Elmore James

The Sky Is Crying: The Legendary Fire/Enjoy Sessions

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Mississippi born and raised, Elmore James learned his trade in the Delta in the 1930s, emerging in the early '50s as the godfather of modern electric guitar, and no guitarist who ever plugged an instrument into an amp is free of his influence. Not only did he create the template for electric slide players everywhere, he also reworked his amps until they delivered a raw, overdriven sound that became endemic in pop and rock music a decade later, and no punk band ever sounded more ragged or passionate than Elmore James in full stride. James recorded for some dozen labels during his short recording career (he died in 1963 of a heart attack at the age of 45), and he is one of those rare artists whose recorded output was seamless from the first to the last. This wonderful three-disc set includes material James recorded for Bobby Robinson's Fire and Enjoy imprints between 1959 and 1961, and it includes yet another two versions of James' signature retooling of Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom." The roaring slide riff that opens "Dust My Broom" is among the most recognizable in all of blues history, and it is repeated many times over these three discs since labels constantly demanded it. James delivered it under a range of different titles, and amazingly, no one ever seems to get tired of it. But James wasn't a one-trick pony, and aside from recycling killer version after killer version of "Dust My Broom," this set also contains his classic takes on the majestic "It Hurts Me Too," "The Sky Is Crying," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," and his rewrite of another Johnson standard, "Standing at the Crossroads." Check out the ragged yet elegant drive of "Can't Stop Loving My Baby" or "Up Jumped Elmore" to hear why he remains a guitarist's guitarist to this day. And don't forget James as a vocalist, either. He sang like his life depended on it every second, which is why there is literally no Elmore James collection that won't deliver the goods. This box set is no exception.

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