On this excellent release from the World Music Network's ever-reliable Rough Guide series, a host of unknown early blues artists get their due. While Robert Johnson, Son House, and a handful of other greats from the 1920s and '30s have become widely recognized icons of the pre-war blues era, so many lesser-known, though no less talented, players have slipped through the cracks. Opening with Henry Thomas' spirited "Fishing Blues" (complete with a pan flute solo), The Rough Guide to Unsung Heroes of Country Blues winds its way through a series of wonderful and obscure country-blues gems. The eerie "My Buddy Blind Papa Lemon" by King Solomon Hill and the soulful "Roll and Tumble Blues" by Hambone Willie Newbern are both examples of innovative slide techniques by unique voices who have remained largely unrecognized by history. With ragtime, jazz, folk, and African styles slowly compounding into what would become the blues tradition, these were the everyday artists writing the new songs and developing the patterns that would become the hallmarks of some of America's greatest music.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger