Various Artists

Best of the Blues [2005 Madacy]

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This two-disc set from Madacy hardly qualifies as the best of the blues, since many of the tracks are live cuts that don't have the best sound, but there are some solid performances here, including Pee Wee Crayton's loping "Blues in the Ghetto," Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic "I Put a Spell on You," Lightnin' Hopkins' "Mojo Hand," and a muffled but still arresting version of "Bourgeois Blues" from Leadbelly. One could question whether Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues," featured here in a live concert version, is actually a blues song, at least by form, although if content is the deciding qualifier, then half the songs ever recorded could belong here. Having the blues and singing about the blues doesn't necessarily mean you're playing the blues. But who's counting?

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