Title - ‘The Blues Kingpins Series’ (Virgin)
Artist - Various
John Lee Hooker - There is nothing like drawing the shades close, putting on a set of headphones, and listening to a good John Lee Hooker disc. Whether it be something from the late 40's or his newest releases back in 2000 with John Lee Hooker and Friends. That is what was great about this man, he just got better as time went on. To start out, this ‘Blues King Pins’ CD is a great way to get into him if you are interested in the blues. You won’t be disappointed with any of the tracks. Classic tracks such as ’Boogie Chillen,’ ‘Sally Mae,’ ‘Hoogie Boogie,’ ‘Howin’ Wolf’ and both ”Crawlin’ King Snake’ and ’Queen Bee.’
Elmore James - This album is all the classic Elmore James cuts and includes the original version of ’Dust My Broom’ (although it’s mysteriously renamed or mis-spelt here as ’Dust My Blues’) with Sonny Boy Williamson on Harmonica. If you really want to hear one of the founding fathers of Rock & Roll & Boogie Music, you got to get this CD! Featuring such blues greats as ’Lost Woman Blues,’ ‘Rock My baby Right,’ ‘I Believe,’ and both ’Sinful Woman’ and ’Can’t Stop Lovin’ this album is real blues, raw guitar, and moving vocals all on the one 18-track disc!
Lightnin’ Hopkins - It's encouraging to hear contemporary artists like Keb Mo', Robert Cray, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd carry on the blues tradition into the new millennium. However, I'm always drawn back to the originals like Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf and of course Lightnin' Hopkins. On many of these songs from this new ‘Blues King Pins’ set, Hopkins performs solo accompanying himself on guitar. But, on a handful of tracks he is backed by a bass player and on ’Shotgun Blues,’ a second guitarist. Containing other blues hits such as ’Rocky Mountain Blues,’ ‘Woman, Woman,’ and both ’Fast Mail Rambler’ and ’Lighnin’s Boogie’, this is an excellent introduction (or addition) for fans of acoustic Texas folk/blues performed by one of the genre's greatest practitioners.
Ike Turner - Ike & Tina Turner had some solid chemistry together for sure, but in truth, Ike made Tina what she is today. This guy precluded Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Hendrix and does not get the credit he deserves because Tina humiliated him publicly without ever getting the chance to hear his side of the story! All that tabloid stuff aside though, the man's music speaks for itself with such blues tracks as ’You’re Driving Me Insane,’ ‘My Heart Belongs To You,’ ‘Looking For My Baby,’ ‘Loosely,’ ‘Night Howler’ and both ’Go To It’ and ’Why Don’t You Believe In Me’.
B.B. King - From the days when B.B. King's guitar sang and snarled and his voice pleaded and howled comes this wonderfully sounding, budget-priced 18-song blues sampler. With such classics as ’You Know I Love You,’ ‘You Upset Me, Baby,’ ‘Everyday I Have the Blues,’ ‘Sweet Little Angel,’ ‘Sweet Sixteen,’ and ’Rock Me Baby,’ don't think twice … just get it! What this ‘Blues King Pins’ set of blues hits shows most is King's guitar playing and vocal economy; no melismatic vocal trills or guitar hyperspace! Just full on, show-stopping blues done just right!
Fats Domino - If he was never a 1950s superstar on par with, say, Elvis Presley, nor has Fats Domino ever really gone out of style. At its best, his music is direct and unpretentious in a way that always sounds fresh. Domino's voice was appealing enough on its own that he didn't need any kind of back-up to get his message across. Fats proved you could be plump, black, and stay seated at the piano and be a rock star ... if enough talent was there. His songs are brief and simple but perfectly effective. Some of them jump, some are ballads, some have fine lyrics, most have super keyboarding and a few have a wailing sax that really grooves. I am old enough to remember when most of the bigger hits first came out, but even if you are not, you'll still enjoy this wonderfully chosen collection that includes: ’Hide Away Blues,’ ‘Boogie Woogie baby,’ ‘Tired Of Crying,’ ‘Rockin’ Chair’ and both ’How Long’ and ’Poor Poor Me.’
Reviewed by Jeremy Matkins