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Essential Sonny Boy Williamson
Sonny Boy Williamson
Essential Sonny Boy Williamson
Genres: Blues, Pop
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (22) - Disc #2

Rice Miller, "Sonny Boy II", began his association with Chess Records in 1955, when he was already at least 45 years old. His exuberant yet dynamic and intricate playing brought the harmonica from the Delta to Chicago, inf...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Sonny Boy Williamson
Title: Essential Sonny Boy Williamson
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Mca
Original Release Date: 6/8/1993
Release Date: 6/8/1993
Genres: Blues, Pop
Styles: Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, Traditional Blues, Electric Blues, Harmonica Blues
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 076732934326, 076732934340

Rice Miller, "Sonny Boy II", began his association with Chess Records in 1955, when he was already at least 45 years old. His exuberant yet dynamic and intricate playing brought the harmonica from the Delta to Chicago, influencing every harp blower since. He developed his rough and wild, hard-swinging, juke-joint style during extensive travels throughout the South. These 45 potent Chess recordings are more refined and urbanized than his earlier Trumpet work, but still capture the excitement of those early sides. Included are remakes of Trumpet classics such as "Eyesight to the Blind" (re-titled "Born Blind") as well as classic gems including "One Way Out" and "Bring It On Home." --Marc Greilsamer

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CD Reviews

One of the best collections by one of the best blues singers
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 05/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a superb collection.
Singer/harpist Aleck "Rice" Miller may have started calling himself "Sonny Boy Williamson" to take advantage of the fame of John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson from Tennessee. But he wasn't a cheap imitator - Miller was one of the major blues artists at Chess Records in the 50s, alongside Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and probably the best harmonica player the blues has even seen.

Rice Miller was a tremendous songwriter whose keen attention to detail was quite unusual in a genre which relied heavily on cliché and a handful of repeated patterns. He penned witty, sometimes romantic, sometimes venomous lyrics, and tunes memorable enough to rival those of Chess stalwart Willie Dixon. He was an equally terrific singer, highly expressive, and usually backed in the studio by superstar musicians like Dixon, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Otis Spann and Robert "Jr." Lockwood.

Sometimes a double-disc compilation is stretching it, especially for the casual fan, but these 45 tracks are not even close to being too many. Absolutely everything on "The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson" is worth a listen, and I can easily name another dozen songs which should have been here...Miller's recordings for Chess maintained an incredible level of quality.
There are really too many highlights to mention, but among the very best songs are "Don't Start Me To Talkin'", "All My Love In Vain", "Your Funeral And My Trial", "Let Me Explain" and "Fattening Frogs For Snakes" from Miller's first Chess LP, as well as "Help Me", "Checkin' Up On My Baby", "Too Young To Die" and many, many more - and more than half of these tracks are not on the single-disc MCA/Chess-release "His Best", which should be sufficent reason to pick up this fine collection instead.

And while you're at it, get Miller's early Trumpet recordings as well on Arhoolie's "King Biscuit Time"!"
Raw Blues At Its Finest
Kurt Harding | Boerne TX | 12/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Though I had heard many of his songs performed by others, I did not know the name Sonny Boy Williamson until I heard a John Mayall song about him thirtysome years ago. Recently, my dormant interest in the Delta blues was rekindled, so I decided to try and find out just what this Sonny Boy was about.
Where better to start than a box set? I really had no idea what to expect when I bought it, but what I got was more than expected. I took the set on a recent road trip and listened to both discs more than five times each and found something new to like each time.
The verdict? I love this stuff. Not only can Sonny Boy play his blues harp like no other, he can really sing. His songs are well-written and are often humorous when they are not meant to be. The sound is great too, one can hear every instrument at work, particularly the drums which drive the easy swing of Sonny's blues.
My favorites? I like every song. If I had to pick, Unseen Eye and Somebody Help Me would be near the top.
The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson dishes out a heaping plateful of raw blues at its primitive finest. Don't miss out on this one, its money well-spent."
The greatest storyteller blues singer
L. E STOTTLEMEYER | KCMO | 03/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sonny always had a great story song- There was always some predicament going on or some trouble he was in or just simply him being nosey and signafying on other folks problems. And all of this made him the best story teller. I absolutely love his storytelling in song. He was without a doubt the most compelling storyteller in all of Blues history. Buy this cd it's great and listen to the great stories. Sonny in one song says quote- "My baby asked me for 100 dollars and I didn't have but 99"- or the greatest (aint gone be no more sugar daddy) song ever recorded called "Fattening frogs for snakes" and of course his biggest hit is included on this package-1955's "Don't start me talking" because Sonny says when he starts talkin "he'll tell everything he knows". All of these are great classic blues songs from a true blues genius."