Various Artists

Topcat Records 20th Anniversary Extravaganza

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A double-disc set celebrating the two-decade anniversary of Topcat Records, this 40-track compilation shines a spotlight on the various releases the Texas-based blues label have released over the years. This set mixes up old, archival tracks reissued by the label along with newly commissioned recordings, some of the cuts sounding compressed and trashy, others big and bold. This discrepancy in audio quality can create some whiplash, but it does fit the slapdash nature of the whole project; it's hard to tell why each cut was chosen for inclusion as there are no real liner notes to speak of: the booklet does take note of the players on each track, which is nice, but it'd be even nicer to have some sort of context for each of the cuts here. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable enough sampler of modern Texas blues in its many permutations, from simple guitar and voice to full-bodied blues shuffles.

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