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You have to hand it to the former bassist of the “The Rolling Stones” for immersing himself into this comprehensive and meticulously annotated project that started with a 400-page book and two-hour film documentary. Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey is about those who furthered early American roots music. This production features a 24-page booklet filled with photographs and Wyman’s often-insightful observations and mini-bios on a per artist basis. Needless to state, Wyman’s offering serves as an admirable payback to a genre that seemingly provided him with good fortune.
Wyman traces the popularity of the Blues, hearkening back to folks such as vocalist, Mamie Smith and her 1926 recording, “Goin’ Crazy With The Blues.” Whereas, the great Bessie Smith’s 1927 recording of “Lock and Key” is included along with Wyman’s brief iteration of the legendary singer’s boozing and sexual inclinations. Furthermore, some of these musicians only cut anywhere from three to ten sides. For example did you know that guitarist; Blind Blake was a big star for the “Paramount” record label? Also featured are pieces by one of the few Bluesmen from the State of Montana; hence, the excellent yet under-recorded boogie woogie, pianist Montana Taylor who cut only four sides prior to World War II. Wyman also gives us a glimpse of relatively obscure musicians: Frankie “Half-Pint” Jackson, Texan, Rob Cooper and many others. However, the auteur traces the lineage in chronological order while consummating the set with some of the early works of B.B King, Elmore James, Joe Turner, Muddy Waters and many more. Overall, Blues Odyssey is an important document and should be considered a must-have for the astute observer of the Blues, while this release also looms as a significant educational tome. Recommended.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.