Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Week Of 6/19 - Trip Hop, Downtempo, EBM, Industrial, , Brazilian trad.

A mostly mellow week this time around, lots of lighter fair with just a dash of harder dance sounds thrown in to keep it lively...

New And Recent Releases:
Army Of The Universe
Kill The F* DJ
Label: Dim Mak Records
Released: 6/19 2012
Genre: Industrial, Electro

A digital only release from this Italian powerhouses, AOU has once more produced some seriously awesome music. The title track is a nearly harsh electro rhythm with EBM beats pounding away. The album remixes are still hard, though one of them gives a nearly classic rave-style treatment to the song which smacks a little or irony. The two other tracks on here are a good progression for AOU and their sound - a little more electro than their debut. And it's all good, I really hope a new full album comes out of these guys in the next year or so, their sound really is in that sweet zone of dance-club and rock-out.

Label: Alfa Matrix
Released: 6/19 2012
Genre: Darkwave, EBM

One track single from Ayria for her upcoming new release. A dancefloor ready number, nice and bouncy. Still with some dark undertones keeps it out of the pop- genre and prevents it from sinking into mediocrity. Definitely makes me look forward to the full album.

Adding To The Collection:
The Impossible Thrill
Label: Astralwerks
Released: 2001
Genre: Trip-Hop

An old trip hop group, this album coming out as the genre was leaving dance-floor popularity behind. It's rather mediocre overall honestly. I do like that it switches between male and female vocals instead of sticking to just female trip-hop. Something Alpha was known for. But, they never really put the production team together to go the extra step. This album, in particular, actually starts to put me to sleep. Good for relaxing afternoon, but not much else. I think this is very out of print as well.

Kruder & Dorfmeister
The K&D Sessions™
Label: g-stoned
Released: 1998
Genre: Downtempo, DJ Mix

An old school DJ Mix, unlike a lot of mixes from the late 90s, this one falls on the downtempo side, delving into some trip hop and touches of dub. It's good, not as sleep inducing as Alpha is, but still mellow. This is the kind of thing that would play in the side-room (or chill-room) at a rave. You can still dance to it, but it's much slower, mellower. It's also a 2-CD mix, so this is a good one to put on and just let play out for a few hours of relaxtion. Not out of print, still moderately easy to find or order.

Think Global
Acoustic Brazil
Label: World Music Network
Released: 2008
Genre: Traditional Brazilian, Latin

The Think Global series are similar to the Rough Guides, though they tend to focus on larger regions, or have less focus musically. Acoustic Brazil pulls in from all kinds of sources. It's upbeat, but not loud, the don't just play lip service to the 'acoustic' part, most (or all I think) is unplugged. Some of them recorded just for this production. Lot's of different kinds of Latin styles mixed into this, with some more traditional styles specific to Brazil like Caipira (a 'country' style). Very good, not as chill as the trip-hop and downtempo entries, this stuff still moves around a bit. As a note, the Think Global series donates money to Oxfam International.

Hidden Tracks:
Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra
Trout Hear Replica and Want It Back
Label: self-released
These are two more digital single tracks from Amanda Palmer and her new album given out to Kickstarter backers. While not yet available to the public, I wanted to give my thoughts on the upcoming album: it's going to be good. Not a rehash of her Dresden Dolls days, the sound has moved forward by borrowing from the past. Lots of 80s tints the songs here, each in a different way, without trying to Be 80s. I'll post links when her album becomes available for order, and naturally review the whole thing when I get it in my hands.

Next Week:
A Rough Guide to Morocco, an Adam Ant best of, several singles crossed my path (Art Brut, Sinsect, and Clutch), and a compilation from Metropolis Records. Listen Hard!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Sippie Wallace, Peetie Wheatstraw

Getting down towards the end of the ABC Of The Blues... Volumes 47 and 48

Muddy Waters
McKinley Morganfield, known by stage name Muddy Waters, is considered the father of modern Chicago Blues. While there's some minor controversy over his nickname, it's most widely (and probably correctly) accepted it came out of the 1927 flood in Mississippi where he was born. He'd moved to Chicago in 1940, but quickly moved back to Mississippi and opened a Juke Joint. The Library of Congress recorded him twice, in 1941 and 42. He moved back to Chicago in 1943 to become a professional musician after hearing those. Muddy quickly rose to prominence in the 1950s, his band become the starting point for a number of musicians. He continued on with steady success until his death, due in part to his louder electric blues style.

