Various Artists

Blues Masters, Vol. 6: Blues Originals

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It's unfortunate, but it's true: the original versions of many blues classics aren't nearly as well-known as their hit covers by (usually white) rock groups. That's not to say that some of these covers aren't great as well, but it's both educational and enjoyable to hear them from the source's mouth. Blues Originals contains 18 original versions of classics that went on to reach a wide audience via covers by the Stones, the Yardbirds, Elvis, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, and others. The Chess stable of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Little Walter, and Sonny Boy Williamson is represented here, of course, along with standards by Elmore James, Otis Rush, Robert Johnson, Slim Harpo, and Jimmy Reed. Mixed in with great and fairly available performances like Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man" and Howlin' Wolf's "Back Door Man" are some quite obscure and collectable delights. Arthur Crudup's original version of "That's All Right," covered by Elvis Presley for his first single, has been surprisingly hard to find over the years; ditto for Muddy Waters' "You Need Love," which formed the blueprint for Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." Even most Yardbirds fanatics are unaware that the prototype for "Lost Woman" was taken from (and retitled after) an obscure Snooky Pryor single, "Someone to Love Me." And even many Chicago blues fanatics will be surprised to find the original version of "Got My Mojo Working," which was not recorded by Muddy Waters, but little-known jump blues singer Ann Cole. A fine collection, mixing together famous standards and obscure gems with thorough liner notes.

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