Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

237

Various Artists: Rough Guide to the Blues

By

Sign in to view read count
It's not clear whether this CD has been compiled with the idea of it being listened to or as some kind of token or souvenir. You can have your own copy of Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues," the first ever Blues recording? It would have been better, in representing the so-called Classic Blues, to have included Ida Cox or Chippie Hill—blues more likely to appeal to somebody who goes for Muddy Waters, rather than vaudevillian ladies.

The set seems to have been put together by finding a list of celebrities of the blues and including one track each, without listening to them.

Lemon Jefferson and Charley Patton are (obviously!) obvious choices, dubbings leased from Document Records and the sound as good as you'll find. The same can't be said of some of the more recent recordings. There's Memphis Minnie, but why specifically Robert Johnson? It would have been better to have sampled one of his associates—say Junior Lockwood—and pointed out how wonderful some of these men were, with a note about style.

It seems that if hackneyed choices could be made here, they were. Big Bill Broonzy's "Key To The Highway" is obvious, and "Roll 'Em, Pete" (Pete Johnson with Big Joe Turner) is terrific Kansas City blues, but no substitute for representing a mainstream blues and barrelhouse pianist.

Post-war, the Chess group of labels recorded classics by people famous enough to get included here. The artists, however, are represented by recordings from other sources, and well below par. The substitutions are inferior—Muddy Waters from a relatively late period concert with a noisy audience; Howlin' Wolf a bad choice from 1953, Sonny Boy Williamson number two with a young English band, one of them singing but not named (the set is also rather short on information). Buddy Guy's "I Can't Quit You Baby" is another inferior-sourced item.

Presumably someone thought that if it's T-Bone Walker, the choice must be "Stormy Monday." His most famous song, yes, but an inferior version here. Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right" is okay, and you can hear how little Elvis Presley needed to add. "It Hurts Me Too" is an obvious Elmore James selection, though not the best sound. John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" should not have been preferred to the brooding, smoldering dark magnificence of his early recordings.

It's hard to believe that the same principles apply almost all through this compilation, achieving a remarkable consistency in needless mediocrity. There are also little things in the notes like the notion that B.B. King's style summed up blues guitar hitherto. If your ears don't tell you that ain't right, B.B. himself has spoken of the influences of Slim Gaillard, Charlie Christian; and Django Reinhardt.

I'll say nothing about the rest, except that the one idea of any worth was to include, as a final track, a sample from African Ali Farka Touré, relatively recently deceased and much missed. Too late.

Track Listing: Crazy Blues (Mamie Smith); Black Snake Moan (Blind Lemon Jefferson); Pony Blues (Charley Patton); Me And My Chauffeur Blues (Memphis Minnie); Crossroad Blues (Robert Johnson); Broke Down Engine Blues (Blind Willie McTell)); Key To The Highway (Big Bill Broonzy); Roll 'Em Pete (Pete Johnson); Mannish Boy (Muddy Waters); Come Back Home (Howlin' Wolf); They Call It Stormy Monday Blues (T-Bone Walker); That's All Right (Arthur Crudup); It Hurts Me Too (Elmore James); Boom Boom (John Lee Hooker); Ain't Nobody Home (B.B. King); Night Time Is The Right Time (Sonny Boy Williamson); I Can't Quit You Baby (Buddy Guy); Born Under A Bad Sign (Albert King); Ice Pick (Albert Collins); Give Me Back My Wig (Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers); Goin' Down South (R.L. Burnside/Lyrics Born); Erdi (Ali Farka Tour

Personnel: Mamie Smith; Blind Lemon Jefferson; Charley Patton; Memphis Minnie; Robert Johnson; Blind Willie McTell; Big Bill Broonzy; Pete Johnson & Joe Turner; Muddy Waters; Howlin

Title: Rough Guide to the Blues | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: World Music Network

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Sleepers Wake

Sleepers Wake

Various Artists
Snowfall

Winter Waltz

Winter Waltz

Various Artists
Winter: An Origin Records...

Album Reviews
Read more articles
The Social Power of Music

The Social Power of...

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
2019

buy
Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Jazz Fest: The New...

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
2019

buy
La Casa Murada MoonJune Sessions, Volume 1

La Casa Murada...

MoonJune Records
2019

buy
Spiritual Jazz 9: Blue Notes Parts 1 & 2

Spiritual Jazz 9:...

Jazzman Records
2019

buy
Putumayo Presents: Ska Around the World

Putumayo Presents:...

Putumayo World Music
2018

buy

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Read When Will The Blues Leave Album Reviews
When Will The Blues Leave
By Karl Ackermann
May 22, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Dan Bilawsky
May 22, 2019
Read Infinite Itinerant Album Reviews
Infinite Itinerant
By Geno Thackara
May 22, 2019
Read Pulcino Album Reviews
Pulcino
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 22, 2019
Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019