Some of the recordings here are the much earlier pre-Chicago era recordings from his early career. And we get some of his later Chicago Blues sound as well. A good mix, with some of his hits. His discography is very easy to get a hold of still so the scattered selection is a good sample.

Junior Wells
Another Chicago Bluesman, Junior Wells started with Muddy Waters band in the 1950s, a strong harmonica player. He would go on to support the Rolling Stones numerous times in the 1970s, bleeding the Chicago Blues with more rock. He never completely left the blues behind, he never had a big career as a solo artist, though it was steady.

Great blues harmonica leads all the songs here. All the recordings are nice and clean, and include his few hits from his solo recordings as well. The seeds for the modern Chicago Sound are here, learned from his time with Muddy Waters' band carried into his solo career. All the cuts here are earlier from before his output started to waver from a pure Chicago sound.

Sippie Wallace
Sippie started out in Chicago's jazz scene before getting into the blues in the 1920s. Known as the Texas Nightingale on early billings. She moved to Detroit soon after, where her husband and brother both died in 1936. She dropped out of the music scene until the mid 60s, where she was coaxed out of retirement as the folk blues revival was getting into full swing. She enjoyed a solid twenty year career from that point until her death after a stroke.

Unfortunately, many of the recordings here are from early 78s and are of poor quality. Whomever recorded these did not do a great job of cleaning them up, her voice is almost lost in the hiss in some instances. Though not all of them are that bad, there isn't anything from her comeback career to compare it to.

Peetie Wheatstraw
Stage name of William Bunch, Wheatstraw was on of the most prolific recorded blues artists of the 1930s. Born around 1902, he moved to St Louis in the late 1920s where he started to play. While the only known picture shows him with a guitar, he primarily played piano. He was a consistent seller of recordings during the depression, even with a two year hiatus from 32-34 to perfect his piano playing.

Due to the nature of a drastically reduced recording industry in the 1930s, most of Peetie's music (and others of the era) have a nearly stagnant consistency to them. In a short set like the ten tracks here it's not particularly noticeable though. All the recordings are fairly clean, with very little hiss. A lot of devil references are in play too, some say this is where Robert Johnson got his idea.

The next two volumes cover Johnny Guitar Watson, Big Joe Williams, and both Sonny Boy Williamsons (John Lee & Rice Miller).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Week OF 6/12 - Punk, A Cappella, Trip Hop, soundtracks

Many soundtracks are hard to classify properly, it can switch genres from song to song. You can do one of two things in a digital playlist, make the genre 'Soundtrack' (the more common option) or properly classify each song (what I do). This week is both Kill Bill soundtracks, along with a modern Torch Songs compilation I found crate digging at a tent-sale, and some other fun items....

New Releases:
Bouncing Souls
Label: Rise Records / Chunksaah Records
Released: 6/12 2012
Genre: Punk

Bouncing Souls are one of those bands I've always meant to buy an album from, but have never done so... for whatever reasons (or no reason, just is). So I changed that with their latest release. I'm a moderate fan of them, I've been kind of following them since the late 90s or so, enjoying what songs I do come across. Comet is pretty much exactly what I expected from this group, solid east coast punk - plenty of attitude, good melody. While nothing on the album makes me stand up and take notice in a "this is pure awesome" kind of way, I don't want to skip any tracks either. Good, solid, all around punk rock. I think I'll go pick up their back catalog now.

Adding To The Collection:
Pandora Celtica
On Thin Ice
Label: self-released
Released: 2010
Genre: A Cappella, Christmas

Christmas in June! The bonus here is that they don't just do the same 10 songs that are always done for a holiday album. Some strange bits like Santa Claus Got Eaten By The Kraken find their way in. An absolutely awesome cover of Hazy Shade Of Winter is here, turns out the song did need an a cappella version done. Along with some other Christmasy songs, or wintery as the case may be, good album to toss into the holiday pile to keep the mix actually mixed.

Kill Bill
Volume 1
Label: Maverick / A Band Apart
Released: 2004
Genre: soundtrack

Installment one of the movie soundtrack. Opening with Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) is a good choice I think, for the movie and soundtrack. There are some soundscore pieces here as well as songs from the movie. Along with some parts not in the movie like Ode To Oren Ishii which, well, should have been left off. There's all kinds of great mood pieces on here, as Tarantino really does have an ear for action and understands tension. Good movie, good soundtrack.

