Big Bill Broonzy

The Story of the Blues

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The Story of the Blues is a handsome series of tall-packaged double-CD sets released by Blues Alliance. Each edition features a well-known and posthumously respected figure like Muddy Waters, Brownie McGhee, or Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup. To borrow a term from the Grammys, the rather ungainly "special limited-edition packaging" that characterizes this series is sure to appeal mostly to those who like to collect special limited editions to be stored on bookshelves next to the collected works of Langston Hughes and the Oxford English Dictionary. The volume devoted to Big Bill Broonzy mainly features examples from the 1930s, with the second disc gradually focusing upon his later work. It accomplishes precisely what the producers intended, which is to present a digestible assortment of great blues recordings from various points in the artist's career. This is one of several Broonzy collections to perpetuate erroneous data by incorrectly rechristening his "Big Bill Blues" as "Big Billy Blues." Broonzy was never known as "Big Billy" and certainly never recorded a "Big Billy Blues." The error was made in 1999 by the U.K.'s Castle Pulse records, and has since spread unchecked to no less than seven other Broonzy collections. It is an amusing example of how flawed data can spread like an oil slick in the brave new Age of Information.

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