Various Artists: Now This is What We Call The Blues Vol. 420 (2002)
...A Big Record Label with a Sense of Humor and a large stable of talented artists.
This disc sports the subtitle "13 Songs That Never Went Near A Chart". That is funny considering its antithetical attitude when compared to the popular NOW (That’s What I Call Music ) series (NOW up to its Volume 11). This is not Telarc Blues’s first compilation. Before NOW (Blues), the label released From Matrimony to Alimony: Blues for Good Love Gone Bad (Telarc Blues 83565, 2002), A Salute to the Delta Blues Masters (Telarc Blues 83575, 2002), and In the Pocket: A Taste of Blues Harmonica (Telarc Blues 83556, 2002). All have been well received (no surprise considering the slew of fine artists the label represents. Add to this combination of talent and material an element of levity, and you have the present very fine assembly of artists and songs.
One thing that this fun compilation does this spotlight the serious lack of guitar heroes in popular music. Popular music radio (what at one time would have been called Top 40) can brag on no great guitarists who can toss off impressive solos like Lord Byron could throw off great verse. This is not so with the Blues. Tinsley Ellis, Tab Benoit; Jim Thackery; Joe Louis Walker, and Ronnie Earl, all who appear on this recording, can plow a row with their guitar playing. That is heartening during this particularly dry period of no outstanding lead guitar players.
Another positive aspect of this collection is the depth and the breadth of blues types represented. The vast majority are not of the true twelve-bar variety. They are much more "Rhythm and Blues" or what we might call "Soul." In a spectacularly bass-akwards way, this collection details the evolution of Blues into Rhythm and Blues into Soul. The Rural Blues flavor is provided by Annie Raines and Paul Rishell’s spiritual "I Shall Not Be Moved" (from the compilation ( Down the Dirt Road: The Songs of Charlie Patton, Telarc Blues 83535) and Paul Geremia’s twelve-string slide guitar tsunami "Get Right Church" (from the compilation Preachin’ the Blues: The songs of Mississippi Fred McDowall, Telarc Blues 83536). Moving from rural to city, Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery, either together or alone, provide an expansive view of the blues. It is this pair that provide the most devastating blues on the disc, "Nice and Warm" from their recording Whiskey Store (Telarc Blues 83559). James Cotton performs his famous "The Creeper," approaching the ghost of Walter Jacobs gingerly. Colin Linden closes the disc with his rural interpretation of Lennon/McCartney’s "Blackbird" from The Blues White Album (Telarc Blues 83553).
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Track Listing: Hell Or High Water; Fast And Free; The Creeper; Get Right Church; Hard Times; Big River; Nice And Warm; I Shall Not Be Moved; In The Morning; Twenty-Five Days; Where
Personnel: Tinsley Ellis; Tab Benoit; James cotton; Paul Geremia; the Hoodoo Kings; Charlie Musselwhite; Jimmy Thackery; Annie Raines; Paul Rishell; Joe Louis Walker; Luther Johnson; Colin Liden.
Record Label: Telarc Records