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The Definitive Blind Willie McTell

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Album Review

This double-CD set is a little misleading. It is definitive, but only in terms of McTell's Columbia and Okeh sides — you won't find "Statesboro Blues" or his other earliest sides here, because they were done for Victor. But the material that is here is all worthwhile, and this is the best single source for McTell's work for those labels (done under a variety of names) from the mid-'30s, very nicely remastered and thoroughly annotated, although producer Lawrence Cohn concedes that even Sony Legacy was unable to locate sources on a handful of songs that McTell is known to have recorded.


Born: 05 May 1901 in Thomson, GA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s

Willie Samuel McTell was one of the blues' greatest guitarists, and also one of the finest singers ever to work in blues. A major figure with a local following in Atlanta from the 1920s onward, he recorded dozens of sides throughout the '30s under a multitude of names -- all the better to juggle "exclusive" relationships with many different record labels at once -- including Blind Willie, Blind Sammie, Hot Shot Willie, and Georgia Bill, as a backup musician to Ruth Mary Willis. And those may not...
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