THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE BLUES 1920-1962.

THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE BLUES 1920-1962.

The blues influence on modern music can never be underestimated. Without the blues, there would be no jazz, R&B or rock music. Quite simply, the blues provided the foundations for the music of the twentieth century. That’s no exaggeration, and for the last fifty years, many musicians realise that.

Back in the sixties, everyone from Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Cream and The Animals through to The Rolling Stones, and The Yarbirds paid tribute to the influence the blues has had on modern music. They covered blues classics on their albums and often, asked blues legends to open for them on their tours. This resulted in a brief resurgence in popularity in blues music. Sadly, before long, the bubble burst.

After this, blues legends like Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Howlin’ Wolf were back too eking out a living wherever they could.

During this period, many blues musicians were struggling to make a living. They were finding it tough to adapt to the changes in musical tastes. While rock groups played huge venues, blues players were relegated to playing some of the many smaller, run-down clubs that could be found in every part of America. Many of these musicians raised on the blues, stubbornly refused to change their style of music. Eventually, it became a case of adapt or die.

If blues musicians didn’t adapt, the music risked dying. It would become a relic of music’s past. If this happened, the future looked bleak for a generation of blues musicians. So, they had to adapt to survive. 

During their sets, some blues musicians decided to adapt. They didn’t want to. This went against the grain. Despite this, they started throwing in some funky licks, soulful hollers and screams into their music. It became hugely popular with their audiences. The funky licks, hollers and screams added an element of showmanship to the music. Suddenly, their was another brief resurgence of interest in blues music. The music that gave birth to modern music in the late nineteenth century, came back from the brink. Forty-years later, and blues music is still going strong. However, the blues is nowhere as popular as it was between 1920 and 1962, the period Proper Records’ recently released box set The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 covers.

The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 is a four disc box set, featuring 100 tracks. For a newcomer to the blues, it’s the perfect introduction to what is, without doubt, one of the most important musical genres ever. Its the foundation which popular music was built in. Without the Kings and Queens of the blues on The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962, modern music would be very different.

Any students of modern music will tell you that. Blues styles, forms, melodies and the blues scale have influenced numerous musical genres. This includes jazz and rock ’n’ roll. Then there’s call and response, which is prominent in many musical styles, including soul music. Finally, there’s the use of the blue note, whose expressive, worried sound is at the heart of the blues. It would then go on to influence jazz, and then many major musical genres. These are just a few of the reasons that the blues is the foundation of modern music. That’s why we should never forget blues music, and its legacy. 

Part of the blues’ legacy is the music on The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962. This box set, features four discs, featuring twenty-five tracks. Each disc has a theme and features what can only be described as the great and good of blues music. For either the newcomer to blues, or a veteran of blues’ compilation The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 is essential listening. That’s the case from disc one of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962, which covers the twenties.

Disc One-Crazy Blues.

Disc one of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962, covers the period between 1920 to 1928. This was a golden age for blues music. That quickly becomes apparent. The track listing reads like a who’s who of blues music. Kings and Queens of the blues sit side-by-side.  

Fittingly, Mamie Smith one of the biggest names in blues history opens disc one. Next up is none other than the Empress Of The Blues, Bessie Smith. She’s one of the most important female blues singers ever. A true musical pioneer, no blues compilation would be complete without her. Then there’s contributions from Ma Rainey and Bertha Chippie Hill, two other Queens of the Blues. They’re joined by some of the Kings of twenties blues.

Quite simply, disc one is peppered with some of the biggest names in the blues. This includes Blind Lemon Jefferson, Luke Jordan, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Leroy Carr and Blind Willie McTell. That’s not forgetting The Mississippi Sheiks, one of the most popular and influential country blues groups of the twenties. However, one of my favourite tracks on disc one, is from a  true musical pioneer, Sylvester Weaver. He was a pioneer of both the country blues and slide guitar. On Guitar Rag, Sylvester Weaver showcases his skills as a slide guitarist. Guitar Rag, is without doubt, one of the hidden gems on disc one of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962, which features innovative and influential blues music. What about disc two?

Disc Two-Roll and Tumble.

Essentially, disc two of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962, Roll and Tumble, picks up where disc one left off. It covers the period between 1927 and 1936. This nine year period saw the golden age of the blues continue. 

As the twenties draw to a close, artists like William Harris, Bo Carter and Charley Patton, Robert Wilkins and Sleepy John Estes were establishing a reputation as some of the biggest names in blues music. They were pioneers and innovators, who shaped blues music. So were Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, who duet on When The Levee Breaks, a blues classic which would later be covered by Led Zeppelin on IV. However, the version by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, who were husband and wife, is the original version of this oft-covered track. Just like many blues songs, it would later provide inspiration for further generations of artists. 

This would be the case with The Mississippi Sheiks’ Sitting On Top Of The World, Skip James’ Devil Got My Woman and Roosevelt Sykes’ Honey Dripper, which feature on The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962. They would later, be covered by numerous artists. Like other artists who came to prominence in the thirties, they’d influence artists for several generations.

