Various Artists

A Walk on the Blues Side [Compendia]

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This two-disc set traces through the roots rock side of the blues, with a handful of gospel-inflected blues pieces thrown in, and the end result feels a bit like listening to an Americana block on an AOR radio station, which is great if you like that sort of thing, and less than great if you don't. Among the highlights are the Fabulous Thunderbirds' furiously rocking "Hard Knock," Robert Lockwood, Jr.'s assured acoustic version of "Bring It on Home," and Bobby Womack singing his classic "It's All Over Now." A latter-day version of the Band doing "Last Train to Memphis" is also worth noting, since it features one of the last vocals by Levon Helm before cancer forced him to step back from singing. You can hear the strain in his voice, and it's heartbreaking to know that this great singer will soon be relegated to just playing the drums (luckily he's pretty good at that, too).

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