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Frettin' The Blues Link:

Frettin' The Blues

Frett'n The Blues—Best of the Guitar Greats
2000, Vanguard

The prototypical image of the bluesman is that of a man hunched over his guitar, be it electric or acoustic, and pouring out his soul. The Chicago sound brought with it a whole coterie of requirements like amps, cords, drummers and electric power. What is unchanged is the unadulterated feeling and connection to the heart. During the 1960s blues revival, Vanguard was a big player along with Chess and Atlantic. They are mining this stockpile of classic material and are releasing a series of compilations with themes. Frett'n The Blues is pure electric guitar driven blues, featuring mid-to-late '60s recordings by Buddy Guy, John Hammond, Muddy Waters and Otis Rush among others. These recordings capture the live intensity of sets at the Newport Folk Festival and the gritty reality of Chicago's thriving blues scene. Muddy raised the ante, showed the way and legions followed. His acoustic set at Newport captured a man at his peak. Guy is explosive. He transforms a childhood nursery rhyme into the blues powerhouse, "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and joins Jr. Wells for the poignant "Vietcong Blues" while Otis Spann is rich and evocative in Guy's version of "One Room Country Shack." Otis Rush's influential sound is found throughout his tracks which are heavy on the R&B but my favorite material is the stuttery, gutteral work of Johnny Hammond. These tracks are from his "So Many Roads" collection and feature backing by The Hawks (later known as the Band—Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson) as well as some Mike Bloomfield supplied piano and Charlie Musselwhite harp. It's a blues guitar manifesto coming from the gut.—Mark Gresser

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