Elmore James

History of Elmore James, Vol. 2

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It's a sorry state of things when the convoluted history of an artists' copyrights and discography wind up taking up more space in a review than a discussion of the music. Perhaps this is inevitable in the case of Elmore James, whose brand of urban slide blues was as forceful, direct, and unpretentiously rocking as his contractual situation was messy. The Trip label was an outfit which tried to cash in on the jazz and blues repackaging orgy of the '70s. There was certainly a good share of fine albums released on this label, many of which now reside in used record piles. The label believed in tacky, useless packaging with a consistency that approaches a zealot's religious fervor. This one, for example, is an ugly pink single sleeve into which two discs are crammed with absolutely no liner notes, save for the song titles. All four sides could have been fit onto two sides, but, remember, this was the era of the two-fer, and double hamburgers would have been served in gatefold album covers if someone could have figured out a way to do it. The existence of the two records in this case adds to the confusion, as Trip seems to have never actually released a The History of Elmore James, Vol. 1 -- the label only printed the first volume and stuck it into the Vol. 2 so it could sell two LPs. This is totally great music that deserves a much better presentation.

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