaching Blues," "Come On In My Kitchen," "Walking Blues," and more. And on this particular version of this often-reissued recording, there's an additional treat: a previously unreleased version of "Traveling Riverside Blues." Absolutely essential. --Genevieve Williams ... Read more

Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Blues start here..
Which much anticipation and a little trepidation I decided to pick up "King of the Delta Blues Singers". It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was a nice surprise.

If you're a fan of the modern electric blues, you may be disappointed, as Johnson sang the blues with only his guitar. What he lacks in a backup band, he more than makes up for with a soulful voice, and great guitar playing. You can really hear the emotion pouring out of this man.

If you have an open mind and want to experience where the blues came from, you can't go wrong with this album. The two versions of "Traveling Riverside Blues" are worth the price alone.

On a side note, this could be on my copy only, but on some of the songs there may be a noticeable hissing sound, I guess it's understandable with these classic recordings being so old, and it shouldn't prevent you from enjoying them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Top Influence
Robert Johnson is without doubt the most influential musician of the 20th century. Many of the greatest rock bands of the later century such as Led Zepplin, Aerosmith, The Beatles a more recent the White Stripes my personal favorite the Rolling Stones and many more paid there debt to him. You will still hear some of his lyrics in much of todays music. I recommend this to anyone who listens to rock and/or blues because of how important Robert Johnson is to our music society. The 29 songs on this album are all of the songs Robert Johnson recorded in his short life. I am grateful that this music continues to be produced and that it is appreciated by so many people. For many this could be a new discovery. It has intriuged me since the day i first heard of Robert Johnson in the 1980's movie Crossroads. I rate this album with five stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars ALMOST TOO GOOD FOR ME
Please, pardon my unskilled grammar and punctuation (and possibly, spelling).

I bought the Robert Johnson Boxed set years ago, because I felt it was a recording that you were supposed to have, if you considered yourself a true music obsess - o - file, but I later sold it, because I "did not get it." I knew of Johnson's mystique and reputation, but I could not connect with the "genius" thing that surrounded his music. Well, just about a month ago, I thought I would give Robert Johnson another try, so I purchased this album. And this time, "i got it."

I can only describe the multi dimensionality of these songs, which had previously escaped me, as staggering. You feel you are listening to the very architecture of almost every popular music style we hear today. What I find most amazing about his songs, is that you are almost convinced that you are listening to 3 guitar players and 2 or 3 singers, harmonizing with unreal precision. His voice jumps between registers, in such a way as to suggest there is another singer between them, much like one watches "2 frames of a film," but sees the magic of the "1 moving picture."

The relationship between the cords he is playing and the finger picking, again, seem to connect and relate in such a way as to suggest there are more fingers and chords being played than can be played with only 2 hands, and with unbelievable ease. He plays like he doesn't even have to think about it. And it all sounds freakishly "time nonspecific", as if he were playing, in the past, while copying his own sounds, from the present, like they were actually being written and defined today, and he was prophesying. I guess that would be the dictionary definition of "timeless." I find myself stuck between studying his songs from an objective point of view, and listening to them from a music fan point of view.

And his lyrics have a sophistication that belie his level of education. As if you are hearing the equations of very high brow poetry, filled in with the figures and variables of Johnson's substantially more modest and bleak cultural experience. And there is a genuine joy in his voice. THAT, I did not expect. As if he is saying "I CAN PLAY AND I AM BEING RECORDED AND LOWDY, MAMA! I AM A SOMEBODY!"

I naturally have to recommend this recording, but I would advise the newbie to the Johnson sound to, not "force" him or her self to see the brilliance of his work. That was what I was doing the first time around, and I missed it. It was only when I gave it permission to reveal itself, that Johnson's genius came forth.

And in all honesty, I don't really "enjoy" all these songs, as much as I marvel at all these songs. I listen with a distant awe, rather than from the perspective of personal taste. But I hope that over time, I will begin to enjoy this recording as I enjoy many of my favorite modern artists, of today. So, do purchase this album and give Mr. Johnson a go at it, but don't get down on yourself if you don't immediately hear what all the accolades are about. It took me 2 tries and 10 years to "get it."

