Charlie Musselwhite: Best of the Vanguard Years
Though Musselwhite's remaining output for Vanguard only consisted of three more solo albums and some limited work as a sideman, his stint with the label was one of the most fruitful periods of his career. Besides Stand Back, Musselwhite also recorded another classic release for Vanguard, Tennessee Woman (1969). Of the 20 tracks collected on this retrospective CD, 11 are lifted from those two great releases. These 11 cuts are far and away the CD's high points. Also nice are two tunes from John Hammond's So Many Roads (1965).
The remainder of this retrospective is mostly mediocre, but considering 13 out of 20 tracks are excellent, the album is a decent buy. I've never been thrilled with Musselwhite's singing, but I love his harp work. Musselwhite's best music has a spiritual quality without being religious. That vibe is certainly amplified by Barry Goldberg's churchy organ on the first five cuts here (from Stand Back ). Particularly stirring is Musselwhite's interpretation of the jazz instrumental Christo Redemptor. There are also plenty of fast-rockin' cuts in the collection. All in all, Best of is a fine introduction to one of the blues' greatest harmonicats.
Record Label: Vanguard Records