Various Artists

Rediscovered Blues

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This two CD set captures four blues giants in several classic studio dates. The first six tracks are spirited performances in a jam session that includes guitarists Lightnin' Hopkins, Brownie McGhee, and Big Joe Williams, plus Sonny Terry on harmonica. The humorous vocal exchanges on the laid-back "Ain't Nothin' Like Whiskey" and the upbeat "Wimmin From Coast to Coast" are riotous, and the crisp lines of the acoustic guitars are timeless. McGhee and Terry made many fine duo recordings together, but the dozen tracks included from a 1959 session are among their best. Their vocals complement one another very well on "Lose Your Money," while "Louise" showcases Terry's emotional harmonica against McGhee's strong vocal and driving guitar. The last 16 tracks featuring Big Joe Williams don't measure up to the rest of the package. Accompanied by an unidentified bassist and drummer in a 1968 studio session, the sound is surprisingly distorted due to sloppy engineering and poor microphone placement. Even so, Williams manages to perform decent, if poorly recorded, versions of "Pearly Mae" and "Toledo to Buffalo." This collectible set should be considered essential by blues fans.

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