Friday, April 22, 2016

Nothin' But the Blues compilation

There are countless blues compilations these days and I will occasionally pick something up
randomly if it seems to give a good band for its buck - like this 3-CD set that I grabbed for $9.99. Apparently, this title has been used many times, but this one comes in a cool, unusually shaped tin - although only a song listing included. There is lots of obvious stuff here that I already own, but I dig having a selection that someone else has chosen and there are some oddities here.

The giants make their appearances here - Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Leadbelly, etc. - as well as some unexpected surprises. Memphis Slim is always great for piano-blues, the legendary Billie Holiday doesn't often show up on these things, but is nice along side the rest, Louis Armstrong is also unanticipated but cool, and then there's more predictable - though none-the-less great - Jack Dupree, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy Rushing and Big Joe Williams. Sonny Terry's harp is a fine inclusion, Jabo Williams is a bit jazzier, Smokey Hogg gives us bluesy piano, Lowell Fulson always has a cool groove, and we get deep blues with Roosevelt Sykes, Bessie Smith and Big Bill Broonzy.

On CD 2 we get a particularly bluesy Ray Charles, more of the fantastic Big Bill Broonzy and others previously mentioned (the booklet says that Muddy Waters is performing the piano'n'horns "Disatisfied", though it sure don't sound like him), King Oliver gives a New Orleans-styled blues and Memphis Slim performs "Good Time Roll Creole", John Lee is particularly haunting in "My First Wife Left Me", and Sonny Terry's "Ham and Eggs" is almost a field hollar. Charles Brown has a nice, groovin' piano'n'guitar blues, Linda Hayes in unknown to me but sings in a cool, early r'n'b style, Jimmy Rushing is also a smooth r'n'b crooner, Cow Cow Davenport performs ragtime piano boogie, Arbee Stidham's piece is a mix of gospel, roller rink organ and blues, Brownie McGhee does his own interpretation of "How Longs Blues", Ike Turner blends together an incredible number of famous songs in the aptly-titled "All the Blues All The Time" and CD 2 finishes with Leadbelly's full "Black Betty" (made famous in the 70's by Ram Jam).

CD 3 is a star-studded and stellar intro with Muddy, the Wolf (an alternative - London Sessions? - take on "Commit a Crime"), Billie Holiday (sultry'n'sexy), Jack Dupree, Elmore James (master of the slide), Ma Rainey (amazing old school blues), Sarah Vaughn (smooth jazz/blues), Hooker and more! Jimmy Witherspoon returns, Della Reese gives another polished blues, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae and Bessie Smith gets jazzy, we get more grit with big Joe Williams and Lightnin' Hopkins, Broonzy reprises a song for some reason, Ester Phillips is a raw blues belter and the whole shee-bang closes with a cool blues from Irma Thomas.

Overall, a really fun and diverse comp, with everything from raw, solo performances to smooth jazz and just about everything in between!