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing sound
This is the official 1998 CD edition of the first-ever Robert Johnson compilation, issued by Columbia in 1961.
It has been remastered off the best-quality original 78s available, and Johnson's guitar takes on a fullness never heard on previous reissues (the equalization on this disc is extreme to a degree where it even sports some minute turntable rumble in the low end).

I still say that there is no really good reason to buy this CD instead of Columbia's 1990 box set "The Complete Recordings", but if you are looking for a single-disc overview, this one has almost all of Johnson's best songs (with the notable exception of "Sweet Home Chicago" and "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom"), and the sound quality is truly amazing. I have the box set, but I also have this CD, actually. The remastering is that good.

5-0 out of 5 stars superceded by the complete collection
This was the first of two single vinyl albums of Johnson's work reissued by Columbia in the 1960s that brought about the revival. However, for years this has been superceded by the complete collection of his work, the two volumes plus several outakes. Look for this here on Amazon. You will need the complete collection because, not only is it not much more, but once you hear even one track, you will want to hear it all, all of of it. ... Read more

18. Avalon Blues : Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings
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Asin: B000002AEN
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Sales Rank: 5232
Average Customer Review: 4.84 out of 5 stars
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Mississippi John Hurt recorded 13 country-blues songs for the Okeh Electric Records company in 1928. Then he vanished. Actually, he never went anywhere. Indeed, he never strayed from his hometown of Avalon, Mississippi. He simply put the guitar down. It was the Great Depression, times were tough, money was scarce, and he needed to work. Nearly 30 years later, a blues enthusiast tracked him down, took him back to Washington, D.C., and suddenly Mississippi John's musical career resumed as quickly as it had finished. He recorded again, but these first songs from the late 1920s--with John's melancholy voice and hypnotic guitar playing at its most inspired--are his greatest musical accomplishments. --Percy Keegan ... Read more

Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars A treasury of the music of the 20th century
Mississippi John Hurt (1893-1966) is a strange man in the blues history.In fact, he's not really a blues musician,but rather, like his elder, Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter,1889-1949), a songster.He was a small, gentle man, who recorded these 13 sides in the twenties, and waited until the early sixties to be rediscovered;during the last years of his life,he toured,playing at Newport and other festivals, and recorded several albums, mostly for Vanguard.I always found that Hurt's voice was one of the most fascinating I ever heard; a swinging,mild voice,that tells a lot about the graciousness of the man.His guitar picking,which looks like beeing simple,is in fact one of the most difficult and original I ever heard.I wish I had such a thumb to play the bass parts on my guitar ! John Hurt plays some tunes that were already old tunes in 1928 : the haunting "Louis Collins",the eternal "Stack o'Lee",the classic "Candy man"(you can listen to outstanding versions of this tune by Reverend Gary Davis),some sacred tunes,"blessed be the name","praying on the old camp ground",and some blues,"Avalon blues","big leg blues",or "spike driver blues".By the way, Hurt was rediscovered in the early sixties because he recorded that tune,"Avalon blues".Listening to it,some people went to this town,hoping that he still was living there.Mississippi John Hurt is a master in the music of the past century,reaching the same rank as Blind Willie Johnson,Charley Patton or Skip James.His 1928 sessions will allways remain some of the greatest masterpieces in the blues history.I personnaly enjoy his music for more than twenty years,and I hope you'll do the same.

5-0 out of 5 stars Everlasting Blues
This cd, which represents the complete 1928 recordings of Mississippi John Hurt is truly blues everlasting. It is amazing to realize when listening to this that it was recorded that long ago. The quality of the songs, John Hurt's voice and his guitar playing skill are all superb.

As other's have mentioned John Hurt was born in 1892, and developed notoriety for his skills as a musician. He was recorded in 1928 and then vanished into the farmlands of Mississippi. With the resurgence of folk and blues music in the early 1960's many so-called lost artists were "rediscovered." Mississippi John Hurt was among these musicians. Rediscovered by a young blues enthusiast Tom Hoskins, who took a clue from a line in one of Hurt's songs "Avalon's my home, always on my mind" to track him down. From that time until his death in 1966 Hurt became a fixture on the folk circuit.

