Various Artists

Meaning in the Blues

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When Paul Oliver's Blues Fell This Morning: Meaning in the Blues was published, it was one of the first books to focus on the country blues from the 78-rpm era (which stretched from the 1920s through the very early '50s) as a kind of black American folk music, a music that tackled black culture in all of its concerns, from love, sex, joy, and sadness to the broader sweep of displacement, war, and death, in an often coded, passionate, and poetic black idiom. It remains required reading for anyone interested in the genre, and this wonderful four-disc, 103-track anthology from JSP Records honors and serves as an audio companion to Oliver's groundbreaking book, celebrating the 50th anniversary year of its publication. Assembled by Max Haymes, who also wrote the text for the lovely 80-page booklet that accompanies the box set, Meaning in the Blues collects blues 78s that illustrate key points in Oliver's book, but it also stands alone as a fascinating and engaging survey of early black country blues in all of its forms and variants.

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