Various Artists

Got a Feeling Called the Blues

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From the master compilers at Hear Music comes Got a Feeling Called the Blues, an outstanding collection of blues works from the various masters of the form. The bulk of the performances hail from between the 1930s and the 1960s, with an exception or two as necessary to catch a major performer. Slim Harpo opens up the album with a bit of jumping Delta blues on harmonica and vocals, followed by the inimitable Muddy Waters and his electric Chicago blues. The deep voice of Odetta covers an old Leadbelly tune, Son House provides some unaccompanied song, and Buddy Guy adds in a sweet bit of '60s Chicago guitar work. Guy's old pal Junior Wells tosses in an outstanding bluesharp number with "Snatch It Back and Hold It" and Big Bill Broonzy puts in a nice showing on guitar and vocals to follow. Leadbelly contributes one of his signature tunes in "John Hardy," evoking an emotional reaction with his abilities to express, and Skip James does the same trick, but with a full band and an unearthly falsetto on "Devil Got My Woman." Precious Bryant covers a Blind Willie McTell tune and Mississippi John Hurt adds in a piece from late in his career. Howlin' Wolf finally makes his appearance midway through the album with what would become a major hit for Cream, John Lee Hooker continues the deep singer-guitarist line, and T-Bone Walker updates the guitar work a bit with his electric Texas form. Jimmy Reed adds some Chicago boogie to the mix, and Lightnin' Hopkins brings the tone around 180 degrees with his stripped-down Texas style. The album finishes up with numbers from the earliest recorded blues star, Bessie Smith, and Texan pianist Floyd Dixon, who paved the way for the coming rock & roll craze in the mid-'50s on the other end of the pure blues era. From end to end, though there is a notable omission (Robert Johnson), it's an outstanding album, picking only the cream of the crop of artists and some of the best examples of their sound at that. For an introduction to the blues or as a basic compilation of some of the best performers, the album does equally well, giving the listener almost everything he/she could hope for from the era of coverage. These are the artists who defined the blues as they are now known.

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