Various Artists

Atlas Blues Explosion

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Atlas Records was founded in 1951 by trumpeter Thomas Robinson, who located his headquarters in Harlem just down the street from the Apollo Theatre. Early on Atlas concentrated on releasing explosive jump blues sides before switching predominantly to vocal groups by the end of the decade. Robinson started a second record imprint, Angle Tone Records, in 1958, which again centered mostly on doo wop material, but the occasional jump blues track slipped through now and again. This blistering set brings together some of the great lost blues sides from the two labels, and for those only familiar with the vocal group material from Atlas and Angle Tone, it is quite a revelation. This is fire-breathing stuff, full of raw, loose sax runs and some scorching guitar, and the needle must have been buried in the red for all of these sessions. Among the standout tracks are the opener, "I Done Woke Up," featuring the flame-throwing slide guitar of Louisiana Red, the stomping "You Know You Don't Want Me" by guitarist Mojo Watson, James Wayne's muscular "This Little Letter," and baritone saxophonist Emmet Davis' rattling, ramshackle "Woke Up This Morning." This is quite the blues explosion indeed, with over an hour of energetic gutbucket dance blues, all of it featuring a delightfully ragged immediacy.

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