Aaron "T-Bone" Walker could be called one of the forefathers of rock-and-roll, and was a pioneer bluesman. He has had his guitar licks and stage moves stolen by many. Chuck Berry (the biggest offender---listen to "Strollin' With Bones"---Chuck lifted the middle guitar solo for his own "Johnny B. Goode" and never gave him credit). Jimi Hendrix. Jeff Beck. Jimmy Page. Eric Clapton. B.B. King. The list is endless. Unfortunately, T-Bone is not nearly the legend as the afore guitar heroes are. That is, he is not a household word. What a shame. He should be.
The first two songs sound completely different from the rest, and were recorded in 1929. These have an extremely traditional blues sound, with just a guitar and piano. Because of circumstances during the Depression, he wasn't able to record again until 1940. But during this time his voice mellowed and he ceased to sound like Robert Johnson (not that there's anything wrong with that, but T-Bone didn't sound like T-Bone on the first two songs). The songs on the first disc are what I consider the best. Many were written or co-written by Walker. This is probably why I like them over the songs on the other three CD's, because he didn't have much of a hand in writing most of the other songs. The songs on the second CD are in my opinion the weakest. Most of them were written by John "Shifty" Henry and are just okay, but one track does not particuarly stand out from another for the majority of them, complete with the same drum beat ("ca-clunk!") ending most of them. After awhile I begin to get tired of hearing songs that sound similar to "Vacation Blues", and that same old drum beat ending. And I don't want to sound like some feminist, but on a superficial level, did Mr. Henry need to find some decent women, or what? As a woman myself, it got a tad bit annoying to hear a few songs dissing ALL women (not just a few, but the whole female race) as no good, every woman in the world is untrustworthy and will take you for your money and sue you for alimony. Men are hardly saints themselves. Okay, rant over. These songs are nowhere near awful, but somewhat of a letdown after the first CD. But luckily, the third CD is quite good. The songs are more varied musically (thank God) and are far more memorable than the ones on the second CD. I especially love "Plain Old Down Home Blues" and that ending where T-Bone and an unidentified Hispanic man have a discussion, one-sided because the man is speaking Spanish and T-Bone just keeps replying "yeah", obviously not understanding a word. It still cracks me up. The fourth and final CD sounds a bit more like the type of blues we all know and love, a bit more modern. I just wish the second CD had less pedestrian and a little more imagination. If I had to rate each CD by themselves, it would be:
CD1 (titled T-Bone Blues): 5 stars (If I could give it ten I would!)
CD2 (titled T-Bone Jumps Again): 3 stars
CD3 (titled T-Bone Shuffle): 5 stars
CD4 (titled Evil-Hearted Woman): 4 1/2 stars
This is a great remastered set for traditional blues fans, especially guitar enthusiasts. It's cheap and includes a 43-page booklet. If you want to know where early rock-and-roll came from, it's here.
It's just too bad that the song samples have been eliminated on Amazon as I write this (they were there when I bought this). What's with THAT, Amazon?!?!?!?