Kill Bill
Volume 2
Label: Maverick / A Band Apart
Released: 2004
Genre: soundtrack

Installment two... just as epic as the first. A few more audio bits from the movie, which is a few more than it needed. But it's also got Ennio Morricone on it, which means that track alone is worth the price of entry. Same deal as the first volume, soundscore pieces make the album. Another RZA track - this time hidden at the end of the album - really needed to be left off, especially as it completely ruins the outro beauty of the final song. There isn't as much to the second volume, but it's a perfect compliment to the first, and they should have just come together in one package.

A Six Degrees Collection Of Modern Torch Songs
Label: Six Degrees
Released: 2003
Genre: Trip Hop, Downtempo

I'm wasn't completely sure what I'd get when I saw the title of this one digging through boxes of used CDs during a local record store tent sale, and for a dollar I was completely willing to take the chance. Sadly, this is now out of print, but it's a good testament to early 2000s trip-hop. They all fall, more or less, into proper torch style, and include some choices I would't have thought would make torch songs. dZihan & Kamien, Snooze, and a remix by Nitin Sawhney. Though the last two are known for their downtempo mixes so that's not a total surprise.  It's a good collection, light, and full of unrequited love. If you run across it I recommend picking it up.

Next Week:
Several downtempo albums, some new Army Of The Universe, and Ayria, and a few other things I've found hiding in my stack of goodies pulled at random.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Big Joe Turner, Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson, T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Witherspoon

And we continue on, nearing the end of this adventure with Volumes 45 and 46...

Big Joe Turner
Joseph Vernon Turner, called Big Joe due to his stature of 6'3, was an early blues shouter. Starting in Kansas City in the 1920s and through the 30s, making a few recordings there. He moved to Los Angeles in 1939 and signed with several record companies through the 1940s, not producing many hits but still charting high enough to continue. It was the 1950s, as many bluesmen were seeing a decline, that Big Joe scored a few hits on the R&B charts. Though he did not stick to strictly blues music during that time. He returned to the blues in the mid 1960s, getting a few more hits. And continued on until his death in 1985.

Shouters had to sing over the band without the benefit of a microphone, as such early vocalists had powerful voices, and bands were fairly stripped down affairs. All of which are present here in this collection of earlier recordings.

Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson
Called Cleanhead after his hair was ruin in an accident involving lye-tainted hair product. Born in Texas, he learned the saxophone and moved to New York. Eddie oscillated between blues and jazz freely and constantly. An important figure in the music scene of both, he's not quite a true bluesman in the sense most artists in this box set are. He gained some popularity when he moved to Los Angeles in the 50s, and again during the 70s when playing a jazz festival with Johnny Otis.

As expected from an artist who was in both Blues and Jazz, the selections here are heavily mixed with the two. I find his inclusion here a little odd, as comprehensive as the box set is, Eddie Vinson would be better placed in a jazz retrospective with the blues highlights and not a full blues set like this. Still, this is good clean saxophone and entirely enjoyable to listen to.

T-Bone Walker
Aaron Thibeaux Walker, one of the more influential and key bluesmen in history. Born in Dallas he left school by ten to perform with his family, and made his first recording by nineteen. While a multi-instrumentalist it was his guitar he was famous for. He was also the first blues artist to record using an electric guitar, pioneering electric blues, and jump blues, both with his style. While his career slowed down over time, his influence never slacked and the critics, at least, felt his output was consistently good.

A good collection of hits, some early recordings, and lesser known songs. It's not too hard to showcase T-Bone's guitar, and the set here does manage to push a little further into his other instrumentation. But not very far, it's still predominately electric blues guitar.

Jimmy Witherspoon
Originally from Arkansas, Jimmy's career didn't really start up until radio play to soldiers in World War 2 heard him playing with a band in Calcutta, India. He gained some success in the late 1940s, primarily as a Jump Blues singer, and maintained a career through the waning 50s. He continued to record and tour during the fifties and sixties, and enjoyed a minor resurgence in the 1970s.

Jimmy's jump blues, at least as presented here, is full of jazz rhythms, almost more so than blues rhythms. While still a good selection with a decent number of hits and some more obscure tracks, it's similar to Eddie Vinson's selection - being as much non-blues as it is blues.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Week Of 6/5 - Psychedelic Rock, Hip Hop, EBM, Industrial, Gothic Rock

Late post today... for no reason other than it's late. Lots of different records, I digitized a number of records because I had the time for it. A lot of recently added albums, and two albums from way back in the day...

