Juke Box Boogie is entirely too modern a title for Doctor Ross, a Mississippi bluesman who often just bashed out a rhythm on his guitar while he wailed away on his harp. He was often recorded with just his guitar and harmonica in tow, but during his sessions for Sun there were times when he was augmented by a drummer and another guitarist, or perhaps a guy on washboard, and as the '50s became the '60s, he found himself up in Detroit playing with a full band. These sessions amount to the "Plus" on Bear Family's Juke Box Boogie: The Sun Years, Plus, a 32-track collection capturing all of his sides for Sun (including alternates and unreleased cuts), the single he made for Chess in 1951, and sides that showed up on Fortune and Hi-Q in the '60s. This means the disc covers a wide span of time, something close to 15 years (it's unclear when the final Fortune single was cut but it was somewhere between 1965 and 1970), but most of this dates from the '50s and most of it finds him rocking away all by his lonesome, or something pretty close to it. Which is a roundabout way of saying this is some pretty primitive blues, but the exciting thing about it is that it's bare-bones boogie with its heart in the city, not country: it's the missing link between early Lightnin' Hopkins and Jimmy Reed. Over the long haul, the primitivism of Doctor Ross can be a bit much -- the added instrumentation of his Detroit sides doesn't dilute the blues, but rather comes as a welcome bit of color -- but this music wasn't meant to be listened to in an hourlong blast, it was meant to be doled out side by side, and if you approach Juke Box Boogie in that fashion, there is plenty of rip-roaring electrified blues boogie to be enjoyed here.
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