A perspective on the evolution of the blues
Steven A. Peterson | Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL) | 06/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD, part of the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese's PBS series, showcases blues hits and singers from Robert Johnson and Son House to Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Allman Brothers. One can trace the evolution of blues from its raw beginnings to its more contemporary manifestations. As such, it is fun to listen to, although one can quarrel with the selections chosen for this single CD (there are other products available that are more inclusive). But I'm not quarreling about anything after having listened to this CD.
It starts right off with Robert Johnson singing "Cross Road Blues." It is always interesting listening to this artist, legend that he is. He sings with a raw blues voice and his characteristic guitar work. His role in the history of the blues is unquestioned.
Another pioneer was Son House, who--after many years of absence from the musical scene--was happily rediscovered in the 1960s. Listen to him sing "Death Letter Blues." No wonder he is so well reputed! A rough and ready voice and simple guitar work, a link to the early days of blues.
One of my favorites is Howlin' Wolf, represented here by his wonderful "Evil (Is Going On)." His rough, raw blues singing always appeals to me. He sings of evil going on, with fine backing music. He sings of "Mule kickin' in a door" and "You better watch your happy home." I'd say there's a little tension in the air!
And then another of my very favorite artists--Muddy Waters, singing "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man." The opening bars represent some of the absolute best blues work in the repertoire. Momma said of the birth of the character in the song that "He's gonna make pretty women jump and shout." Waters' blues singing is absolutely classic (Yes, I'm a cheerleader here). His backing musicians are wonderful (some great talent here, including Little Walter, Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, and Fred Below).
More contemporary? I could not resist listening to Janis Joplin again (It's been a long time since I've listened to her music), as she sings "One Good Man." Her familiar wailing voice sounds good to my ears. Some good backing music. She sings that she likes to go to parties and have fun--but what she really wants is one good man. As she says of such a person in her inimitable style:
"It ain't much,
It's only everything."
So, in the end, this is a fine compilation, taking, as it does, only a small segment of the music covered in the original series. Nonetheless, it provides one a nice example of the evolution of the blues over time.
A Must For The New To The Blues Or The Establihed Fan
W. Stover | PA, USA | 01/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having watched this series on PBS, I knew what I was getting when I made this purchase. For anyone new to the blues and wanting a good starter disc for a well rounded taste, this disc is a must have. It affords the listener a sampling of the evolution of the blues sound, beginning with the founders right up to today. For the established blues fan, it's a nice addition to their collection. A great disc for travelling."