New And Recent Releases:
Fear Factory
The Industrialist
Label: Candlelight USA
Released: 6/5 2012
Genre: Idustrial Rock

Fear Factory have been around for a long time and with this record they're down to two of the original core members - Bell and Cazares - and the sound is still pretty much the same. A little more refined, but just as hard, just as industrial with pounding drums and grinding guitars. I haven't bought a Fear Factory album in ten years to be honest, Digimortal being the last one I bought. But I have caught songs through the 2000s, and nothing really impressed me. This feels like a return to form, while never having really left the form to begin with. It's good, solid, hard, indusitral-rock and an excellent album.

Solillaquists Of Sound
The 4th Wall Part 1
Label: Self-Released ( )
Released: 6/2 2012
Genre: Hip Hop

The long awaited third full album from this hip-hop outfit, and it's as excellent as the first two. Their sound is evolving, production is getting better. DiVinci is still creating some excellent beats, some very traditional some almost metal in sound. And the lyrics are both spot on culture statements, and flow really really well. It's just great music. If you manage to pick up one of the few hard copies from their website directly they send a link to the instrumental only version of the album, which makes for great ambient music.

The Black Angels
Watch Out / I'd Rather Be Lonely
Label: Blue Hoirzon
Released: 4/21 2012
Genre: Psychedelic Rock

A two track single put out on Record Store Day 2012, on orange vinyl no less. It comes with a 3 track download that includes a cover of The Zombies She's Not There. The first two tracks are pretty good, but it's their cover song that's really good. They really nail the original while not directly copying it. I really do like these guys, and can't wait to see what they do with their next album.

Label: Black Rain / Alfa Matrix
Released: Early 2012
Genre: EBM

A six track remix record for the Y2112Y album, there is a digital download version with 8-tracks. All the remixes don't deviate too far away from the originals, which were pretty decent dance tracks themselves. The members of 32Crash are amongst the original EBM scene and know the style down without going backwards. 32Crash is definitely forward style and the remixes are solid work. The vinyl is definitely for hard core collectors, and I believe a very low number were made. The digital album, with the two bonus tracks, is excellent.

Adding To The Collection:
More & Faster
Label: Wax Trax!
Released: 1989
Genre: Industrial

A three track 12" from KMFDM right before they broke through and started to help put industrial music on the map. This was really before they added guitars into the mix. The first track, Rip The System, is typical KMFDM chant against the system. More & Faster is now typical KMFDM personal defacement. And then the B-Side Naff Off is studio outtake gone almost too far. It's all classic KMFDM and the tracks are all still available in other places now, at the time, this was an awesome record.

The March Violets
Natural History
Label: Rebirth
Released: 1984
Genre: Gothic Rock

The first full album from this classic Goth Rock band from the UK. Part of the first wave of UK Gothic Rock, they lasted about 6 years before breaking up. But this album, is all classic club rock. I'm not sure if this was ever released on CD (sources say no). Technically, this is just the first 4 singles they put out and some tracks from an 83 John Peel session. But, in the US it's pretty much all you could get. Which means this little addition is a piece of history that really can't be shared unless you got it back in the day or search for it now (it's not too hard to find...).

Next Week:
The new Bouncing Souls, Pandora Celtica christmas album (when better than June!), both Kill Bill soundtracks, and a compilation of modern Torch songs.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry, Eddie Taylor

Getting down into the last 10 volumes of the ABC Of The Blues...

Big Mama Thornton
Starting her career in the early 1940s with the Hot Harlem Revue in Georgia. Big Mama was a singer, drummer and harmonica player. She moved to Houston in the late 1940s and started her recording career with the first recording of Hound Dog, made famous by Elvis only five years later. As with many blues artists her career began to flag in the 1950s, she lasted into the early 1960s before moving to San Fransisco and performing mostly in local clubs. Drinking had taken its toll by the 1970s and she released very few records after that. She passed away in 1984 from a heart attack.

Big Mama had a big voice and often backed by a full band, the recordings here are full of Jump Blues as well, another uptempo style. Some of the songs are from later on when she led a larger revue, and some from her earlier solo days. Another artist where the box set nicely pulls from across her career.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Rosetta was mostly a gospel singer, but unique in that she incorporated very early rock styles, mostly boogie and early R&B, into her songs. The combination of the uptempo rhythms and the very traditional gospel singing had made her a hit with secular audiences in the 1930s, though decidedly less popular with the non-secular audience. Her record Strange Things Happening Every Day (1944) has occasionally been credited as the first rock and roll record ever. In the 1940s she was paired with Marie Knight by the record company, performing a common call-response style. In 1951 Knight went solo, and both artists took a downturn in popularity. Tharpe returned to a more strict gospel, not coming back to the more rock style until the resurgence in blues in the 1960s.

