Trying to chart the recording career of bluesman R.L. Burnside, like so many others, is damn frustrating. While finding a champion in Mississippi indie Fat Possum and earning considerable success throughout the 1990s, Burnside has recorded for a number of other labels. But trying to tell the difference between an original recording and a crassly opportunistic repackaging to cash in on the Fat Possum success is difficult. With No Monkeys on This Train, Hightone gathers a broad sampling of earlier Burnside tracks from throughout the 1980s and early '90s. The funky "Jumper Hangin' on the Line" and yet another version of "Goin' Down South," something of a modern blues standard by now, are standbys that have seen release in other forms before. Three tracks are listed as previously unissued (the very Muddy Waters-sounding "Fireman Ring the Bell" among them), but most of what is here comes from such diverse sources that it's hard to get a definitive grasp of Burnside's genius. Better to pick up one of the more consistent Fat Possum discs than No Monkeys for a complete picture. For completists only. First in a series of reissues from Hightone dubbed Heritage of the Blues.
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AllMusic Review by John Duffy