T-Bone Walker

Blues Masters: The Very Best of T-Bone Walker

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A title as lofty as The Very Best of T-Bone Walker begs the question, "Does this CD really contain the seminal Texas bluesman's very best work?" And in fact, this 2000 release (which spans 1945-1957), does contain some of Walker's finest, most essential recordings of the '40s and '50s. It isn't the only collection focusing on Walker's recordings of that period -- in 1995, for example, Capitol released the comprehensive three-CD set The Complete Capitol/Black & White Recordings. But if you need a more concise, single-disc collection of Walker's '40s and '50s classics, Blues Masters: The Very Best of T-Bone Walker would be an excellent choice. All of the material is superb -- Walker's original 1947 version of "Call It Stormy Monday" (his most famous song) is included, and anyone with even a casual interest in the singer/guitarist's output also needs to hear gems like "The Hustle Is On" (1950), "Tell Me What's The Reason" (1953), "Bobby Sox Blues" (a #3 R&B hit in 1946), and "West Side Baby" (which was recorded in 1947 and made it to #8 on R&B singles charts in 1948). This is primarily a blues collection, but it's a blues collection with a lot of jazz influence. Walker's love of jazz is evident on much of the material, whether he's providing uptempo jump blues and Texas shuffles or becoming an outright torch singer on "Evenin'" and "I'm Still in Love With You" (both from 1945). As rewarding as this CD is, it isn't the last word on Walker's recording career -- for the serious blues collector, one Walker album could never be enough. But if you don't own any Walker discs and are exploring his work for the first time, this collection is the most logical place to start.

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