Not really blues in the strictest sense, today she'd be placed either with Gospel or possibly with R&B, sometimes called the "first soul sister" her uptempo style is not something the blues would entirely embrace until later on from the start of her career. Still, an important part of the early blues scene as it's a bridge from the classic folk, country and East Coast styles of the 1930s to Rock And Roll from the 1950s. The music here is amazing early 'rock' in every sense of the word.

Sonny Terry
An east coast harmonica player, Sonny primarily stuck with Piedmont Blues, though he didn't limit himself there. His style of harmonica was energetic and often included shouts and hollers of one kind or another. As the blues waned in the 1950s he joined the growing folk movement and continued to make music until the 1980s when he died of natural causes.

His music here is from both earlier Piedmont and later Folk recordings, most of them showcasing his harmonica right up front. Definitely a musician to add if you want solid harmonica playing in your collection. A lot of energy, and sometimes the songs are really one long harmonica solo.

Eddie Taylor
Eddie was one of the many blues guitarists in the Chicago Blues scene. While he never attained stardom like some of his contemporaries, he was integral in the scene. He played accompaniment to a number of records and artists through the years and stayed in the blues scene in Chicago even as the popularity waxed and waned. He passed away in 1985 on Christmas day.

Pulling from the few solo recordings Eddie made while in Chicago, he wasn't as prolific as some contemporaries - at least for solo records. Lots of classic Chicago Blues as expected, with harmonica, and long electric guitar solos. For a cross section of Chicago through a few decades of time this is an excellent cross section.

Next Week - Big Joe Turner, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, T-Bone Walker, and Jimmy Whitherspoon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Week of 5/29 - Rock, Ambient, Celtic, Dubstep

This week some new stuff from an "old school" dubstep (is it old enough a style to have an old school sound? Probably), a rough guide to Celtic Women, and more! This week is odd that pretty much everything was released in the last three months - a little catch up of newer stuff, some of which I've had hanging around a few weeks to boot.

New and Recent Releases:
Street Halo / Kindred
Label: Beatrec
Released: 5/29 2012
Genre: Dubstep, Ambient

This is technically a US release of two Japanese singles, each with three tracks. Comes complete with an Obi Strip (that rather annoying piece of spine paper covering outside the case). Burial has been around for a decent amount of time, well before dubstep was all fuzzy wobbles. Though these six tracks come across as much more ambient, and darker, than some earlier stuff. No fast paced dance beats, no heavy fuzz, and very little wobble in the bass. But it really really is superb sounding stuff. While I actually hesitate to slide it into the dubstep label, because it's such an amazing piece of dark ambient soundscape.

Diablo III Soundtrack
Label: Blizzard Entertainment
Released: 5/15 2012
Genre: Ambient

The digital version of the album is available in the iTunes music store, being the big fan I am I have the CD Release that comes with the Collector's Edition of the game. Like the previous soundtrack they did an excellent job making the music fit the game, and updating it a little bit. This album was recorded with a full orchestra in an wide open space, not a studio. And you can hear the difference. Beyond the game, the music here is good atmospheric music for a number of places. It has quiet and loud places, some soft, some hard, but overall it invokes a bit of a creepy feeling, and sometimes a good fight scene, and a few epic build ups. If you're a gamer of the table top variety this is a good addition for some mood music for a fantasy RPG.

The Shins
Port Of Morrow
Label: Aural Apothecary Records
Released: March 2012
Genre: Rock

Mercer, the lead singer and guitarist here, is the other half of Broken Bells. Being a big fan of Dangermouse I had picked that up and decided to check out the other half. The Shins are good, but they're also pretty straight forward garage, or indie, rock. The sound isn't anything particularly daring or special or even innovative. But it is good, plain old rock and roll so to speak. I like it, it's not overly brash and loud, nor is it boring sound like the musicians would rather be somewhere else (I hear a lot of bands like that and take a pass on them). Nope, this is just good, plain, rock music. And I like that. Definitely worth picking up.

The Rough Guide To Celtic Women
w/ Bonus Teresa Doyle 'Orrachan'
Label: World Music Network
Released: Spring 2012

I have several compilations of 'Celtic Women' I've gotten over the years, so one more isn't going to make a splash. I sometimes wonder why I don't see 'Celtic Men' compilations, they seem rare enough from a casual glance. So, this collection is a good solid gathering of strong voices, a wide range of styles, more of the songs are in Irish, a very few in English. It's a decent and diverse compilation of modern and older women in the scene of traditional Irish music. If you're just getting into it, this is a good starting place for up and coming musicians to find. If you've been into the scene, this might help find newer voices to add.

