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Sample of a truly great record label
on 10 March 2015
At a rough count approximately a third of the tracks contained herein could be called classics in the overlapping fields of popular and roots music. That's according to my tastes of course but I'd be surprised if anyone's count came below ten. Faced with that one's critical capabilities tend to get a bit befuddled. About the only negative comment is that a potential purchaser might have quite a few of these tracks already.
To summarise: within the two CD set are some of the best examples you'll find anywhere of fifties and early sixties electric blues from Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter, splendid vocal harmony (doo woppy stuff to you and me) from the Flamingos, the Monotones and the Moonglows, superb rock'n'roll from Dale Hawkins (the positively feral "Susie Q"), Chuck Berry and the unique Bo Diddley, plus early soul from the quite magnificent Etta James.
At a level slightly below that there's some mighty fine rockabilly from guys who don't get in all the compilations - the hiccupping Billy Barrix and Lou Josie are personal favourites, more blues and blues / rock hybrids like Jimmy McCracklin's "The Walk", Louisiana flavours from Clarence "Frogman" Henry and Clifton Chenier, more doo woppers, nuggets of rock'n'roll history in the shape of Bobby Charles' "See you later alligator" and Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88" (with its claims to be the first rock'n'roll record) plus an isolated but excellent "My foolish heart" from sax man Gene Ammons. This last track is significant in that it was the first record to be released on Chess (on 78 RPM) in July, 1950.
AND, there's G.L. Crockett's marvellous, "Look out Mabel", which seems to straddle the boundaries of rockabilly and Chicago blues.
There are other compilations of Chess material around but I suspect One Day would have the edge on price (that's without any detailed cross checking). About the only criticism I can make of the set, and it's minor, is that there appears to be an element of front loading of the stronger tracks. But that's a quibble. A lot of this is stuff you just shouldn't be without. Has to be five stars.