This second volume of a two-volume entry in MCA's Chess 50th Anniversary reissue series chronicles the second decade of blues classics produced by the landmark company. Although Chess' big four (Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, and Sonny Boy Williamson) are all finely represented, influential sides by Elmore James ("Madison Blues"), Otis Rush ("So Many Roads, So Many Trains"), and John Lee Hooker (his monochord boogie treatment of Amos Milburn's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer") pepper the mix as well. As Chess moved into the soul market, so it was that latter-day blues sides by Little Milton, Koko Taylor, and Etta James took on a more pronounced R&B edge, and it is these sides that close this compilation in a near perfect bookend fashion. Extra special highlight: Etta James' nitro reading of Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me to Do," recorded live in 1964.
AllMusic Review by Cub Koda