Duster Bennett

I Choose to Sing the Blues: Rare & Unreleased Recordings, Vol. 1 1968-1971

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Igniting what would develop into one of the most fascinating archive trawls that the British blues scene has ever undergone, I Choose to Sing the Blues is the first of three volumes highlighting the vast wealth of rare and unreleased material cut by Duster Bennett between 1965 and his death in 1976. With just one exception, this album's closing one-man jug band, "Glendora," the earliest material of all, from 1965-1967, is contained on the third of the discs, Shady Little Baby; volume one, meanwhile, covers the years 1968-1971, during which Bennett's public profile was at, perhaps, its highest. Several tracks here are familiar from Bennett's years with the Blue Horizon label -- "I'm Gonna Wind Up Ending Up" and his spine-tingling interpretation of the hymn "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me" included. There's also a churning medley of "I Choose to Sing the Blues" and "Just Like I Treat You," recorded with longtime colleague Top Topham, while the live "Bright Lights, Big City" is nothing short of a riotous celebration. Perhaps the most interesting material, however, is found among the recordings dating from the early '70s, with Bennett now working without a record contract but maintaining his place among Britain's best loved blues performers with a diaryful of club dates. Unless one was lucky enough to catch him live during this period, there is an entire corpus of material that lies unheard, and the tracks that close this collection open up those vistas to both old and new fans.

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