Various Artists

Blues Story [Shout! Factory]

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Blues Story opens with the wonderful, lazy horns of Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues" and ends on the edge of rock & roll with Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog." In between are dozens of classic old blues tracks, including Tommy Johnson's bright but desperate signature tune, "Canned Heat Blues," T-Bone Walker's "Call It Stormy Monday" (with its famous line, "The eagle flies on Friday"), Elmore James' "Dust My Broom," Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man" (with the equally famous line, "He's just tall, that's all"), and Louis Jordan's jump blues standard, "Caldonia." One of Skip James' finest performances is also here, "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues," as well as Bukka White's autobiographical and driving "Aberdeen Mississippi Blues." It is extremely difficult to give the fabled story of the blues its fair due in just under 40 tracks, but this collection does a marvelous job, and functions as a varied and well-balanced history of one of America's most important musical styles.

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