As MCA reconfigures their Chess catalog, this 20-track single-disc compilation now takes the place of their original 12-track Best of Little Walter collection, a landmark blues album which had remained in print for over three decades. His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection) reprises ten of those seminal tracks (leaving off the echoey "Blue Light" and "You Better Watch Yourself," the latter being available on the two-disc anthology The Essential Little Walter) and brings ten others cherry-picked from the catalog to the mix. If you've never experienced the innovative instrumental genius of Little Walter, classics like "Juke," "Off the Wall," "Mean Old World," "Sad Hours," "Blues with a Feeling," "My Babe," "Boom Out Goes the Light," "Last Night," "Mellow Down Easy" and "Roller Coaster" (written by Bo Diddley, who also guests on guitar) will come as a major revelation. These are the recordings that changed the sound and style of blues harmonica forever, and everyone who came after him was as influenced by him as jazz saxophonists were by Charlie Parker. Everyone who fancies themselves a blues harmonica player should have this one in their collection as a textbook instructional tool, while the rest of us can just bask in the glow of his genius. "Essential first purchase" doesn't even begin to describe it.
AllMusic Review by Cub Koda