You can’t go wrong with a Smithsonian Folkways collection, and the newly released Classic Piano Blues is exceptionally good. The astonishing genius of these boogie-woogie/blues players is the main attraction, but there are some awesome male and female vocal performances as well, and hot interplay between piano and guitar on a couple of tracks. Performers include Memphis Slim, Speckled Red, Champion Jack Dupree, Lead Belly and many more. As always, Smithsonian Folkways’ producers and engineer provide meticulously restored recordings (20 tracks this time); extensive, well-researched liner notes; and lists of suggested further reading and listening. I maintain that this nonprofit label makes one of the strongest cases for the continuation of physical music formats.
Collection compiled by Jeff Place and Richard James Burgess. Engineer/sound supervisor: Pete Reiniger.