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LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE BLUES - MEMPHIS 1927-1958 (3CD SET)

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FANTASTIC VOYAGE (FVTD022)

Lewis Black, Memphis Jug Band, Frank Stokes, Garfield Akers, Joe Callicott, Bukka White, Little Buddy Doyle, Allen Shaw, Kid Bailey, Tom Dickson,  Robert Wilkins, Sleepy John Estes, Walter Horton, Willie Nix, Jr Parker, DA Hunt, Boyd Gilmore, Kenneth Banks, Pat Hare, Sammy Lewis & Willie Johnson, Johnny O'Neal, Charlie Booker, Honeyboy Edwards, Woodrow Adams etc etc

This is another excellent 3CD set from this inspired label, this time covering the evolution of the blues in Memphis.

The first CD presents the music of hometown boys doing their level best - Frank Stokes (Downtown Blues), Jim Jackson (Wild About My Lovin'), and Gus Cannon demonstrating how a banjo can be played with a bottleneck (Poor Boy). Their music is augmented by musicians who either recorded in Memphis or passed through on their way up north. So you get some majestic performances like Garfield Akers mesmerizing Cottonfield Blues, Bukka White's barrelling Panama Limited and Allen Shaw's peach of a blues Moanin' The Blues.

Starting off with  a last look at the vintage stuff  from The Memphis Jug Band, Minnie Wallace and Robert Wilkin's masterwork Old Jim Canaan's, the second CD moves on to Union Street, Memphis just as Sam Phillips was changing the face of the blues world with his recordings of Sleepy John Estes (Rats In My Kitchen), Jackie Brenston (Rocket 88), Jimmy & Walter (Easy), Rufus Thomas (Bearcat), Walter Horton (Little Boy Blue), Howlin' Wolf (Moanin' At Midnight) and Rosco Gordon (Booted). And hidden away amongst that lot are some heart stopping obscurities like Single Man Blues byJames DeBerry, The Last Time  by Woodrow Adams, Seems Like A Million Years by Willie Nix's and  Rats In My Kitchen by Sleepy John Estes making a welcome return to the studio in 1952.

The Third CD carries on the good work with more steamin' material from Sun. With a compiler like Neil Slaven directing traffic you'd expect some great music and of course, it comes thick and fast from a host of great bluesmen. Check out Charlie Booker's stunning bopper Walked All Night with its whompin' rhythm and earth-shaking guitar (Taj Mahal must've loved this), DA Hunt's Greyhound Blues - a stonking slice of down-home blues at it's most bodacious and  William Stewart's County Farm Blues which proves the rural blues was valid and viable to Sun records even in the 1950s . When you've finished with that lot, listen to Boyd Gilmore's intense Believe I'll Settle Down and discover why many blues freaks stick him in the frame with Elmore James. If you want plain crazy, try Kenneth Banks slice of lunacy But High - a million light years away from the anguished Pat Hare on his wonderfully prophetic I'm Gonna Murder My Baby because he actually did do that dreadful deed a few years later.

I could go on and on about this set of fabulous music but space is limited - all I can do now is beg you to give this album a try and discover for yourself the tremendous legacy of the Memphis blues.

 

Review Date: September 2009

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