Various Artists

Stompin' 22: 25 Crazed Rhythm 'n' Blues Pounders!

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Ho hum -- another Stompin' compilation, another couple of dozen vintage obscurities from the early days of R&B. Each disc in the series is like unearthing the remains of a lost civilization -- this is rock & roll at its most embryonic, music that's so raw, wide-eyed and uninhibited that contemporary listeners will find it both deeply human and completely alien. Culled mostly from the early 1950s, these pre-Elvis recordings hail largely from small indie labels, meaning an even more primitive and rough-edged sound than the norm -- it's difficult to stress just how far removed this stuff sounds from contemporary urban music, and how vividly alive these so-called "artifacts" are by comparison. Though mastered directly from the original 78s and 45s, and probably of dubious legal origins, each volume in the series is clearly a labor of love, complete with full-color packaging and educated commentary on all 25 tracks. Highlights include Brownie McGhee's "All Night Party," Big Sheba's "Soft Soapin' Mama," Jimmy Butler's "Trim Your Tree" and Tasso Zachary's "Louisville KY."