Magic Sam waxed some fantastic sides in his tragically short career, and they've been anthologized many different ways. An Introduction to Magic Sam is Fuel 2000's (newest) version, and collects tracks from his early years recording for the Cobra and Chief labels with an extra mid-'60s Crash single thrown in for good measure. It's a solid collection of great music for sure, and has an attractive budget price. The thing is, every single tune on it is included in Fuel 2000's The Essential Magic Sam from 2001, which contains an additional nine tracks (the "Unreleased Rarities" sticker on this release refers to the fact that Cobra never issued them, but they have been previously available). In fact, the track listing is identical for the first ten tracks. Granted, some of the additional tracks on The Essential Magic Sam are alternate takes, but it's difficult to justify paring down an excellent compilation from 26 to 19 tracks just to add another title to the catalog. There's certainly nothing wrong with An Introduction to Magic Sam; it's a fine compilation, but it's not like his catalog is so overwhelming that there was a need for it. On the other hand, not everyone wants to hear multiple takes of the same tune, so this all-killer, no-filler comp might fit the bill for such a listener or for a party situation.
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AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard