This 52-disc (no, that is not a typo) comp, ABC of the Blues: The Ultimate Collection from the Delta to the Big Cities, may just indeed live up to its name. There are 98 artists represented , performing 1,040 tracks. The music begins at the beginning (though the set is not sequenced chronologically) with Charlie Patton, Son House, and Robert Johnson, and moves all the way through the vintage Chicago years of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, with stops along the way in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, New York, and all points in between. Certainly, some of these artists are considered more rhythm & blues than purely blues artists: the inclusion of music by Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris, Bo Diddley, and others makes that clear.
This three-CD set documents some historic country-blues performances by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Bukka White, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Mance Lipscomb. The urban side of things is well represented by Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim, Muddy Waters with Otis Spann, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and The Chambers Brothers turning in a riveting rendition of “See See Rider.” Included here are 11 previously unreleased tracks. A must for acoustic-blues fans.
25 CD box set. Following the model of The Perfect Jazz Collection, this format comes in a cube lift off lid box, holding 25 original albums by 25 different artists. All original albums are replicated in mini jacket sleeves. This excellent value package, contains albums by legendary performers from the Blues genre ranging from 1951-2003; across some real classic albums, from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Taj Mahal, Etta James and many others.
The Blues Masters series, much to Rhino`s credit, adopts an expansive definition of blues, allowing the likes of Count Basie, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Muddy Waters and even Louis Prima admission. There is none of the purist`s quibbling over strict 12-bar form or the relative significance of prewar and postwar styles.
What Rhino delivers instead is the blues in all its myriad guises. This music is old and new, black and white, acoustic and electric, folksy and jazzy, performed by women and men, and yet it is all still blues at its core.