Sonny Boy Williamson - The Classic Sides - JSP

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Sonny Boy Williamson - The Classic Sides - JSP

Postby blueswriter » Fri Jun 01, 2007 6:23 pm

Sonny Boy Williamson
Cool Cool Blues - The Classic Sides 1951-1954
JSP (2006) 7766

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4 CDs, 102 tracks, 278 minutes, essential. It would be nice to see the JSP label come up with a bit more originality when it comes to the titles of their continuing series of box sets. Sonny Boy Williamson gets top billing on this 102-track compilation with 40-plus cuts, but the lineup of the other featured artists is simply stunning. Big Joe Williams, Willie Love, Luther Huff, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Jerry McCain, Tiny Kennedy, Wally Mercer and Sherman "Blues" Johnson add plenty of interest as well. If that's not enough, you also get the maiden voyage of Elmore James with his first waxing of Dust My Broom, plus its brilliant flip-side by the enigmatic Bobo Thomas, whose Catfish Blues seems to have risen from the dark, rich soil of Mississippi itself. While a good portion of the names here are familiar to blues listeners, the efforts of the lesser-knowns are no less wonderful. Willie Love's piano antics and booming voice are solid on Take It Easy Baby, Everybody's Fishing, Vanity Dresser Boogie, the virtual tour of his Greenville home for Nelson Street Blues, and the threatening V-8 Ford, where Love employs 'Big Boy' Hogan for some much needed grave-digging. Sherman "Blues" Johnson shouts the terrific Pretty Baby Blues and the humorous Hot Fish, plus two others in great style. Tiny Kennedy handles five, including the fabulous Early In The Morning Baby with a cackling intro from Elmer, The Disc Jockey Rooster, while the thumping shuffle of Have You Heard About The Farmer's Daughter has Calvin Newborn's completely crushing guitar break. Wally Mercer delivers Too Old To Get Married, Hey Miss Lula and If You Don't Mean Business. Jerry McCain is solid on his first recordings, and "Big Boy" Crudup gets a half-dozen, including sides which had him masquerading as Elmer James and Arthur "Blues" Crump when they were originally issued! Many examples of Sonny Boy's plaintive vocals and earthy harp playing are available, but for the uninitiated, his songwriting was always filled with wit, wisdom and an ability to paint pictures of vivid detail. While there has been no shortage of the early Sonny Boy sides, this set includes the 45 and 78 RPM versions of She Brought Life Back To The Dead along with alternate takes of From The Bottom, Going In Your Direction, I Ain't Beggin' Nobody and more, plus alternates for a handful of Love and Crudup sides. Neil Slaven's liner notes are finely crafted and there are complete session details listing all sidemen, including B.B. King, Little Milton, Joe Willie Wilkins and others. While JSP continues issuing extensive-yet-affordable sets, the Trumpet label honestly deserves a closer look as Lillian McMurray's imprint also issued some fine gospel and rockabilly sides.

JSP Records

© 2007 by Craig Ruskey
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