Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Memphis was the closest big city to the Mississippi Delta and this became a magnet for blues singers desperate to escape the hardships of the Delta country. Its epicentre was the lawless and rowdy Beale Street and it was here that many of the great Delta bluesmen were recorded as well as one of the few women to emerge from the Delta blues scene, Memphis Minnie. On the featured track ‘I’m Talking About You’, she is accompanied by Joe McCoy ‘Kansas Joe’, her second husband, who along with his brother Charlie McCoy were important instrumental sidemen appearing on a number of seminal blues recordings.
One of the pioneering musicians of the Delta, Willie Brown was a contemporary of Charley Patton and Son House and disappeared from the music scene during the 1940s. One of the great blues riddles is whether the featured Kid Bailey was a pseudonym for Willie Brown. Mystery pervades this collection with scant little known about many of these Delta pioneers, from the country blues divas Geechie Wiley and Mattie Delaney to the enigmatic Mississippi Bracey – was he related to his more illustrious namesake Ishman Bracey? What we do know is that the first Great Migration from the South to ‘the Promised Land’ of Chicago brought more African Americans from Mississippi than any other state. With the migrants came the Delta blues which became the foundation of the classic post-war Chicago blues style and in turn shaped the development of popular music around the world.
Performers include: Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, Bukka White, Skip James, Fred McDowell, John Hurt, Son House, Charley Patton, R.L. Burnside, Geechie Wiley, Elvie Thomas.
A fantastic compilation that really does span the length of Mississippi Delta blues, from the early days of the Mississippi Sheiks and Charley Patton (with the classic "High Water Everywhere Part One") through to the modern but equally rooted sounds of Asie Payton, R.L. Burnside, and the late Junior Kimbrough. And it's every bit as thorough in between, with all the big names (Robert Johnson [of course], Skip James, Son House, Muddy Waters, and many more) and some who are not so widely known, like Louise Johnson and Bo Carter. And it's not just the selection of artists that's astonishingly good and complete, but also the tracks picked, which have plenty of classics, as well as a real range of experience of the Delta blues. More than any other record that's attempted to convey the depth and breadth of the style, this succeeds in stunning fashion. It's the perfect primer to the roots of the blues as they stand, and while the tracks aren't arranged in any kind of chronological order, the feel that crosses time is consistent. This is absolute magic. ~ Chris Nickson