This set is another one of those releases (and probably artists) that more people should know about. This volume (and it's companion Vol. 2) is well worth hearing for fans of post-war electric blues--with the accent on the electric guitar. This volume has a number of instrumentals that show just how good (even though his ideas were a bit limited) Pee Wee Crayton (real name Connie Curtis Crayton) was as a guitarist. His style is reminiscent of the great T-Bone Walker--both in single note solos and Crayton's bluesy-jazzy chording. This volume rests somewhere between 3-4 "stars".
Crayton is relatively well known among blues fans for his guitar work. His vocals were rarely ever his strong point--usually they came across as laid back and relaxed in something approaching that whole 1940's period. But his instrumentals is where the boys get separated from the men. Crayton was one of the better electric guitarists of the period, but for whatever reason many blues fans aren't all that familiar with his work. Just listen to instrumentals like "Texas Hop", "Bounce Pee Wee", and "Blues After Hours" (a hit for Crayton), and you'll begin to understand why Crayton is held in high regard among those lucky enough to know who he is. But his vocal sides could be equally good. Listen to "Central Avenue Blues", "Louella Brown", "Please Come Back", and "Black Gold"--all good examples of his vocal work at it's best.
Crayton's bands during this period were always small combos, including a piano and a horn or two. This setting allowed Crayton's guitar (especially) and vocals to stand out, no matter what the tempo. He's a good example of that West Coast/Texas blues sound--plenty of blues licks with some jazzier things thrown into the mix. An interesting aside--if you listen closely to some of Chuck Berry's instrumentals, you can hear Crayton's influence--the chords, the approach, and the very sound are reminiscent of Crayton.
Fans of post-war electric blues and/or T-Bone Walker should probably give Crayton a listen. While he was never known as an incendiary player like others from that era, his guitar skills were top notch. Both this volume and Vol.2 are worth adding to your blues library. In fact, Vol. 2 may be even better than this set. Crayton (to my ears) sounds more assured on Vol. 2's selection of tracks--both instrumentally and vocally. But suffice to say that if you haven't heard Pee Wee Crayton--you owe it to yourself to do so. His later work from 1953 can be found on the album "Blues From Dolphin's Of Hollywood", on the Specialty label. Along with nine tracks from Crayton, you'll also hear Percy Mayfield, Memphis Slim, Jimmy Witherspoon, and a few others. While there's nothing really amazing on "Blues From...", it does hold a certain warmth and charm of that era.