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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bluesinthenorthwest review, 20 May 2009
"Highlights from The History of Rhythm & Blues: 1925-1942"

(Rhythm and Blues Records: RANDB002)

Anyone looking for a great sampler to hear some of the classic early rhythm and blues could do worse than to check out this 25-track release - highlights from a 4-cd set, "The History Of Rhythm And Blues, Volume One, 1925-42 (RANDB001) - with excellent sound quality given the age of some of these recordings, but best of all, a 28-page booklet with comprehensive analysis of each track.

Containing a mix of several styles - country blues, piano boogie-woogie, urban blues and gospel, swing and jive - the release contains some big names of the time such as, Bessie Smith, Leroy Carr and Sonny Boy Williamson, alongside lesser-known people such as Louie Lasky, Doctor Clayton and Rufus & Ben Quillian.

For fans of some of the early blues guitar greats this features Blind Willie Johnson's timeless "It's Nobody's Fault But Mine"; the original "Rollin' And Tumblin' - "Roll And Tumble Blues" by Hambone Willie Newbern; and one from the recognised master of the pre-war blues, Robert Johnson - represented here by "Preachin' Blues".

Jazz and swing from the period is from the masters such as Count Basie - with his 1936 "Boogie Woogie"; Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson, together on "Roll `Em Pete" and Jay McShann's "Confessing The Blues" - all great stuff indeed.

To show the quality of this compilation, in the middle of the running order we are treated to Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Arthur `Big Boy' Crudup in succession - with the chosen tracks being some of their well-known songs, and despite being around 70 years old, all sounding just great!

As an introduction to early blues and more this compilation takes some beating - and to anyone doing research or a historian - I would imagine pretty essential, well done to compiler, Nick Duckett and to all concerned.

GRAHAME RHODES
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the critics have said, 5 Oct. 2008
This exhilarating compilation covers the period almost from when the Blues were first recorded until Billboard magazine inaugurated its first sales chart for black music, the Harlem Hit Parade.It runs from a rough and rhythmic field holler to the smooth tones of Lionel Hampton's vibraphone, and encompasses along the way developments central to modern music: the introduction of slide guitar, the invention of the walking bass, the development of boogie woogie piano, the advent of swing. This album is a distillation of a four-CD set; as such, it's an exceptionally strong collection, each of the 25 tracks a discovery, a joy. The liner notes are worth the price in themselves: Well-written and entertaining, they detail not only the history of each artist, but the context of each song.We hear John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson pioneer the single-note lead on harmonica, Tampa Red introduce the guitar-piano Blues combo, Jimmie Rodgers mix Blues and country in a way later taken up by Ray Charles and others.

Great names appear: Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, Count Basie. A number of these songs remain famous, too: 1929's `Roll And Tumble Blues' has been recorded most recently by Seasick Steve; 1940's `Don't You Lie To Me' was covered by the Stones. But some of the best stuff is more obscure: Arthur "Big Boy" Cruddup's `Mean Ol' Frisco' is a treat, as is `I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water' from The Cats and the Fiddle.The most recent song on the album was recorded more than 65 years ago, but this is no dusty exercise in musicology. This is creative, vibrant music. Even today, it quickens the pulse.

By M.D. Spenser

This compilation is culled from volume one of a 4CD, ninety-seven song, thirty-two page box set of recordings highlighting material from the period 1925 -1942. At the moment there is a companion volume two that brings the history lesson up to 1952 on a further 4CDs, and perhaps it is envisioned that further releases will follow slowly bringing us up to date with this wonderful genre. I am not in a position to comment at all on the quality of the background information in the booklet, or the full track listings, however, based on the sleeve notes of the "Highlights..." CD then each song and artist has plenty to engage entry level buyers. I say that because I see that this is where the appeal of these sets will lie. Real aficionados will likely have, or have access to, most of what is on offer here. There is a wonderful choice, though, and much to savour form the likes of Leroy Carr, Tampa Red, Bessie Smith and Robert Johnson. Covering, as it does, swing, spirituals, ragtime, jazz, gospel, Blues, boogie woogie and jug bands, you can dip into Jimmy Rogers 'Train Whistle Blues', 'Holy Mountain' (Elder Otis Jones) or 'Minnie The Moocher' from Cab Calloway then move on to Lionel Hampton Orchestra playing 'Flying Home'. Having had the taster, I wouldn't mind tackling the main course.

Graeme Scott Blues Matters
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