Various Artists

Ace Blues Masters, Vol. 2: 4th and Beale and Further South

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This second volume of blues recordings from the vaults of the Jackson, Mississippi-based Ace label yields several tracks to make this a compilation well worth revisiting again and again. It kicks off with six songs from a 1954 unissued session on Memphis musician Joe Hill Louis, with Joe Hill trimming his one-man-band approach down to singing and playing guitar while a three-piece combo beefs up the ensemble sound. Also on board are four songs from Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's 1952 session for the label. Two of these tracks ("My Baby Boogies All the Time" and "I Wonder") saw issuance as a single on Ace, while an atmospheric "Mean Old World" later came out on a Japanese album. The real motherlode on this compilation, however, is the nine tracks that comprise Texas guitarist's Frankie Lee Sims' entire output for the label, including a spirited "What Will Lucy Do?," his big hit "Walkin' With Frankie" and the previously unissued "How Long." Closing out the collection on a very high note are the two singles one on Ace, the other on Ric by drummer/vocalist Julius "Mercy Baby" Mullins. His steaming shuffle "Marked Deck" features one of the longest verses in 12-bar blues history, a whopping 28-bar count that leaves the musicians lunging for the second change in two different spots. Obscure, wonderful music that deserves a place on compact disc and in most anyone's blues collection.

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