Alan Lomax compiled the most comprehensive blues archive in the history of the music. This sampling of the vast catalogue of blues artists was compiled while traveling the world recording musicians in their natural settings. It was released to coincide with Martin Scorsese's recent seven-part blues series on PBS.
Although the cuts are all valuable from an archival standpoint, it can get tedious listening to some of the scratchy, older material, but there are a couple that really get your attention.
R.L. Burnside's "Boogie Instrumental" sounds a bit like John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Children" except for the relentless tom-tom backing which sounds like a free for all in a juke joint, with shouts and hollers in the background as Burnside drones on.
This Joe Turner is not the guy who sang "Shake Rattle And Roll," but a song by cane flute player Ed Young. It's what you wish Othar Turner sounded like. Although it's shrill enough to pierce your eardrums, it's at least more or less in tune as a man can be with a homemade cane flute, and the banjo is a welcome change from Turner's headache drum accompaniment.
The award for the best statement in the throwing-out-a-sorry-woman category goes to Sam Chatmon's "The Last Time."
"You been wearing your mini skirt above your knees," Chatmon chastises the woman he accuses of doing the monkey, the dog and that slop in her revealing attire, before setting her free with the line, "now you can shake your jelly with any man you please."
But there's nothing that equals Howlin' Wolf's live version of Elmore James' "Dust My Broom," accompanied on guitar by Hubert Sumlin and Wolf Gang saxophonist Eddie Shaw. "You know when you got a lazy woman, and you have to come in and tell her, 'Baby, why don't you sweep up the house,' " Wolf whisper/growls in his gravel throated rasp, "and she jump up and 'say sweep it up yourself!' " Then he slams into a train wreck version of "Dust My Broom" with Eddie Shaw hootin' at will, out of tune and time and Hubert playing what sounds like a washtub strung with barbed wire while Wolf's blowing harp and screamin' like a scalded dawg. "Well, all right!" says Wolf at the end of it, and by Gawd it is.