I don't own this one - I decided against purchasing due to duplication - but have plenty of the tracks and thought it could still be helpful to contribute a review, so here goes. The album goes from the very first tracks recorded by Lightnin' and his small backing band in Crowley, Louisiana and sent to Excello in Nashville in May, 1954 up recordings sent in June 1958. During the earlier part of this time frame he used a variety of harmonica players - I've heard of Slim Harpo being one of these but not sure of the truth of this - certainly sometime in the `57 to `58 timeframe, Lazy Lester became Lightnin's go-to man for mouth harp. The harmonica on many of the earlier tracks sounds thinner than on the ones where Lester was present (though Lightnin's famous phrase "blow your harmonica son" dates from the earliest days").
There are many examples of the standard Lightnin' slow blues contained in this set. Whilst he had this format in place from the very start, both the better musical balance and the more inventive lyrics make those towards the end - "Hoo Doo Blues", "Bed Bug Blues" and "Tom Cat Blues" classics of their kind. There are also several examples of his up tempo work - "It's mighty crazy" is possibly his most well known rocker.
Every now and then we do hear echoes of other people in Lightnin's numbers. "Just made twenty one" has elements of both Muddy's "I'm a Man" and Hooker's famous "Boogie Chillen". "Goin' Home" has similarities to the early Howlin' Wolf. However from what I've heard, and while it's not all of this album I do know most of the rest, I certainly would not put the man down as being largely a Chess blues copyist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where he does use other artists' material, and it's not that frequently, he does assimilate such influences fully into his own style so it all come out Lightnin' Slim. And there was only one Lightnin' Slim.
Based on what I know and Jay Miller's high production values I'm going for four stars like the others.