Lucille Bogan / Walter Roland

The Essential

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Rather than merely stacking up most of the recordings that Lucille Bogan and Walter Roland made together during the Great Depression, the Classic Blues label sifted through the discographies of both artists to assemble this useful 36-track overview of their respective careers, covering the years 1927-1935. Bogan sang the blues with passion and honesty; Roland was mainly a blues and boogie-woogie pianist who also handled the guitar. Their complete recordings were reissued by the Document label during the 1990s: three volumes for Bogan and two for Roland, who was the singer's primary accompanist during the early '30s. Released in 2002, The Essential is an expanded version of a much more modest edition presented by Yazoo in 1992. Part of the pleasure of studying musicians like these two is the way in which their lives and works were connected to those of other worthy artists. Bogan and Roland worked with guitarists Josh White and Sonny Scott, and show up on retrospective collections released under those names. This kind of research can be illuminating, entertaining, and pleasantly rewarding; the best place to start is with a well-constructed "Essential" anthology like this excellent Classic Blues edition.

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