V/A - The Rough Guide To The Blues
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While Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones might be the most well-known blues fans, bands today will occasionally cite long forgotten Delta blues men as influences, as such the Metro Riots and Blind Willie McTell (here with ‘Broke Down Engine Blues’). The Metro Riots won’t outlive the legends included on this compilation as the 22 tracks lead us through the history of the blues from Mamie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson to the ‘golden’ era of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.
Clapton had a festival at the Royal Albert Hall for a week when he got some of his heroes to play with him such as B.B. King and Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker. As these artists reach the end of their careers you could say the blues itself is at the crossroads.
What has taken over? Well Williamson admits that it’s been a nostalgia genre for the past 20 years. Sure there’s been Robert Cray but his style is not to everyone’s taste. The likes of Chris Thomas King have updated the sound by fusing it with hip hop (as represented here with R.L Burnside featuring Tokyo exile Lyrics Born here) so there are sparks of life.
And, of course, as the blues have ‘returned’ to Africa, it’s likely the next generation of long-haired white college kids living in English suburbs will be fascinated by this roots music by musicians with equally fascinating names.
I’m sure there’s many a (former) long-haired blues fan that can tell you every song Big Bill Bronzy or Joe Turner ever made but you don’t have to dig that deep to appreciate the blues. Perhaps one of its problems is that nothing sounds so overwhelmingly rockin’ as ‘Mannish Boy’ even now. That said, also try other Rough Guides that feature the genre like Planet Rock and Bottleneck Blues. There’s a book coming out to accompany the CD.
Hectic Mix nomination: ‘Mannish Boy’, ‘Goin Down South’, ‘Erdi’, ‘Black Snake Moan’
Reviewed: Various — The Rough Guide To The Blues (World Music Network) Cat. No. RGNET 1180 CD Release date: 20th February 2007 Compiled by Nigel Williamson and contains an interview with the compiler.
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