Review: Highlights from The History of Rhythm & Blues: 1925-1942

Posted on: Saturday, May 16, 2009

“Highlights from The History of Rhythm & Blues: 1925-1942”

(Rhythm and Blues Records: RANDB002)

Anyone looking for a great sampler to hear some of the classic early rhythm and blues could do worse than to check out this 25-track release – highlights from a 4-cd set, “The History Of Rhythm And Blues, Volume One, 1925-42 (RANDB001) – with excellent sound quality given the age of some of these recordings, but best of all, a 28-page booklet with comprehensive analysis of each track.

Containing a mix of several styles – country blues, piano boogie-woogie, urban blues and gospel, swing and jive – the release contains some big names of the time such as, Bessie Smith, Leroy Carr and Sonny Boy Williamson, alongside lesser-known people such as Louie Lasky, Doctor Clayton and Rufus & Ben Quillian.

For fans of some of the early blues guitar greats this features Blind Willie Johnson’s timeless “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine”; the original “Rollin’ And Tumblin’ – “Roll And Tumble Blues” by Hambone Willie Newbern; and one from the recognised master of the pre-war blues, Robert Johnson – represented here by “Preachin’ Blues”.

Jazz and swing from the period is from the masters such as Count Basie – with his 1936 “Boogie Woogie”; Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson, together on “Roll ‘Em Pete” and Jay McShann’s “Confessing The Blues” – all great stuff indeed.

To show the quality of this compilation, in the middle of the running order we are treated to Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup in succession – with the chosen tracks being some of their well-known songs, and despite being around 70 years old, all sounding just great!

As an introduction to early blues and more this compilation takes some beating – and to anyone doing research or a historian – I would imagine pretty essential, well done to compiler, Nick Duckett and to all concerned.


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