It really is not surprising that he was so well received in the 60's when one looks at this cd which represents Mississippi John's early work. It includes many truly classic songs, Frankie, Stack O'Lee, Candy Man, Spike Driver Blues and Nobody's Dirty Business. Lines such as "he was a bad man, cruel Stack o' Lee." "He was her man and he done her wrong" "angels laid him away," "You're so heavy make a good man change his mind" and "take this hammer, carry it to the captain" demonstrate the richness of both the folk tradition and Hurts music. Artists such as Jerry Garcia, Arlo Guthrie, Taj Mahal and Jesse Colin Young have felt compelled to perform his songs.

His voice is pure, sweet and pleasing. While it does not carry the angst of such early performers as Charley Patton and Robert Johnson, it's honesty is copied by others. His guitar playing is amazing and this alone could carry the cd. Artist who have been influenced by his style are Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Sonny Landreth.

For those who are interested in folk, blues, the history of modern music or any of the artists mentioned this is a worthwhile cd to have.

4-0 out of 5 stars Silky smooth vocals, gorgeous guitar, psychotic lyrics.
This truly is a treasure of early 20th century music. And the story of Mississippi John Hurt's "discovery" and renewed career at the end of his life in the 1960's is just wonderful. For his guitar playing skills the man is probably a virtuoso or a genius - or both. The syncopated fingerpicking is as delicate and intricate as a finely sewn needlework. And his voice is gentle and sweet. Musically it is easy to listen to and riveting at the same time. But - there is a catch here . . . in some of these songs, juxtaposed against the gentleness of the playing and singing, are lyrics that will make your jaw drop in shock at their sheer brutality. Some seem like they were written by a psychopath. He sings to a jaunty ragtime accompaniment in his sweet gentle voice: "one of these days I'm gonna wake up boozy, grab a gun and kill my Suzie". Regardless of where or when it was written - how on earth did this guy figure this was good subject matter for a song? And he isn't being metaphorical. Even weirder is that thrown into the mix are some "spiritual" songs. I mean - one minute the guy's gonna kill his baby (and thinks that no one else should be concerned about it) and the next - he's praisin' the lord. Lyrically, this is stuff Charles Manson would relate to. In any event, the music is superb and most of the songs have relatively "normal" lyrics. The fingerstyle guitar playing is amazing and it alone makes this an album worth getting. Just tune out the bizarre lyrics in some of the songs. Four and a half stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gently rockin' blues...
This cd has a variety it is no doubt blues, however Hurt is more versitile then just a blues singer, he is a masterful guitar player, who picks ragtime melodies, and sings folksy style, while gently rocking both vocally and instrumentaly.

Hurt was ahead of his time by 30 years, before the folk music scene was huge in the 60's, also he was looking back 20 years to the 1910's and ragtime. An interesting mix 1n 1928 lookin to the past and the future ta make some great original and truly unique and from the heart warming blues.

An essential cd is the bottom line

5-0 out of 5 stars Gentle and Timeless
Mississippi John Hurt possessed a gentle and timeless voice and guitar playing skill. His guitar work is considered to be some of the greatest, and most complicated, in all of American music, and his voice is immediately soothing to even the savage beast. Songs like "Frankie," "Ain't No Tellin'," and "Avalon Blues" will surely leave many students of guitar simply breathless. To those who do not play any musical instruments, his flowing guitar technique is still dazzling, and his voice is more "homey" and "likeable" than perhaps anyone else's, even the great Louis Armstrong's. As a darling of the Blues/Folk Revival of the 1960s, Hurt often played the Pre-War songs we hear on this disc, and almost just as well as he did back in the old days, one might add. This is a great disc for both the musician and the listener in us all. ... Read more

19. Fathers and Sons [Expanded]
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Asin: B00005R8GU
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Sales Rank: 5746
Average Customer Review: 4.94 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best blues album I have ever heard!!!
This is CD is awesome!!! Muddy Waters (the greatest blues singer of all time) is amazing, and the band rocks! Paul Butterfield plays the meanest harmonica you'll ever hear, Michael Bloomfield is a blues guitar MASTER, and Otis Spann is THE blues pianist. The songs are rerecordings of Muddy's earlier singles, but they are wonderful, even better than the originals. Any one who likes Muddy Waters or blues in general must own this album. It's possibly one of the finest blues albums ever recorded and the best collaboration between a blues singer and white rock musicians. Buy it!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent expanded re-issue
This is probably the best of the "senior musician meets and plays with eager young fan"-projects of the sixties and seventies blues revival.

