Various Artists

Detroit Blues: Early 1950's

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These 15 tracks are tough, raw-edged, primitive urban blues from the Motor City. Kicking off with four sides from Baby Boy Warren ("Sanafee," "Baby Boy Blues," "Mattie Mae" and the instrumental "Chicken"), three of them feature the harmonica talents of Sonny Boy Williamson, Washboard Willie, Boogie Woogie Red on piano and former Robert Johnson running buddy Calvin Frazier on lead guitar, making this combo the Detroit equivalent of the original Muddy Waters band. Doctor Ross' Fortune recording of "Thirty Two Twenty" along with Bobo Jenkins' "Baby Don't You Want To Go" and "10 Below Zero" gives a glimpse of that label's bare-bones production techniques, while Eddie Kirkland's "No Shoes," Big Maceo's "Big City Blues" and L.C. Green's "Remember Way Back" mirror the gritty sound that emerged from Detroit's ghettos in the early 1950s. John Lee Hooker is also aboard with the original "House Rent Boogie," providing a semi-comedic foil for the Detroit Count's hilarious two-part "Hastings Street Opera," One String Sam's eerie "I Need $100," and the set closer "Alabama Bus" by Brother Will Hairston, featuring Washboard Willie well to the fore. Much cruder than the more polished sound of Chicago blues, this compilation highlights some of the very best that emerged from this early, embryonic period.

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