Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews

This Is The Blues Volume 3 – Various Artists – Eagle Rock This Is The Blues Volume 4 – Various Artists – Eagle Rock

Blues anthologies combine the past and present in a respectful tribute to Blues giants.

Published on September 13, 2010

This Is The Blues Volume 3 – Various Artists – Eagle Rock
This Is The Blues Volume 4 – Various Artists – Eagle Rock
This Is The Blues Volume 3 – Various Artists – Eagle Rock
This Is The Blues Volume 4 – Various Artists – Eagle Rock

This Is The Blues Volume 3 – Various Artists – Eagle Rock ER201762, 78:00 ****: 

This Is The Blues Volume 4 – Various Artists – Eagle Rock ER201772, 71:05 ****:

(Featuring Jeff Beck, Mick Taylor; Gary Booker; Savoy Brown; Rory Gallagher; Ian Anderson; Peter Green; Jack Bruce; Georgie Fame; Gary Moore; Southside Johnny; Top Topham; Harvey Mandel, Arthur Brown; and many others.)

For a significant number of music aficionados, blues music may have been introduced by the British rock and roll establishment. The Rolling Stones (whose name was taken from a Muddy Waters song), Savoy Brown, the Animals, Foghat, and Cream, were influenced by the raw uncompromised music emanating from rural and urban America. Irony aside, the ranks of England’s rock scene lent ample support to these artists, in the studio and on the road.

This Is The Blues, Volumes 3 & 4, continues the anthology theme of the prior two CDs. The thirty tracks have been selected from the Pete Brown-produced tribute albums, Clarksdale to Heaven; Remembering John Lee Hooker, Knights of the Blues Tables, and Rattlesnake Guitar; Music of Peter Green.  Songs from Robert Johnson, T-Bone Burnett, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker and Peter Green are paid tribute by a variety of well-known, obscure and at times surprising artists commonly identified with rock. There are numerous, spirited renditions, with polished arrangements, not usually associated with pure blues records. Peter Green Splinter Group opens with a down and dirty version of “Crawlin’ King Snake”, loaded with acoustic guitar and moaning vocals. Blues-based rockers Savoy Brown energize the Willie Dixon classic, “Little Red Rooster”, with a scintillating guitar solo by Kim Simmonds.  Gary Booker, leader of the classical music-influenced Procol Harum, delivers two raucous performance on voice and piano (“Little Wheel’ and “Baby Lee”), reminiscent of his extensive r & b roots. Mick Taylor, a former member of The Rolling Stones, lends his considerable slide guitar talent to “This Is Hip”. Jeff Beck fronts a gospel revival rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”, with barrelhouse piano and a soulful choir that soars.

The party atmosphere continues with a rollicking “Judgment Day”, delivered with attitude by the Pretty Things. “Bad Like Jesse James” receives a faithful adaptation from LLC, a fitting tribute to the iconic Hooker, snarling and fierce. What is transformative about this collection is the wide array of artists, whose contributions are very intriguing. Arthur Brown (as in The Crazy World of…) brandishes his trademark scream on “The Green Manalishi”.  Session veteran Big Jim Sullivan lays down a brilliant slow blues acoustic guitar that segues into a sublime, howling vocal by Maggie Bell. Top Topham, original member of the Yardbirds, resurfaces on the Peter Green opus, “Drifting”, emphasizing the genesis of the late 1960s British music invasion.

This is a triumphant acknowledgement of some of modern music’s unsung heroes whose recognition has yet to be fully attained. For British Rock enthusiasts, the liner notes are informative and copious in detail.
Volume 3: Crawlin’ King Snake; If You Be My Baby; Bad Like Jesse James; Little Red Rooster; Serve Me Right To Suffer; Little Wheel; Showbiz Blues; One More Mile; I’ve Got News For You; The Same Way; The Supernatural; Hellbound On My Trail; Fleetwood Mac; Merry Go Round; Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Volume 4: This Is Hip; Judgment Day; Looking For Somebody; Baby Lee; Blind Man; Man Of The World; The Green Manalishi; Watch Out; Lazy Poker Blues; The Business; Drifting; A Fool No More; If You Live; Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood; Oh Well.

—  Robbie Gerson               

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