Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Delta Blues

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A fantastic compilation that really does span the length of Mississippi Delta blues, from the early days of the Mississippi Sheiks and Charley Patton (with the classic "High Water Everywhere Part One") through to the modern but equally rooted sounds of Asie Payton, R.L. Burnside, and the late Junior Kimbrough. And it's every bit as thorough in between, with all the big names (Robert Johnson [of course], Skip James, Son House, Muddy Waters, and many more) and some who are not so widely known, like Louise Johnson and Bo Carter. And it's not just the selection of artists that's astonishingly good and complete, but also the tracks picked, which have plenty of classics, as well as a real range of experience of the Delta blues. More than any other record that's attempted to convey the depth and breadth of the style, this succeeds in stunning fashion. It's the perfect primer to the roots of the blues as they stand, and while the tracks aren't arranged in any kind of chronological order, the feel that crosses time is consistent. This is absolute magic.

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