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Vanguard (VANBOX14)

Skip James, Big Bill Broonzy, Rev. Robert Wilkins, JB Hutto, Rev. Gary Davis, Otis Rush, Hedy West, Watson Family, Liam Clancy, Jesse Fuller, Bob Dylan, Sandy Bull, Buddy Guy, Country Joe & The Fish, Joan Baez, Jerry Jeff Walker, John Fahey, Dillards, Tom Paxton, Jim Kweskin, Bill Monroe, Swan Silvertones, Pete Seeger and many more

A superb compilation from the archives of one of the most influential record labels of the 1960s and early ‘70s, containing 83 tracks plus a detailed 58 page booklet that includes an introduction from legendary writer- producer Sam Charters, and an excellent essay and detailed artist and track notes by John Crosby.

While some of the music has never been on CD before (the live Dylan performance of North Country Blues being a notable example), most of the material has been taken from previously released studio albums of artists signed to the label or from live performances (such as from the legendary Newport Festivals). And it is a massively eclectic and enjoyably varied collection, with lots of folk, country blues, Chicago blues, old timey, gospel, cajun, psychedelic rock and plenty more.

The first CD is where I've mostly been in my comfort zone as this is, by and large, where most of the blues artists have been programmed. It's pretty much all familiar material but great nonetheless to hear again - timeless music that still presses all the right buttons for me.

Less familiar to these ears has been the contents of the other 3 CDs and I have spent many an enjoyable hour recently trawling through these vaguely remembered artists and songs. I fully expected a good deal of the folk and psychedelic rock to have dated quite badly but, rather surprisingly and pleasingly, it still sounds good to me. So good, in fact, that I am off to listen to more now.


Review Date: June 2012

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