The Blues (A Smithsonian Collection Of Classic Blues Singers) by Various Artists

Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
Release Date: October 8, 1993.
Recording Time: 288 minutes.
Release Info: Studio Recording.

Styles: Acoustic Blues, Blues Gospel, Classic Female Blues, Country Blues, Electric Blues, Acoustic Memphis Blues, Acoustic Texas Blues, Bop, Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, Early Jazz, Electric Chicago Blues, Field Recordings, Hard Bop, Jazz Blues, Jug Band, Jump Blues, Piano Blues, Piedmont Blues, Pre-War Blues, Pre-War Country Blues, Pre-War Gospel Blues, Regional Blues, Slide Guitar Blues, Soul Blues, Texas Blues, Urban Blues, West Coast Blues.

While any collection professing to be a definitive overview of a genre usually falls short of the mark, it's hard to find fault with this excellently researched and compiled four-disc set from the Smithsonian Collection. Running the recorded history of the music chronologically, the first disc explores the early sides by guitarists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Barbecue Bob, Blind Willie Johnson, and Tommy Johnson, and classic blues singers like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Sippie Wallace. Volume two rounds up sides from Leroy Carr, Mississippi John Hurt, Charley Patton, Memphis Minnie, Son House, and Big Joe Williams, as well as off-the-beaten-track delights from the Memphis Jug Band and the Mississippi Sheiks. The third volume continues in the history of Delta blues with classic entries from Robert Johnson and Bukka White, moving into the Bluebird beat, ending up with the first recordings from John Lee Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins. The final disc is a veritable feast of Chicago blues with classic sides galore from Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf, Otis Rush, and Jimmy Reed, finishing with more contemporary offerings from Ray Charles, Latimore, and a retro style closer from Cephas & Wiggins. The transfers on the really vintage sides are as good as any you're likely to come across, and the song selection throughout is impeccable. Add a sumptuous booklet chock-full of photos and an abundance of historical facts, all well-annotated by W.K. McNeil, and you've got a box set for the ages. Very, very well done. ~ Cub Koda

