Tampa Red

Great Piano/Guitar Duo 1941-1946

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Guitarist Hudson Whittaker, popularly known as Tampa Red, attracted a lot of attention during the 1920s with his Hokum Jug Band, and then became a major Bluebird recording artist during the '30s and '40s. Some of his most visceral and exciting records were made with blues and boogie-woogie pianist Maceo Merriweather, who enjoyed brief fame during the '40s as Big Maceo. Their combined efforts originally appeared under each of their names and have been reissued for years under one or the other, until two Tampa Red/Big Maceo compilations appeared almost simultaneously on the Indigo and EPM Musique labels near the end of the '90s. Interestingly, the two editions cover exactly the same time period (June 24, 1941 through February 19, 1946), with only four titles in common. This means that both collections could coexist in the same library with hardly any redundancy. If choosing between the two, note that the Indigo disc contains 24 titles while EPM's tally is 22. Tune selection is good on both, with EPM coming out slightly on top for including the lively "Texas Stomp," which might well be the best record these two men ever made together. Why EPM didn't add in its equally rocking flipside, the "Detroit Jump," is a real puzzle. Any Tampa Red/Big Maceo collection lacking either or both of those titles could be said to be slightly flawed. Aside from these points, both discs are packed with great music and warmly recommended for anyone craving a healthy slug of Chicago blues from the early to mid-'40s.

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