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Red Hot Blues

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Album Review

This collection is a great starting point for the neophyte, starting with Elmore James' screaming slide on his signature electric version of Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom" (aka "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom") and roaring through highlights of James' distinct brand of Chicago blues. James, an electronics whiz, would tinker with his amplifier in order to produce the jagged, raw sounds he was noted for — and therein lay the roots of the rock guitar sound. On this collection, you can hear, in "The Sky Is Crying," what appealed to a young Jimi Hendrix. In "Dust My Broom" and "I Believe," you can hear the screeching guitar tone that must have crawled right up young Brian Jones' neck, dictating the direction for the Rolling Stones. The driving, ominous "Rollin' and Tumblin'" sounds about 40 years ahead of its time. (Listen closely, you can even hear the dark, tribalistic tones of future groups the Doors and the Velvet Underground in that one.) This is as strong a single-disc representation of James' canon as there is, and among these 12 tracks are essential performances and definitive versions.


Born: January 27, 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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