Everything that Joe Hill Louis recorded for Modern and Meteor in the early '50s is on this 28-track compilation. That includes singles, scattered cuts that would first show up on numerous anthologies on different labels years after they were recorded, and a previously unissued alternate take of "At the Woodchopper's Ball (Jack Pot)." Virtually all of Louis' Sam Phillips-produced sides are here, and there's even an extensive interview with Phillips in the liner notes. Most of the Phillips material is one-man blues, stuff that in its way reflects the transition from country blues to electric blues and rock & roll. Perhaps it's heretical to say so, but some of this might have been better served by a full band. Louis was a sturdy, engagingly good-natured singer and decent electric guitarist and harmonica player, capable of dishing out some good instrumental boogies once in a while as well. But the rhythm, supplied by hi-hat and bass drum, is perfunctory in both its texture and power. In fact, one of the Phillips-overseen songs (Sonny Boy Williamson's "Eyesight to the Blind") does add piano and drums, and some of the 1953 Meteor tracks got bass and drum overdubs. At any rate, it's decent early electric Memphis blues and the one-man multi-instrumentalist approach does set it off from the pack a bit, although the songs are more limited in musical range and adventurousness than those of the best Memphis bluesmen who followed in the next few years.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger