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Acoustic Blues

Hooker 'N Heat

Hooker 'N Heat Lowest new price: $16.84
Lowest used price: $7.96
Model: 2018405

A milestone in the careers of all involved. For the Hook, this was the venerable bluesman's first time on the pop-album charts. For Canned Heat, it was, sadly, the last recording with Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson, who'd be dead of a drug overdose just months later. This 1971 double LP is here on 2 CDs, and it's a blues-boogie masterpiece.

This 1971 collaboration between primal one-part-Delta/one-part-Detroit singer-guitarist John Lee Hooker and Southern California blues revivalists Canned Heat works in large part because all parties involved are a little off. Hooker, the most unsystematic of the major bluesmen of his generation, isn't a good fit for disciplined players; rather, he requires sidemen who play by feel. In harp player-guitarist Alan Wilson, the Crawling King Snake found a particularly sympathetic foil; sadly, Wilson died shortly after these sessions were completed. Roughly divided into spare, gritty Delta exercises and full-on boogie stomps featuring the full band, Hooker 'n' Heat is surely one of Canned Heat's crowning moments, which isn't saying that much. But that it stands as a milestone in Hooker's oeuvre is quite a statement indeed! --Steven Stolder

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Ways Not To Lose

Ways Not To Lose Lowest new price: $8.00
Lowest used price: $6.97
Model: 2032650

Way's Not To Lose a stunning debut album of original songs from Oliver and Chris Wood (Medeski Martin & Wood). Like the work of Leon Russell, early Tom Waits, or Dr. John, the songs of The Wood Brothers possess a timeless quality; their bedrock melodies and astutely observed stories sound instantly archetypal. The songs are arranged just as the brothers conceived them expressive yet economical, letting Oliver's coarse, impressionistic guitar work and Chris' nimble, note-bending bass playing speak volumes. Blue Note. 2006.

Modern folk and blues rarely sounds as inventive and colorful as the Wood Brothers' spare, soothing studio debut. Currents of jazz, pop, and country also ripple through these 12 lovely arrangements built around Chris Wood's upright bass (previously heard in Medeski, Martin & Wood) and Oliver Wood's gentle acoustic and electric guitars. It's not simply that the brothers' sweet, high voices have the genetic gift of close harmony: they're in absolute synch creatively, too. So when one's singing lingers over a lazy phrase in a number like the languid ode to living "Chocolate on My Tongue," the other hangs back on his instrument until just the right, complementary moment. Drummer Kenny Wollesen, who plays on a handful of tracks, is on the same wavelength--never rushing or pushing the Woods' behind-the-beat sensibility. And the rich dark tones of the bass and, in particular, slide guitars perfectly illuminate their unhurried stories about spiritual discovery and the trials of life. All of which makes Ways Not to Lose a delightful, relaxed listening experience. --Ted Drozdowski

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Come On In This House

Come On In This House Lowest new price: $5.00
Lowest used price: $3.99
Brand: CD
Model: 2023522


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The Complete Plantation Recordings

The Complete Plantation Recordings Lowest new price: $8.19
Lowest used price: $2.17
Model: 2017017

Recorded on Stovall Plantation in Clarksdale, MS by Alan Lomax in 1941 and 1942, these 18 tracks represent the first recordings of a sharecropper named McKinley Morganfield a.k.a. Muddy Waters. And, yeah, there's an unreleased track, and four interviews, but really, for something this historic the less said the better. Just listen.

This is a treasure trove--for the Muddy Waters fan, for the blues historian, for the country-blues enthusiast. Alan Lomax, searching for Robert Johnson (recently deceased), came through and recorded a young McKinley Morganfield. The rest is history. Early versions of future classics can be found on these field recordings from 1941-42, and the guitar and voice that would have unimaginable influence on blues and rock & roll. There's no Chicago yet in these often-scratchy recordings, but if you listen, you can hear where it came from. --Genevieve Williams

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The Paramount Masters 1924-1932

The Paramount Masters 1924-1932 Lowest new price: $18.36
Lowest used price: $18.01
Brand: Various

The Wisconsin Chair Company was established in 1888. The business expanded into timberland and sawmills. After making cabinets for the Edison Company's phonographs, they decided to make phonographs and phonograph records, under two brand names, Puritan and Paramount. In 1919, Art Satherly was put in overall charge of recording. Paramount's early releases stayed in the mainstream, with performances of the Star Spangled Banner featuring. To defray losses, they moved into the 'race' market. In the first half of the year, they leased material from the Black Swan label. J. Mayo Williams, a young black man with connections to Black Swan, convinced Paramount that they needed him to supervise their 'race' recordings. Williams was able to parlayed himself into a pivotal role within the company, creating his own empire and eclipsing Art Satherley'. Paramount was able to embark on a recovery program that brought a wealth of valuable music. Unfortunately, for many reasons, the label never succeeded as well as it might have done. That said, Paramount saw off most of its competition when it came to recording the blues that formed the greater part of its catalogue. Other labels had varying degrees of success and but ultimately went out of business or were absorbed into larger organisations. Although it had its fair share of 'classic' blues singers such as Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter, Trixie Smith, and the magnificent Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey, the area in which Paramount held most of its riches was its comprehensive list of country blues musicians, of every sex and stripe . What this compilation seeks to do is reflect the enormous scope of country and urban blues on Paramount. It's fair to assume that most of these 100 sides sold few copies when first issued. What's indisputable more than 70 years later is the uniformly high quality of the music these men and women made before they disappeared into history's backwaters.

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Classic Years: 1927-1940

Classic Years: 1927-1940 Lowest new price: $19.35
Lowest used price: $23.89
Brand: McTell, Blind Willie

According to most accounts Blind Willie McTell was born in 1901, in Thomson, GA. He attended schools for the blind, locally and in New York. He read Braille and may have had some musical education. In the '20s he took up 12-string guitar. Others used it just for resonant strumming, but McTell had a complex picking technique. His first recordings were in 1927 for a Victor field trip. Most notable is Mama 'Taint Long Fo' Day, featuring superb slide work. The session yielded two releases. Neither was a hit but Victor recorded four more McTell sides when they returned to Atlanta a year later. Blind Willie's most famous song, Statesboro Blues, was recorded for Victor in 1928. His playing is masterly - his keening voice perfect for the material. Perhaps this is why the hitless McTell recorded so regularly. Willie also recorded for Columbia - as 'Blind Sammie'. Many bluesmen did this - but few so distinctively. Either Victor didn't recognize their artist or ignored any similarities. Would Victor willingly have missed Atlanta Strut, with its imitations of bass, cornet, mandolin and trombone' Blind Willie, Blind Sammie and - another alias - Georgia Bill on OKeh continued to record into the early 1930s. As the decade wore on, Willie returned to 'scuffling' for tips. In 1940 john and Ruby Lomax visited Atlanta. Willie, popular in town, was easily found. The Lomaxes recorded him talking and singing for two hours. Notable is Dying Crapshooters Blues - closely related to The Streets Of Laredo. The heartfelt gambling references suggest Willie himself suffered betting losses. The monologues give insights into a society long gone. He cut three more postwar sessions but by then he performed only religious material under his own name. The Blues were billed as by 'Barrelhouse Sammy.' In the 1950s, Blind Willie was still singing and playing around Atlanta. He died in 1959. Accounts of his later years vary. In one version he was the pastor of a local church.

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Suitcase Lowest new price: $4.62
Lowest used price: $3.50
Brand: Sony Music Cmg
Model: 2195780

Suitcase is the highly anticipated new studio album from three time Grammy award winning artist Keb' Mo. Produced by Keb' Mo and long time collaborator John Porter (B.B. King, Los Lonely Boys, Santana), Suitcase is Keb's first album of original music since 2004's Grammy winning release, Keep It Simple. Keb' Mo will be touring all summer and performing songs off of Suitcase on a nationwide tour with Bonnie Raitt.

The simple blues-informed pop charms of L.A. songwriter Kevin Moore remain unchanged on his eighth album. All twelve of these songs about romance and its triumphs and failures go down easy, thanks to his unhurried and unmannered singing, and arrangements that run slow and spare. That openness allows Moore's slide playing, perfected on the porch of Mississippi delta bluesman Eugene Powell, to add subtle, pretty decoration to tunes like "Your Love" and "Eileen." He's got a sympathetic cohort in John Porter, who also produced Moore's debut album and is especially adept at capturing the sounds of the acoustic instruments that dominate this disc. After pursuing all the twists and turns of love and its baggage on Suitcase, Moore ends the CD with "Life Is Beautiful," an ode to the pure and basic joys of life as a couple, reflected in a blithely primal trio accompaniment of crisp acoustic guitar, mandolin, and drums. --Ted Drozdowski

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An Evening With Eric Bibb

An Evening With Eric Bibb Lowest new price: $11.39
Lowest used price: $10.95
Brand: CD
Model: 3360849

This is Eric Bibb's first live CD ever! Eric fuses blues and folk to make a sound all his own. The 14-song recording features delicious covers as well as Eric's own songs. Included are some of Bibb's finest tunes, Shingle by Shingle, Panama Hat and Needed Time. David Bronze accompanies Eric on the bass.

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Happy Woman Blues

Happy Woman Blues Lowest new price: $9.75
Lowest used price: $4.79
Brand: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Model: SFW40003

Happy Woman Blues is the first recording to establish Lucinda as a songwriter of note. Lucinda's country and blues roots are evident throughout these compositions, and are off-set by her fresh, contemporary treatment. Liner notes by renowned critic John Morthland offer a passionate glimpse into the mind and career of this truly original artist.

All too often dismissed as an immature work that was quickly eclipsed by her self-titled breakthrough on Rough Trade, Williams's second and final album for Folkways reveals much about her current lyrical sensibility and vocal approach. Most singer-songwriters, in fact, would give their Martins for songs as good as "Lafayette" and "Maria." That she reprises "I Lost It" on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road and continues to explore this album's themes--the value of native ground and the endurance of loss--is enough evidence that, while not as overwhelming as the work to come, Happy Woman Blues should not be overlooked by fans of this vital artist. --Roy Kasten

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Backless Lowest new price: $24.94
Lowest used price: $1.44
Brand: RSO

Backless - Eric Clapton Vinyl LP


  • ASIN: B0071ZUKJI

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