HEAD RAG HOP - PIANO BLUES 1925-1960 (4CD)
Hersal Thomas, Meade Lux Lewis, Cow Cow Davenport, Will Ezell, Montana Taylor, Lil Johnson, Speckled Red, Charles Avery, Henry Brown, Little Brother Montgomery, ‘Jabo' Williams, Stump Johnson, Barrelhouse Buck, Black Boy Shine, Jack Dupree, Sunnyland Slim, Piano Red, Otis Spann and more...
Another fabulous JSP box set, this time consisting of 101 sterling selections of some of the best piano blues performances ever put on record. Other than to note that piano-playing bluesmen have not been given the same attention and respect as guitar-playing bluesman, this presentation is light on any over-arching concept and heavy on simply giving us the goods.
These splendid selections take us (roughly chronologically) across a broad journey of approaching forty years, from the earliest days of blues on record in the early 1920s right up to the beginnings of the 1960s. In so doing we get a wide range of blues styles and an excellent mix of artists, from those who recorded just the one side (like Blind Leroy Garnett's ebullient solo piano instrumental, Louisiana Glide) to those whose popularity was enduring (such as Leroy Carr, represented here by the terrific but none-too cheery, Suicide Blues).
Big name piano bluesmen with their signature tunes (Little Brother Montgomery's Vicksburg Blues), great boogie-woogie masters (Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis), eccentrically patterned country blues (Skip James, If You Haven't Any Hay...), Chicago blues giants (Sunnyland Slim, Otis Spann), it is all here and plenty more.
Indeed Neil Slaven admits at the end of his notes that accompany this set that four CDs is simply nowhere near enough to fully encompass the breadth and depth of blues piano. We can only hope that this is a plea for JSP to follow up to this terrific set with another.
Review Date: Febraury 2016