Various Artists

Piano Blues [Hallmark/ABM]

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Piano Blues [Hallmark/ABM] Review

by Bradley Torreano

Comprised of songs from the early days of the genre, Piano Blues is a pretty good collection of the essential early years of the blues. The musicians here may not be familiar to many listeners, but their tortured songs are textbook examples of how to sing the blues. Tracks like Lil Johnson and Tampa Red's "House Rent Scuffle" and Cripple Clarence Lofton's "Had a Dream" have a blunt sadness about them that is sorely missing from much of modern blues. What many of these artists had were severe real life problems, and these fueled their depression and their need to perform. Plus the crawling basslines and bursts of expressive music that are staples of the genre were still relatively new at this point, so the sound has a tense energy about it that stems from the experimentation these artists were still going through. The sound quality is one of the only real complaints about the album, as some tracks sound relatively good but many of them have a tinny whine that makes the piano shrill and annoying at points. Still, that is actually a fairly minor complaint considering how old these recordings are. It may not be a popular choice with those who do not follow this genre, but this collection is a very solid one and is recommended for blues enthusiasts.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Montana Taylor 03:21 Amazon
2 Turner Parrish 03:16 Amazon
Little Brother Montgomery 02:34 Amazon
4 Louise Johnson 03:03 Amazon
5 Wesley Wallace 03:10 Amazon
Bessie Jackson / Walter Roland 02:41 Amazon
7 Romeo Nelson 02:57 Amazon
8 Kokomo Arnold / Roosevelt Sykes 03:16 Amazon
9 Jabo Williams 03:13 Amazon
10 Lil Johnson / Tampa Red 02:48 Amazon
11 Leothus Lee Green 03:08 Amazon
03:09 Amazon
13 Albert Ammons 03:05 Amazon
Black Ivory King 04:00 Amazon
15 Cripple Clarence Lofton 02:46 Amazon
16 Pinetop Smith 02:46 Amazon
17 Scrapper Blackwell / Dot Rice 03:07 Amazon
18 George Noble 03:21 Amazon
19 Cow Cow Davenport / Ivy Smith 03:12 Amazon
20 John Oscar 02:58 Amazon
21 Scrapper Blackwell / Leroy Carr 02:39 Amazon
Milton Sparks 02:44 Amazon
23 Estella Yancey / Jimmy Yancey 02:59 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick