Sunday, September 23, 2018

Down Home Blues: New York, Cincinnati and the North Eastern States: Tough Enough (4 CD box set)

Just released is the third box set in Wienerworld’s Down Home Blues series that explores the unique regions of the black American blues scene. This release features 37 artists, many of whom were influential in developing the down home blues scene, including Brownie McGhee, Big Chief Ellis, Alonzo Scales, Cousin Leroy and others.

The box set contains the down home blues of the territories of the North Eastern States that encompasses two important cities that certainly helped in the development and growth of this blues genre. Mainly from artists who were far more comfortable playing their music within the bars and out-of-town juke joints. The tough little venues that were quite different from the bigger rhythm and blues, jazz orchestrated venues that New York and North-eastern cities had established for those bigger sounds.

This is black American musicians, many with pre-war country blues roots which had evolved with an edge that didn't have to come out of the Delta and migrate up to the Illinois or Michigan cites during and after the Second World War. Here, many hailed from Florida, Georgia, Alabama and The Carolinas. 110 performances from single solo artists who were lucky enough to get just one, sublime record release, up to the tight small combo groups of musicians whom all produced equally fine intense recordings.

A four CD set, packaged in a deluxe digipak with an outer slip case, featuring 110 rare tracks, all digitally remastered, some of which have never been reissued since their original release.

Also features an 80 page book on the origins of the music and the blues scene in this region by eminent blues writer and scholar Chris Bentley, complete with essay, rare photos, track listing and full sessionography.

official website

Marty's review: This very comprehensive compilation of authentic black American blues from the 1940's to 1960's is expansive and emotionally rich. Many of these artists will be unfamiliar to blues enthusiasts but their recorded output is essential not only as historical documents but to the development of blues music as an art form. Covering all genres of blues from acoustic, electric, piano, harmonica, vocal and instrumental to male, female and group artists it is timeless in its presentation while being very accessible as an album of raw, energetic blues.

The audio restoration, engineering and mastering is technically polished making each track harmonically-rich and highly-listenable. Trying to select highlights from a 110 track list is near impossible as each track stands on its own and is equally entertaining and dynamic as the next. 

The accompanying 80 page book is a treasure in itself. Well researched, written and compiled by Chris Bentley, it contains a biography of each and every artist and their relevant recordings with rare pictures, disc labels and track by track listing.

This not just another blues compilation or a rehash of previously released tracks but a very satisfying and exceptional collection of notable artists displaying their talents in top-flight mode.

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