Various Artists

ABC of the Blues: The Ultimate Collection from the Delta to the Big Cities

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This 52-disc (no, that is not a typo) comp, ABC of the Blues: The Ultimate Collection from the Delta to the Big Cities, may just indeed live up to its name. There are 98 artists represented , performing 1,040 tracks. The music begins at the beginning (though the set is not sequenced chronologically) with Charlie Patton, Son House, and Robert Johnson, and moves all the way through the vintage Chicago years of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, with stops along the way in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, New York, and all points in between. Certainly, some of these artists are considered more rhythm & blues than purely blues artists: the inclusion of music by Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris, Bo Diddley, and others makes that clear. That said, along with all the well-known acts are some startling -- and wonderfully considered -- selections by Magic Sam, Barbeque Bob, Professor Longhair, Jimmy Witherspoon, and many others. This is an exhaustive set that most aficionados will enjoy, even if they find choices to quibble with. Add to this its super budget price tag: it lists for $99.98 and sells for as little as $75.00 in various places on the internet. This is a steal, as well as a blues freak's dream come true.

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