J.B. Lenoir

The Blues

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At first listen, J.B. Lenoir might not impress. He was a rudimentary guitar player, generally using slow to midtempo Jimmy Reed-like blues progressions, and his voice was high-pitched and could waver at times, sometimes resembling a screech more than anything else. But first impressions can be deceiving. Lenoir was passionate and intelligent, with a strong personal and political agenda, and all these traits combine to make his body of work unlike any other player in the blues genre. This collection brings together a rather random selection of singles (including 1955's "Mama Talk to Your Daughter," the only national hit Lenoir ever had), alternate takes (the lead track, "The Mojo," is a delightful first-take shuffle complete with saxophone), and several live cuts, including a striking version of the stark, haunting "Alabama Blues." It's a bit of a hit-or-miss selection, and it doesn't make a great introduction to Lenoir, but there are enough high moments here to make it worth seeking out for fans of this one-of-a-kind blues artist.

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