This seventh volume -- of 11 in the Bear Family Blowing the Fuse series -- is another case of the woollier and wilder side of R&B as it moved into the 1950s. The 28 tracks from 1951 showcased here offer sure signs of the music's big bang that would erupt as rock & roll in just a few short years. While many of the artists here have appeared on the other volumes in the series, it nonetheless remains stellar in both selection and sound. Sure, Amos Milburn's "Bad, Bad Whiskey," and Joe Liggins' "Little Joe's Boogie" have appeared on dozens of compilations, but hardly juxtaposed against Margie Day's read of "Little Red Rooster," Muddy Waters' "Long Distance Call," the Larks' "Eyesight to the Blind," or Tiny Bradshaw's "Walkin' the Chalk Line." What's more, other well-known R&B pharaohs like Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, the Treniers, Johnny Otis and Peppermint Harris (with Maxwell Davis on "I Got Loaded") are here as well. The number of groups coming out of the woodwork on this set, such as the Four Buddies, the Larks, the Clovers and the Dominoes showcase a shift in the way these comps were arranged and produced -- by Dave "Daddy Cool" Booth. One of the treasures here is Joe Turner with Van "Piano Man" Walls on the inimitable "Chains of Love," which is underscored later by Earl Bostic's swaggering "Flamingo." The set closes with the Howlin' Wolf burner "How Many More Years." Each of these 28 cuts have their own set of liner notes by Colin Escott, and the digipack itself is just to die for.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek