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Various Artists: The Roots of It All: Acoustic Blues - The Definitive Collection, Vol. 3

Album Notes

Although it's billed as being devoted to the '60s and '70s, the third volume of Bear Family's Acoustic Blues series showcases the great blues revival of the '60s (only 14 of its 48 cuts are from the '70s, and most of those are from the early '70s). The great blues revival, like the simultaneous folk revival, was the re-emergence of acoustic blues that was partially fueled by young kids on college campuses who discovered the blues for the first time. At the time, electric blues was still a viable commercial concern and its ongoing success naturally helped position acoustic blues as a more traditional music, since it dispensed with the amplification and rhythm that helped keep electric blues on the charts. That said, the popularity of acoustic blues was great enough that playing acoustically was an enticing commercial prospect, not just for old guys like Lonnie Johnson and Son House, but for Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, too. Consequently, this era of acoustic blues was vibrant, as aging legends were given the opportunity to be recorded in high fidelity and marquee stars (not just Muddy and Wolf, but Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker) returned to their roots. Unlike the blues on the first two installments of Acoustic Blues, there is a slight sense of preservation to this tradition -- a sense that the artists, labels, and audience are conscious that the music feels like it did earlier in the century -- but since so many of the original stars and their disciples were around, the music still feels alive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine



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