Two giants of the early Chicago blues scene, Big Bill Broonzy and Washboard Sam claimed to be half-brothers. While this is factually unsubstantiated, there's no doubt that the two men were musical kin. Though they both had considerable success on their own, they performed together extensively in the 1930s and '40s. Sam's star had begun to fade by the time he and Broonzy paired up on their self-titled 1953 Chess Records release, and though it would become a lasting testament to the duo's shared musical spirit, it was Sam's last recording before a long period of retirement (like many of his peers, he enjoyed a comeback in the '60s).
Broonzy and Sam split the lead role down the middle on this album, but their musical union throughout is as infectious as it is undeniable. Sam's washboard provides raw, rhythmic propulsion, sounding like a train that almost (but never quite) runs off the tracks, perfectly underpinning Broonzy's masterly guitar lines. It's hard to believe that Sam could retire after making an album like this, but then again, he would have had a hard time topping it.