Credits: Texas Alexander - composer, performer, primary artist; Fulton Allen - composer; Kokomo Arnold - composer, performer, primary artist; Gary Atkinson - composer; Barbecue Bob - performer, primary artist; Count Basie - composer; Brook Benton - composer; Tewee Blackman - composer; Bobby "Blue" Bland - performer, primary artist; Lucille Bogan - composer; Dennis Britton - producer; Big Bill Broonzy - composer, performer, primary artist; Charles Brown - composer, performer, primary artist; Robert Brown - composer; Bumble Bee Slim - performer, primary artist; Cannon's Jug Stompers - performer, primary artist; Leroy Carr - composer, performer, primary artist; John Cephas - composer, performer, primary artist; Ray Charles - composer, performer, primary artist; Peter Chatman - composer; Lonnie Chatmon - composer; Jaybird Coleman - composer, performer, primary artist; Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup - composer, performer, primary artist; Walter Davis - composer, performer, primary artist; Luther Dixon - composer; Larry Douglas - composer; Eddie Durham - composer; Amos Easton - composer; Sleepy John Estes - composer, performer, primary artist; Blind Boy Fuller - performer, primary artist; Lowell Fulson - composer, performer, primary artist; David Glasser - cd preparation; Buddy Guy - performer, primary artist; John Hammond, Jr. - performer; Wynonie Harris - composer, performer, primary artist; Robert Hicks - composer; Les Hite - composer; John Lee Hooker - composer, performer, primary artist; Lightnin' Hopkins - composer, performer, primary artist; Son House - composer, performer, primary artist; Peg Leg Howell - performer, primary artist; Howlin' Wolf - composer, performer, primary artist; Mississippi John Hurt - composer, performer, primary artist; Jim Jackson - composer, performer, primary artist; Papa Charlie Jackson - composer, performer, primary artist; Elmore James - composer, performer, primary artist; Skip James - composer, performer, primary artist; Blind Lemon Jefferson - composer, performer, primary artist; Blind Willie Johnson - composer, performer, primary artist; Henry Johnson - composer, performer, primary artist; Lonnie Johnson - composer, performer, primary artist; Pete Johnson - composer; Robert Johnson - composer, performer, primary artist; Thomas "Snake" Johnson - performer; Tommy Johnson - composer, performer, primary artist; Louis Jordan - performer, primary artist; Kathy Kim - Production Coordination; Latimore - composer, performer, primary artist; Benny Latimore - composer; Ernest Lawlars - composer; Lead Belly - composer; Jerry Leiber - composer; Clarence Lewis - composer; Furry Lewis - composer, performer, primary artist; Noah Lewis - composer; Lightnin' Slim - performer, primary artist; Cripple Clarence Lofton - composer, performer, primary artist; Carl Martin - composer, performer, primary artist; Sara Martin - composer, performer, primary artist; Tommy McClennan - composer, performer, primary artist; Blind Willie McTell - composer, performer, primary artist; Memphis Jug Band - performer, primary artist; Memphis Minnie - performer, primary artist; Memphis Slim - composer, performer, primary artist; Big Maceo Merriweather - composer, performer, primary artist; Major Merriweather - composer; Mississippi Sheiks - performer, primary artist; Eurreal Montgomery - composer; Little Brother Montgomery - composer, performer, primary artist; Johnny Moore's Three Blazers - composer; McKinley Morganfield - composer; Junior Parker - composer, performer, primary artist; Charley Patton - composer, performer, primary artist; Marshall Paul - composer; Rufus G. Perryman - composer; Sam Phillips - composer; Amy Pickworth - picture research; Ma Rainey - composer, performer, primary artist; Andy Razaf - composer; Jimmy Reed - performer, primary artist; Renald Richard - composer; Don Robey - composer; Morgan Robinson - composer; Otis Rush - performer, primary artist; Jimmy Rushing - composer, performer, primary artist; Dan Sane - composer; Jane Sapp - editing; Ollie Shepard - composer; Al Smith - composer; Bessie Smith - composer, performer, primary artist; Speckled Red - performer, primary artist; Frank Stokes - composer, performer, primary artist; Mike Stoller - composer; Roosevelt Sykes - composer, performer, primary artist; Bruce Talbot - producer; Tampa Red - performer, primary artist; Henry Thomas - composer, performer, primary artist; Big Mama Thornton - performer, primary artist; Traditional - composer; Big Joe Turner - composer, performer, primary artist; John Tyler - mastering; Joe Veasey - composer; Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - performer, primary artist; Walter Vinson - composer; T-Bone Walker - composer, performer, primary artist; Sippie Wallace - composer, performer, primary artist; Larraine Walton - composer; Washboard Sam - performer, primary artist; Muddy Waters - composer, performer, primary artist; Will Weldon - composer; Junior Wells - composer, performer, primary artist; Jerry West - composer; Peetie Wheatstraw - composer, performer, primary artist; Booker T. Washington White - composer; Bukka White - composer, performer, primary artist; Hudson Whittaker - composer; Phil Wiggins - composer, performer, primary artist; Big Joe Williams - composer, performer, primary artist; Clarence Williams - composer; Eddie Williams - composer; Joe Williams - performer, primary artist; Sonny Boy Williamson II - composer, performer; Sonny Boy Williamson I - composer, performer, primary artist; Jimmy Witherspoon - composer, performer, primary artist; Jimmy Yancey - composer, performer, primary artist; Mama Yancey - composer, performer, primary artist.

Tracks, Disc 1: 1) Black Snake Moan - Blind Lemon Jefferson; 2) Broke and Hungry - Blind Lemon Jefferson; 3) Match Box Blues - Blind Lemon Jefferson; 4) Shake That Thing - Papa Charlie Jackson; 5) Shave 'Em Dry Blues - Ma Rainey; 6) Countin' the Blues - Ma Rainey; 7) Jailhouse Blues - Bessie Smith; 8) Mama's Got the Blues - Bessie Smith; 9) Backwater Blues - Bessie Smith; 10) Special Delivery Blues - Sippie Wallace; 11) Death Sting Me Blues - Sara Martin; 12) Barbecue Blues - Barbecue Bob; 13) Man Trouble Blues - Jaybird Coleman; 14) Long Lonesome Day Blues - Texas Alexander; 15) Kansas City Blues, Pts. 1 & 2 - Jim Jackson; 16) Why Don't You Come Home Blues - Furry Lewis; 17) Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground) - Blind Willie Johnson; 18) Minglewood Blues - Cannon's Jug Stompers; 19) Cool Drink of Water Blues - Tommy Johnson; 20) Big Road Blues - Tommy Johnson; 21) Bull Doze Blues - Henry Thomas; 22) How Long, How Long Blues, Pt. 1 - Leroy Carr.

