"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.