As the world of early acoustic blues was morphing into R&B and so-called "race" records, the beat became more prevalent, electric organs and guitars took the forefront, and bar walking saxophonists added an entertainment value. The music was raw, wild, and wooly, as represented on this collection of much lesser known artists who straddled the line of the two musics, but somehow lost their ticket on the gravy train in a sheer numbers crunch (and no small part a racial divide) to more universally accessible and popular big name acts. The most well known musicians here are pianist Katie Webster (as an accompanist) and Juke Boy Bonner, as these recordings provide intriguing preludes to their latter found fame. It's the seminal recordings from Sticks Herman, Clarence Garlow, Shelton Dunaway, Elton Anderson and Big Chenier that set this collection apart, as their pioneering trailblazing through this music forms the rough and ready roots of rock & roll. Their wailing, freewheeling, juke joint jump outcry and facile musicianship, while not as refined as the bluesmen to come, established a foundation for distinctive musicians such as Jimmy Reed and Fats Domino. Listen to their tunes and hear the distinct parallel lines they draw. Despite the Mesozoic production technology of the period, this proves a valuable reference point for what would be popular music of the '50s and '60s.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos