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The Real Folk Blues - More Real Folk Blues (Reissue Remastered)

Sonny Boy Williamson

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Album Review

Like other entries in the Chess Real Folk Blues series, Sonny Boy Williamson's The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folk Blues (here combined onto one CD) were not really folk, and not really regular albums. Rather, they were somewhat arbitrarily chosen compilations, titled to appeal to the crowd that had gotten turned onto the blues during the 1960s folk revival. In Williamson's case, all 24 tracks were done between 1960 and 1964, save "Dissatisfied," which dates from 1957. Because the standard of the electric blues on this disc is very good, whether on the smaller-combo workouts or ones that add organ or saxes, one hates to discuss it dispassionately in terms of whether it's really necessary or advisable to fit into your collection. But the presence of other comprehensive Williamson anthologies on the market, and the lack of any real coherent theme to this particular grouping of songs, makes that necessary. If you have the one-disc His Best CD, this doesn't make a bad supplement; it does repeat eight songs from His Best, it's true, but it has 16 songs that are not on that collection. Conversely, if you have the more extensive two-CD Essential anthology, you'll find only eight songs here that aren't on Essential, which means rather short value. At any rate, this does have several of his best and most familiar songs: "One Way Out," "Bye Bye Bird," "Help Me," "Nine Below Zero," and "Down Child." The eight songs that don't show up on either His Best or Essential are worth having, whether you get them here or on another disc, the highlights of those being "Got to Move" (with cool gospel organ), the bouncy "Peach Tree," and the novelty rap "The Hunt," which sounds like an attempt to match the success of Bo Diddley's similarly constructed "Say Man."

Biography

Born: 30 March 1914 in Jackson, TN

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s

Easily the most important harmonica player of the prewar era, John Lee Williamson almost single-handedly made the humble mouth organ a worthy lead instrument for blues bands — leading the way for the amazing innovations of Little Walter and a platoon of others to follow. If not for his tragic murder in 1948 while on his way home from a Chicago...
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