This is a miscellany of Big Bill Broonzy's fifties recordings. The first CD begins with "Big Bill's Blues", ten recordings made in February 1956 in Philips studios in Holland, which the original sleeve note represents as a private party rather than a recording session, presumably to deflect the charge of commercialism. That is followed by "Big Bill Broonzy Sings The Blues", nine recordings made a week earlier in Paris with Kansas Fields on drums, and issued in full on a French 10" LP, and minus "Diggin' My Potatoes" on two UK EPs.
The second CD starts off with "Folk Blues", eight numbers recorded in Chicago in December 1951 with Big Crawford on bass, and the original sleeve note is at pains to establish Big Bill's credentials as an Arkansas farmer who played and sang as a kind of sideline, rather than in reality a Chicago-based musician and singer. That's followed by "The Blues", twelve numbers recorded in Chicago a month earlier, mainly with bass accompaniment, but for the last four numbers which feature a quartet accompaniment. In addition, a further eight tracks from early 1949 are included, two at the end of the first CD, the remainder at the end of the second CD.
Big Bill is immediately identifiable, first for his finger-picking guitar style, and secondly for his high-pitched delivery. He began recording in 1926, and in the early fifties he became an important figure within the emergent folk music revival. These recordings reprise some of his earlier successes, such as "Key to the Highway" which he had recorded with Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, "Get Back" and "Keep Your Hands Off Her", and I particularly like the instrumental "Big Bill's Guitar Blues". These are late recordings (he died in August 1958) which should be of interest to all blues enthusiasts.