Various Artists

Rolling Stone Presents: Blues

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It's hard not to look at the ten songs that comprise Rolling Stone presents Blues and think that this is the reason why so many blues fans are disenchanted with the state of contemporary blues. This is what most modern listeners think of when they think of the blues -- slick, stylized blues-rock, played either by veterans of the British Invasion or hippie chicks or boozy blooze bands or young virtuosos only interested in soloing. Apart from two classic cuts from Albert King and John Lee Hooker (actually, the latter isn't particularly well-known, it just dates from the '50s), that's what's here -- a lot of glossy, bluesy arena rock. There are some good cuts here -- the aforementioned King and Hook, plus Robert Cray's "Phone Booth," an early Fleetwood Mac cover of "Shake Your Moneymaker," Clapton's "Blues Before Sunrise" from 1994, the Fabulous Thunderbirds' sleek "Tuff Enuff" -- but it's misleading to call this the blues, and the sad fact is many listeners (especially new converts to Rolling Stone magazine) do believe this is real blues, and it's unfortunate this disc perpetuates that falsehood. Especially since it contains "Bad to the Bone."

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