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The Very Best Of

Elmore James

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Album Review

Elmore James (a former radio repairman) spent a good deal of time rewiring his amplifiers, giving him a raw, distorted, and urgent sound on electric guitar that, coupled with his killer slide style, made him essentially the Godfather of modern electric guitar. This rather random but effective 22-song collection leads off with James' signature tune, a reworking of Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom." The roaring slide riff from "Dust" is repeated many times on this disc, since labels constantly demanded it, and James delivered it under a range of different titles, and amazingly, no one ever seems to get tired of it. Truthfully, James never recorded a lame track (even if dozens of them were variations on "Dust My Broom"), always pouring all of his energy into the performance, so it really doesn't matter which collection of his you pick up. This one features key tracks like "Rollin' and Tumblin'" and the majestic "The Sky Is Crying" in addition to "Dust My Broom," and from start to finish there's plenty of James' impassioned singing and that always stunning guitar tone.

Biography

Born: 27 January 1918 in Richland, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

No two ways about it, the most influential slide guitarist of the postwar period was Elmore James, hands down. Although his early demise from heart failure kept him from enjoying the fruits of the '60s blues revival as his contemporaries Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf did, James left a wide influential trail behind him. And that influence continues to the present time — in approach, attitude and tone — in just about every guitar player who puts a slide on his finger and wails the blues....
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