Various Artists

Boppin' the Blues [Charly]

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The word "bop" shows up in as many different genres with as many different meanings as the word "boogie." Boppin' the Blues is the name of a rockabilly tune by Carl Perkins, a jazz composition by Ray Brown, and is the title of several albums by artists as diverse as Carl Perkins with NRBQ, Miles Davis, and Nat King Cole. The budget Charly label has sown even more potential confusion by issuing two very different samplers that are both called Boppin' the Blues. Not to be confused with the rockabilly collection of the same name, Charly's 1996 rhythm & blues retrospective covers the Afro-American wing of the Sun Records story with dynamite jams from such ball-busting rockers as Ike Turner, Little Milton, and Doctor Ross, along with Billy "The Kid" Emerson, Little Junior's Blue Flames, Elven Parr & the Groove Boys, and a whole lotta other people you might not yet be hip to. With the possible exception of Earl Hooker's jazzy take on "The Hucklebuck" (a pop hit based on Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time"), any connection between jazz-bop and blues exists here in the same sort of joyously-impossible-to-fully-delineate stylistic undercurrents that characterized urban Afro-American music during the late 1940s and early '50s, when modern working jazz musicians regularly sat in with rhythm & blues shouters. Like any other part of the vernacular, "bop" was a versatile word. Doctor Ross, whose "Boogie Disease" treads the same turf traversed by young John Lee Hooker, sings an ode to his "Bebop Gal" that sounds like a visitation from Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, and Rosco Gordon's "Bop with Me Baby" bears more than passing resemblance to Hank Ballard's "Work with Me Annie." This collection maps the musical territory where bopping means rocking, rolling, cooking and cutting loose.

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