Meanwhile, as the twenties became the thirties, new names began to make a name for themselves. Blind Joe Reynolds, Son House and Peetie Wheatstraw. Later, in the thirties, Leadbelly, a convicted murderer made a name for himself as the bluesman who’d cheated the hangman and survived the brutal regime of Angola prison. Along with Roosevelt Skyes, Kokomo Arnold, Washboard Sam, Oscar Woods and Buddy Moss, making a living singing the blues offered an alternative way if living in the post depression years. Of these artists, some would go on to create innovative and influential music, music that still influences artists seventy years later.

Disc Three-Boogie Chillen.

Boogie Chillen, disc three, covers the widest period of the four discs in The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962. It starts in 1936 with Johnnie Temple’s Louise, Louise Blues and covers a sixteen year period. During this period, some of the great and good of blues music take a bow.

Choosing the highlights of disc three of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 is almost impossible. After all, there’s contributions from blues royalty. The late thirties alone, include everyone from Robert Johnson, T-Bone Walker, Bukka White, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Turner and Blind Boy Fuller. Each and every one of these artists played a huge role in shaping blues music. Whether its guitarist, pianists, harmonica players or blues shouters, they’re all here. And then there’s the forties to consider.

Still, the quality keeps on coming. There’s tracks from Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, Big Maceo, Charles Brown and Arthur Crudup. Then Big Joe Williams’ Please Don’t Go and T-Bone Walker’s Stormy Monday follow one after the other. It’s blues heaven. Can it get any better?

It does. There’s still contributions from a sextet of blues legends. The standard is set with John Lee Hooker’s classic Boogie Chillen. After that, Robert Nighthawk, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Jimmy Rogers make welcome appearances. Then Elmore James delivers his classic blues, Dust My Broom (I Believe My Time Ain’t Long). Closing disc three of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 is one of the finest blues harmonica players, Little Walter with Juke. Quite simply, disc three oozes quality and whets your appetite for disc four of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962.

Disc Four-Smokestack Lightnin’.

While disc four of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 oozed quality, so does disc four. It’s a tantalising prospect, featuring twenty-five blues released between 1952 and 1962. This includes contributions from some of the biggest names in the history of blues music.

What better way to start disc four, Smokestack Lightnin’, than with B.B. King’s 3 O’Clock Blues. Having whetted your appetite, Eddie Boyd, Junior Wells and Guitar Slim all make an appearance. Then Jimmy Witherspoon, King of the jump blues delivers When The Lights Go Out. After this, Lowell Fulson’s Reconsider Baby leads into the Muddy Waters’ classic Mannish Boy. Hopefully, disc four of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 isn’t peaking too soon.

No chance. There’s still contributions from Sonny Boy Williamson, Billy Boy Arnold, Howlin’ Wolf, Snooky Pryor and Otis Rush to come. That’s not forgetting Sunnyland Slim, Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Jimmy Reed. Then Etta James’unleashes a classic track, one that will forever be synonymous with her, I Just Want To Make Love To You. With just a quartet of blues to go, will disc four of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 end on a high.

No. Not when one blues Kings follow hard on the heels of another. Freddie King is first up with You’re Got To Love Her With A Feeling, followed by Albert King with Don’t Throw Your Love On Me So Strong. Then eschewing the obvious, the penultimate track on disc four of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 is Frank Frost’s Jelly Roll King. This leaves Johnny Copeland’s to close disc four of The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 on a high.

After four discs and 100 blues, the only way to describe The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 is essential listening. Blues music is the foundation that all modern music was built on. Musically, it’s of historical importance. The blues influence on modern music can never be underestimated. Without the blues, there would be no jazz, R&B or rock music. Quite simply, the blues provided the foundations for the music of the twentieth century. For that, we should be eternally grateful.

After all, without blues music, the modern musical landscape wouldn’t exist. Thankfully, it does, and blues music has left behind a rich legacy. That’s apparent when you listen to The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962. 

During this forty-two year period, the blues music came of age. In the twenties and thirties, it became one of the most popular genres. Then in the post war years, jazz overtook blues in popularity. By the time rock ’n’ roll was born, blues was no longer as popular. Its popularity had declined and would continue to do so, until the early sixties, when a new generation of artists paid tribute to the influence the blues has had on modern music. They covered blues classics on their albums and often, asked blues legends to open for them on their tours. This resulted in a brief resurgence in popularity in blues music. Sadly, before long, the party was over.

Since then, blues music has never regained its popularity. However, still, a small, discerning group of music lovers have still got the blues. They recognise its importance on modern music and appreciate its musical legacy. This includes the 100 tracks on The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962, which was recently released byProper Records.

The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962, a four disc box set, will appeal to newcomers to the blues and blues veterans alike. It features musical innovators and pioneers, whose influence is still being felt several generations later. Not many musical genres have such a long-lasting effect on music. Blues music does. It’s gone on to influence numerous musical genres. Indeed, blues music is the foundation modern music was built upon. Its importance can’t be underestimated and The Complete History Of The Blues 1920-1962 is a reminder of the role blues music had on modern music. 

THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE BLUES 1920-1962.

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