The bonus disc is from Teresa Doyle has been around at least twenty years, a Canadian with strong Irish ties, many 'Irish' singers are from Maritime Canada actually. Her voice is soft and often described as 'ethereal'. We get the full Orrachan album with this two-disc release, originally published by Bedlam Records if you want just her album. Most of the songs here come across as dirges though, which is odd. I don't think they're all actually dirges, but between her voice and guitar and the arrangement that's the feeling I get. But, it is very good, and a little different from many traditional Irish with more instruments than you can shake a stick at sometimes.

Next Week:
some old Gothic Rock, some new EBM, some classic industrial, some modern psychedelic rock, and new hip-hop and industrial rock to round it out. Listen Hard!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Roosevelt Sykes, Son House, Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Shines

Even more continued adventures into The ABC Of The Blues - volumes 41 and 42 now... getting into the home stretch.

Roosevelt Sykes
Sykes was born in Alabama in 1906, at fifteen he left home and went traveling as a musician. In the mid 1930s he ended up in Chicago. Until then he was a pretty standard blues musician, creating a number of standards in the blues scene. In Chicago he switched from the classic 12-bar to an 8-bar blues, a more pop sounding boogie-woogie. Though the forties he was a minor hit, producing a number of records without attaining huge fame. By the 1950s he, like many blues musicians, found that the blues didn't make money anymore, not even a small amount. Moving south to New Orleans as the electric blues and Rock'N'Roll took over, he continued playing. In the 60s he had a short revival as did most blues musicians from the effort to document the old blues from the past half century. He died in New Orleans of a heart attack in 1983.

The opening track in his set is his standard, which became a general blues standard, 44 Blues. After that it's a number of clean recordings of both some hits and some tracks from deeper in his collection of blues both straight 12-bar and a more pop sounding jumping 8-bar boogie. A good mix of his overall career.

Son House
Son House is as much legend as he is bluesman. An influence on Robert Johnson (it was Son who reportedly started the rumor Johnson had sold his soul), Muddy Waters, and many others. For all that Son House was never a big name in the popular scene. He had a few failed recordings in the 1930s, and then fell into obscurity for the next thirty years. The blues revival of the 1960s brought him out of obscurity and he finally go the success in recordings he missed earlier. He toured until his death in 1988.

This is deep folk and country blues, some of it gospel given Son's occupation as a Baptist preacher for some time. Some of the recordings are nice and clean, possibly from later dates, but some have the heavy hiss common with taking older recordings off of surviving 78s. Like many others from early on in the history of the blues in this collection, it's just Son and his guitar for most of the tracks.

Sunnyland Slim
Albert Laundrew, going by Sunnyland Slim, was one of the few blues musicians who career never really took a break. Recording from the mid 20s, he had moved to Chicago in the early 1940s and started to recording in earnest. Even with the decline in the blues in the 50s Sunnyland was a musician who never fell far enough out to stop playing. An accomplished pianist and a singer with a loud projecting voice, he kept making records and touring, right up to his death in 1988.

There's a fairly wide variety of classic blues layered in here. His long recording history through several evolutions of the blues gives his playing here a wide retrospective to look back through. He didn't stick to one style, and it shows with the way he moves from pure folk to electric, rhythm and blues, and even a little boogie.

Johnny Shines
Shines has a complicated recording history, he began playing in the late 20s or early 30s, and managed to record some in 1935. Those records weren't release. Later he moved to Chicago and became part of the blues scene there, where again he recorded but the records weren't released. A few years later he recorded again, by then it was 1952 and blues records were in sharp decline, his records were a commercial failure and Johnny left music. He came back during the revival in 1965 and finally recorded for Vanguard what would be his first hit. In 1980 he had as stroke that stopped his playing, until 1988 when he was able to start up again and toured for the next four years until his death.

 For someone with such a stop and start recording career, Johnny was pretty consistent with his blues playing. A classic country-folk blues guitar style and vocals. All very smooth, and low down and bluesy. As one might expect, but still, he was in a lot of places at a lot of times and didn't pick up much influence from the 'popular' styles being put out. Very good and it's too bad he never got the sales to make himself a bigger name in the popular eye.

Next Week - Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry, and Eddie Taylor come up in Volumes 43 and 44.