This release brings together some of the earliest and rarest recordings of English style blues music. Alexis Korner (guitar/vocals) and Cyril Davies (harp) influenced an entire generation of up and coming musicians by exposing them to the blues. This nearly 80 minutes digitally remastered CD belongs in every British blues fan's library. I reviewed another Korner collection (see below) and thought I should let people know about this equally great collection of music. This edition is actually somewhere between 3 1/2 and 4 "stars" for both the performances and the historical value of these recordings.
Collected here are some of the rarest of Korner's recordings. Included is (tracks 1-9) the 1957 LP "Blues From The Roundhouse" (plus an outtake), originally released in a vinyl production run of just 99 copies. The 1957 EP (tracks 10-13) "Blues From The Roundhouse Vol. 1" is here, as is the 1958 "Blues From The Roundhouse Vol. 2" (tracks 14-17), also relatively rare vinyl releases. Tracks 18-29 (from 1954-1956) are recordings from the LP "Back To The Delta" by Ken Colyer's Skiffle Group, a home recording (track 21), another Colyer EP (tracks 22-25), a Decca single (tracks 26-27), and an unissued Decca 45 rpm acetate (tracks 28-29). Tracks 18-29 are songs Korner and Davies played on (individually) as sidemen. A nice additional surprise is Beryl Bryden's strong vocals on her four tracks. This set collects several styles of music--blues, folk, skiffle, and combinations of these styles.
In a nutshell, this is a trip back in time when skiffle music was king, and Korner and Davies stepped away from that style and began to play the blues. Included are songs by Ledbetter, Estes, Merriweather, and others. These are the songs and the performances that many (most) of the (then) up and coming British musicians heard and used as a starting point in learning what blues music was all about. As I mentioned in another Korner review, in many of the interviews of well known English blues (and sometimes jazz) musicians, Korner's (and Davies) name is usually mentioned as a primary influence.
This set, along with "Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated--R&B: From The Roundhouse To The Ealing Club To The Marquee" (Jasmine label), will give fans a good picture (with only a few over-lapping tunes between the two) of the music that essentially started the British blues boom which began in the late 50's/1960's and beyond. Deep fans of British blues need to hear this set (or both) to better understand how the blues supplanted skiffle music, and took root in England. From here it was a short jump to Waters, Wolf, etc. when they played in Europe in roughly the same period. And British blues as we know it took off.