on 9 March 2011
Musically, this is a very good selection of Tampa Red's music. It falls down in other areas, which is why it only gets 3 stars. Tampa himself deserves more.
He was a prominent figure in the blues in Chicago for 30 years or more. At the start of that period he teamed up with Georgia Tom playing good natured and fairly dirty minded hokum blues, then he had a spell reinventing himself as a sort of second Leroy Carr (including playing some rather fine piano), then, as the thirties wore on, he became a prominent organiser on the scene, playing with virtually everybody, prominent or otherwise, and then in the forties he amplified his guitar and continued as a central figure on the scene. He was a fine bottle neck guitarist, playing clean and melodic lines. His singing matched perfectly, a fairly light voice being easy to follow. He almost always swung. There was no tragedy in his music, but within the limits within which he worked, enormous variety.
All that musical quality is recaptured on this disc, which seems to cover most aspects of his music from the late twenties until the early forties. There are instrumentals and vocals, with piano and/or guitar accompaniment, slightly larger groups, amplified and acoustic numbers, even down to a couple of Louis Jordan type tunes towards the end.
What there is not is any personnels, so you have no idea who is playing on what. People he played with included names such as Georgia Tom, Black Bob, Big Maceo and Big Bill Broonzy plus, I suppose, hundreds of lesser names. These men deserve the courtesy of being recognised for their music, and I, for one, like to know to whom I am listening.
Of course, if you don't care, this is a fine example of the work of a very good bluesman.