Tracks, Disc 2: 1) Blues Before Sunrise - Leroy Carr; 2) Downtown Blues - Frank Stokes; 3) Stack O' Lee Blues - Mississippi John Hurt; 4) Rolling Mill Blues - Peg Leg Howell; 5) Mr. Johnson's Blues, No. 2 - Lonnie Johnson; 6) Pony Blues - Charley Patton; 7) 44 Blues - Roosevelt Sykes; 8) Bumble Bee Blues - Memphis Minnie; 9) I'm So Glad - Memphis Minnie; 10) The Dirty Dozens No. 1 - Speckled Red; 11) Divin' Duck Blues - Sleepy John Estes; 12) K.C. Moan - Memphis Jug Band; 13) Sitting on Top of the World - Mississippi Sheiks; 14) M & O Blues - Walter Davis; 15) Dry Spell Blues, Pt. 1 - Son House; 16) Devil Got My Woman - Skip James; 17) Chain Gang Bound - Bumble Bee Slim; 18) Broke Down Engine - Blind Willie McTell; 19) Big Bill Blues - Big Bill Broonzy; 20) I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town - Big Bill Broonzy; 21) Old Original Kokomo Blues - Kokomo Arnold; 22) Strut That Thing - Cripple Clarence Lofton; 23) Crow Jane - Carl Martin; 24) Baby Please Don't Go - Big Joe Williams.

Tracks, Disc 3: 1) The First Time I Met You - Little Brother Montgomery; 2) Dust My Broom - Robert Johnson; 3) Cross Road Blues - Robert Johnson; 4) Peetie Wheatstraw Stomp - Peetie Wheatstraw; 5) Good Morning Little Schoolgirl - Sonny Boy Williamson I; 6) Sloppy Drunk Blues - Sonny Boy Williamson I; 7) Sent for You Yesterday (And Here You Come Today) - Jimmy Rushing; 8) Roll 'Em Pete - Big Joe Turner; 9) Wee Baby Blues - Big Joe Turner; 10) Fixin' to Die Blues - Bukka White; 11) Step It up and Go - Blind Boy Fuller; 12) Anna Lou Blues - Tampa Red; 13) Worried Life Blues - Big Maceo Merriweather; 14) I've Been Treated Wrong - Washboard Sam; 15) T-Bone Blues - T-Bone Walker; 16) Stormy Monday - T-Bone Walker; 17) Mozelle Blues - Tommy McClennan; 18) It's a Low Down Dirty Shame - Louis Jordan; 19) Cherry Red - Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson; 20) That's All Right - Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup; 21) Driftin' Blues - Charles Brown; 22) Mr. Blues Jumped the Rabbit - Wynonie Harris; 23) Boogie Chillen' - John Lee Hooker; 24) Tim Moore's Farm - Lightnin' Hopkins; 25) No Rollin' Blues - Jimmy Witherspoon.

Tracks, Disc 4: 1) Louisiana Blues - Muddy Waters; 2) Honey Bee - Muddy Waters; 3) Reconsider Baby - Lowell Fulson; 4) Eyesight to the Blind - Aleck Miller; 5) Monkey Woman Blues - Jimmy and Mama Yancey; 6) Hound Dog - Big Mama Thornton; 7) Mystery Train - Junior Parker; 8) Hoodoo Man - Junior Wells; 9) Every Day I Have the Blues - Joe Williams; 10) Smokestack Lightning - Howlin' Wolf; 11) The Sky Is Crying - Elmore James; 12) Woman Blues Boogie - Memphis Slim; 13) Farther up the Road - Bobby "Blue" Bland; 14) I'll Take Care of You - Bobby "Blue" Bland; 15) The First Time I Met the Blues - Buddy Guy; 16) Rooster Blues - Lightnin' Slim; 17) So Many Roads, So Many Trains - Otis Rush; 18) Big Boss Man - Jimmy Reed; 19) I Got a Woman - Ray Charles; 20) Join the Army - Henry Johnson; 21) Let's Straighten It Out - Latimore; 22) Dog Days of August - John Cephas and Phil Wiggins.