I generally feel like compilations are a good and relatively inexpensive way to sample a new genre of music. However, I am always a tad skeptical when it comes to compilation CDs with cool retouched period photos and diverse fonts on the covers that really don't do a thing for me. For me, it's all about the music. When my wife informed me she had seen a brand new blues compilation series I might be interested in, as usual I didn't get all goose pimply with excitement. Still, I'm always up for something different and decided to give them a fair listen.Jukin' wit De Blues is a brand new series of five CDs being released today from Catbone Unreleased featuring unreleased and restored Howlin' Wolf, James Cotton, Muddy Waters, and more that will be available for purchase as of October 11.
Belly Full of Blues, Mean Streets, and Saturday Night in Shankletown are the three of the series that I've had the opportunity to sample. When I started reading who the artists were on Belly Full of Blues my curiosity was piqued — the aforementioned Muddy Waters, Billy Boy Arnold, John Lee Hooker, Peter Frampton. I stopped and said, "WTF? Frampton? I thought this was a blues compilation."
Okay, I'll admit it. I own a large and diverse blues collection; but in all of my searching and collecting I didn't know Frampton was a bluesman. Who woulda thunk it? Well, then I looked at the other CDs and there was Frampton again, along with Little Richard, The Commodores, Jack Millman, George Cummings, and then a solo Tina Turner.
This really threw me off a little bit on the whole compilation. Admittedly, there is some really good blues on these CDs, but there are also quite a few songs that just do not belong (I am not saying that the songs themselves are bad, but that they belong in a different compilation). Also, while the actual blues music here is good, it's the same artists over and over on each CD. It's as if they got the rights to a few songs and artists and regurgitated them into a loosely connected mess.
There are much better blues compilations out there that offer a wider variety of artists and different sub-genres of the blues. I highly recommend Chess Records Anthologies, Alligator Records, and some of the old Fat Possum anthologies.