Blues legend Muddy Waters and his piano player Otis Spann, with veteran Sam Lay behind the drum kit, teamed up with three young white musicians to record this 1969 album: Guitarist Michael Bloomfield, bassist Donald 'Duck' Dunn (of Booker T & the Memphis Group), and harpist Paul Butterfield.
And the results are magnificent. 26-year old Paul Butterfield shows off some truly excellent harmonic playing, Dunn is rock-solid and funky, and the combined forces of Bloomfield and Muddy Waters himself produces some terrific guitar playing.

The sound is great, too, and Otis Spann (who is supposedly one of the "Fathers" of the album's title, even though he was only in his late 30s at the time) plays some of the best blues piano you'll ever hear.

Highlights include the tough, swinging "Blow Wind Blow" and "I'm Ready", the supremely groovy slow blues "Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had", the catchy "Forty Days And Forty Nights", Eddie Boyd's "Twenty-Four Hours", and the up-tempo rendition of "Sugar Sweet", which really shows off Otis Spann's masterful boogie piano playing.

Then comes four previously unreleased cuts, which aren't rejects by any means, although they didn't make the original double-LP, and six live tracks recorded on April 24th 1969 with the same band which had cut the studio tracks during the previous three days.
Muddy Waters' vocals on the slow slide-guitar workout "Long Distance Call" are sublime, and Butterfield's playing on the classic "Baby Please Don't Go" is pure Little Walter.
Out comes the bottleneck again for a grand rendition of "Honey Bee", followed by Willie Dixon's "The Same Thing" and an eight-minute take on "Got My Mojo Working", much to the delight of the crowd.

Not all attempts to "update" a blues artists sound were succesful, but this one is not only a succes, it is an excellent album which genuine adds to the legacy of Muddy Waters.

5-0 out of 5 stars this album rates at least 6 stars
this is a real kick-ass, get-down, blues album. Stop reading the reviews.......go hear the album

5-0 out of 5 stars If I could give it 6 stars...
I have about 100 CD's of the blues. Bands from A to Z. And this one right now is #1 on my list. Put this CD on in the car with a bunch of your boys liquored up and heading out, and you will have everyone tapping their feet and jamming. Everysong is 5 stars. If I had to pick one CD to listen to for a long car ride, like NYC to LA, and could take only one album for the ride, this would be it. Right now I don't even think my #2 CD is even in the same stratosphere with "Fathers and Sons". I hope this review encourages you to buy the CD, you will not regret it. I guarantee it.

5-0 out of 5 stars not much i can add.....
the results are almost unanimous ***** for this gigantic piece of work which has been in my collection [and in my brain] since 1970. you should buy it. but just for the's not the paul butterfield band backing - it's mr. butterfield and mr. bloomfield only of that troupe doing inspired work each....i'm here to tell ya that the cd notes are quite an improvement on the original 2-lp liner notes, which were non-existent....other reviewers have given their favorites, none of which is "long distance call" which is mine [dig the finish]....and also dig the double harp work on "all aboard" [first track] - only work i know of mr. jeff carp, but a fine piece it is....did i mention that you should buy it? ... Read more

20. The Complete Studio Recordings
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Sales Rank: 2490
Average Customer Review: 4.64 out of 5 stars
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Gentle, graceful, subtle, sweet--these aren't descriptions generally applied to the blues, but they offer a sense of Mississippi John Hurt's uniqueness and enduring legacy. Rediscovered during the 1960s folk boom after last recording in the late 1920s, Hurt cut the three albums compiled here when he was in his early 70s. His conversational phrasing sounds as natural as breathing, while his ragtime-tinged fingerpicking on acoustic guitar reveals more complexity the closer you listen. Beyond blues classics like "Candy Man" (the sly sensualist wasn't referring to lollipops), Hurt's range encompasses everything from folkish narratives ("Talking Casey," "Spike Driver Blues") to Southern spirituals ("Nearer My God to Thee," "Farther Along"). Though Hurt died in 1966, shortly after the last of these sessions, the music still sounds so fresh, you can almost hear the twinkle in his eye. --Don McLeese ... Read more

Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Intimate, Powerful, and Melodic
This collection has all of the studio recordings done by John Hurt for Vanguard in the early '60's, after he was "rediscovered" by folk blues enthusiasts. Hurt's legendary finger-picking style, which inspired the likes of Doc Watson, simply blows me away. His voice is a little weaker on this album than on the 1928 Okeh recordings, but he still has a commanding presence. He lets his guitar do a lot of the talking for him. Hurt is, quite simply, a musical genius. Don't pass by the chance to hear him loud and clear!

5-0 out of 5 stars Smooth as sweet wine.....
Mississippi John Hurt is one of the great blues man whose story seems to fit that romantic myth of what the blues and blues man are all about. He recorded music into the late 1920's (see 1928 Sessions released by Yazoo and Avalon Blues : Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings) and then disappeared back into the misty roads of Mississippi to be all but forgotten like so many others.

Then in 1963, Tom Hoskins and Mike Stewart, two young blue musicians from Washington, D.C. came across Hurt's 1928 Okeh recordings and decided to try to find some of the great old blues men, including Mississippi John Hurt. Using his song Avalon Blues as a starting point, they searched all the maps looking for Avalon, Mississippi. However, no town was found. Finally, an 1878 atlas listed Avalon as a rural road in Mississippi between the small towns of Greenwood and Grenada. Taking a chance, they went to Mississippi to find John Hurt. Stopping at a gas station near the area where Avalon was supposed to be, they asked the attendant if by chance he knew John Hurt. The attendant said sure, "about a mile down the road, third mailbox up the hill." Sure enough, they found him. John Hurt went with them back to Washington, D.C. and recorded and toured during the GREAT Blues revival of the 1960's until his death in 1966.

What a story!!! However, the music is the real treasure. Mississippi John Hurt possessed one of the truly great voices in Blues/Country music. Full of warmth, gentleness and power, he tells stories of times and events long since gone. Mixed with his crisp and attractive guitar work, Mississippi John Hurt is one of the GREAT storytellers of all time.

The packaging of three albums, Today!, The Immortal Mississippi John Hurt and Last Sessions, together for around $20 is an absolute steal. You will love these albums. Close the doors, turn out the lights and just listen and enjoy. Then check out the other recordings of this great artist.

5-0 out of 5 stars Smooth as Silk...but Twice as Durable
It's hard to imagine acoustic finger-picking blues being any smoother, yet heartfelt, than this. This fabulously mastered collection assembles the three studio albums MJH recorded in the 70's following his "rediscovery". The music, sound, and feeling is all there - and it's an absolute PLEASURE to listen to - pop and scratch free - as it was recorded with relatively modern equipment in the 70's.
MJH's intricate and beautifully styled finger-picking represents a degree of confidant mastery that perhaps could only be created by 40 years of playing in relative obscurity working to please only yourself...and his engaging vocals compliment seamlessly.
These three disks are like a favorite sweater on a cool night, comfortably warm, and the fit is just right.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding music and remixing
Not only is this the definitive box set of the definitive 20th century blues man, but it's exceeedingly well mastered. Every facet of the guitar sound comes through clear as crystal. This is a must have for any blues or rock aficionado.

5-0 out of 5 stars The this *and* the 1928 Okeh sessions
MJH was a wonderful singer and fluid fingerstyle guitarist. I can't think of another artist where the guitar and voice are so perfectly matched. It sounds so natural and organic, but of course it took MJH years of practice to perfect his style. During that time, he played mostly for his own enjoyment and that of his neighbors -- he knew he was good, but he had no idea that anyone was interested in his songs. The fact that his 1928 recordings didn't sell well probably confirmed in his mind that his music would be made just for his own enjoyment.

I have just about everything released by MJH. He is my favorite country blues artist. To my ears, these Vanguard studio recordings are his best-sounding, best-produced, and best-performed material. These are the recordings I go back time and time again. [...]

Also check out his 1928 Complete Okeh Recordings to find out the birth of the legend. Terrific performances -- MJH played a little faster in his younger days -- and great sound quality for the era. ... Read more

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