Various Artists

New York Blues 1945-1956: Rub a Little Boogie

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New York City had a varied and vigorous blues scene in the 1940s and 1950s that fed off of several different factors, from the emerging folk revival and the left-leaning politics that accompanied it to the increasing number of clubs and showcases that featured uptown jump blues and jazz bands, and it didn’t hurt that the East Coast recording industry was also centered in the city. Aside from Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, there aren’t a lot of recognizable names on this four-disc, 113-track set that surveys the New York blues scene between 1945 and 1956, but that doesn’t stop this collection from being a whole lot of fun as well as being a valuable bit of seldom-documented blues history. Names like Big Chief Ellis, Leroy Dallas, Alonzo Scales, Allen Bunn, Bob Gaddy, Bobby Harris, Alec Seward (aka Duke Bayou), and Carolina Slim aren’t going to ring many bells with anyone outside of a circle of serious blues collectors and scholars, but the music they deliver is full of a loose vitality. New York didn’t define the blues genre a whole lot, as other places like Chicago, Memphis, and New Orleans did, but that doesn’t make the tracks collected in this expansive box set any less valuable -- the blues is the blues, wherever you find it.

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