There's an irony in the fact that while Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup was hardly a major figure as a bluesman (at best, he qualifies for the second tier), he was indirectly one of the fathers of rock & roll. Rather than his own work, his lingering reputation rests on the fact that Elvis Presley took no less than three of his songs and sculpted them into some of the ur-texts of rock. Those three songs, "That's All Right," "So Glad You're Mine," and "My Baby Left Me," are all here, although thankfully they're not given pride of place among the album's 22 tracks. Instead, they help indicate what a journeyman Crudup was. His guitar technique was nothing special, certainly not when compared to others (his version of "Dust My Broom" probably never caused Elmore James any sleepless nights, for example), but he had a vocal delivery like iron, and his whole approach was unique -- where other bluesmen seemed to draw ideas from each other, Crudup took an individual tack, making his work instantly recognizable. He seemed to instinctively understand how to best exploit both his strengths and weaknesses, and wrote to them. He certainly achieved a good level of popularity, and songs like "Ethel Mae" and "Keep Your Arms Around Me" were big successes, as he wrote more to be popular, rather than exorcise the pain in the manner of the truly great blues singers. That's not to denigrate him, by any means. But it does mean that these big songs are probably all the Crudup most people need in their collection.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson