Rhino designed their multi-disc Blues Masters series as a simple, one-stop introduction to the history of the blues for any curious listener. Which means, of course, that this single-disc sampler is the introduction to the introduction -- a little reductive, to be sure, but useful nonetheless. These 15 tracks should by no means be seen as the final word on a genre as complex as the blues, but it certainly gives a novice a good idea how rich the tradition is, since it contains everything from the Texas Prison Camp's traditional reading of the standard "Go Down Old Hannah" to Stevie Ray Vaughan's supercharged, Reagan-era blues "Pride and Joy." In between those two extremes lie Little Walter, Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Albert Collins, Mississippi John Hurt, Jimmy Reed, Albert King, Count Basie, Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, Billie Holiday and Paul Butterfield -- yes, some major names may be missing, but all of the artists here are major names themselves, and they help make this affordable sampler worthwhile for all curious novices.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine