Various Artists

R&B Hits of 1951

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The R&B Hits of 1951 is a very generous 48-song collection covering most of the relevant bases that one would expect, starting with Wynonie Harris's "Bloodshot Eyes" and ending with Elmore James' "Dust My Broom," and moving through the harmony groups such as the Clovers ("Fool Fool Fool"), encompassing familiar fare like Muddy Waters' "Louisiana Blues," Howlin' Wolf's "How Many More Years," and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Do It if You Wanna." Apart from those and other big names (Ray Charles, Roy Brown, B.B. King, Ruth Brown, Fats Domino, Amos Milburn, John Lee Hooker, Jackie Brenston, etc.), there are also slightly lesser known figures such as Little Esther ("Lookin' for a Man") and Pee Wee Craydon ("When It Rains It Pours"), all worthwhile hearing. The treat here, apart from the range of sounds, is the quality of the remasterings -- Sanctuary Records has obtained excellent sources on everything here, so that even familiar fare such as "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston sounds fresh and new, and one can practically hear the action on the piano and the lead guitar; and the voice and sax on Percy Mayfield's "Lost Love," and the piano on Lloyd Glenn's "Chicka Boo," are so close that they seem like live performances; similarly, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "I'm Gonna Dig Myself a Hole" shows a beautifully close sound on the guitar on a piece that bears more than a passing resemblance to "That's All Right." The annotation isn't all that it should be, but the listening is so seductive and pleasing that the other flaws can be overlooked.

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