Elmore James / John Brim

Whose Muddy Shoes

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Elmore James had recorded a session for Chess in 1953 before settling down with the Bihari Brothers and again in 1960, shortly before starting his final recordings for Bobby Robinson's Fire, Fury and Enjoy labels. This collects up all of them with the bonus addition of an alternate take of "The Sun Is Shining," which can be interpreted as a precursor to his later hit "The Sky Is Crying." The earlier sides from 1953 lack his inimitable slide, but the 1960 session produced classics like "Talk to Me Baby," "Madison Blues" and a powerful reading of T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday." These tracks of James working with the Chess production team are delightfully fleshed out with a half-dozen gems by the highly underrated John Brim, some of which include stellar harp work by Little Walter ("Rattlesnake," "Be Careful" -- on which Walter stops playing in several spots to become an ad-lib backup vocalist -- and "You Got Me") as well as the original version of "Ice Cream Man," better known to rock fans from Van Halen's cover version of it from their debut album.

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